I’ve always known John Lithgow was a man who has worn many hats, but I had no idea how diverse his work was until I started doing a little research.
Born of parents with theater backgrounds, one could say the stage has been in his blood from the very beginning. While attending Harvard, he decided upon a career in acting for himself. Fun little factoid: as a freshman, Lithgow lived across the hall from roommates Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones. Wow. How interesting do you think it was to be the Resident Assistant (R.A.) in that hall? And here I thought The Social Network was an interesting look at Harvard life. Pssh. Give me these three over Zuckerberg any day. Someone make a movie about Lithgow, Jones and Gore in college. Stat!
Lithgow made his Broadway debut on stage in David Storey’s The Changing Room, for which he won a Tony award (how’s that for a career start?). In the decades since, he has crossed over into television, film and radio with equal acclaim. in addition, John has created numerous works for children: writing poetry and short stories, while recording albums too.
Most audiences, however, are likely familiar with him due to his film and TV work. Early in his career, he was in Brian De Palma’s Obsession, a kinda-remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. He started to gain notice in films after appearing in Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz. Then he really took off, gaining Best Supporting Actor nods in back-to-back years for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment (1982 and ’83, respectively). From that point, Lithgow really seemed to be everywhere.
While contemplating his filmography, one thing occurred to me. I had never noticed before, but I really enjoy John Lithgow in everything I’ve ever seen him in. Even if the movie or TV show itself is less than par. He is one of the few actors that I delight in watching, whether I love his character or hate him. Take a gander a the collage I assembled below and tell me John isn’t one of the most endearing actors you can think of. He’s just so damn good in any role that he embodies.
From Harry and the Hendersons, to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, to 2010, to Twilight Zone: The Movie, Lithgow impresses each film with his own mannerisms and that signature voice. I’ll even forgive his scenery-chomping turns in the likes of Cliffhanger, Ricochet, Raising Cain and… wait for it… Santa Claus: The Movie. Yeah, I went there.
And let’s not neglect his work on television. He charmed us all for several seasons of “3rd Rock from The Sun,” and he won an Emmy this year for his role in last season’s “Dexter” as a sociopath (who also really sticks it to our favorite serial killer with the last shot of the final episode).
By the way, did you know he played Yoda? Yes, the jedi master from Star Wars. Not in the movies, mind you, but in the radio drama portrayals. No lie.
And now the prolific actor will be gracing the Paramount’s stage as well with his one-man show, Stories by Heart. In it, John “traces his roots as an actor and as a storyteller,” utilizing two stories from his youth.
I don’t know about you, but it sounds fascinating, and with the ever-appealing Lithgow as its center, well… Count me in. There’s still time to join me.
The show is Tuesday, October 12th at 8 pm.