DVR Alert: John Lithgow Talks New Broadway Show on CBS SUNDAY MORNING, 1/7
John Lithgow opens up to CBS Sunday Morning about the death of his father and how it inspired his one-man show Stories By Heart in a candid interview with Lee Cowan to be broadcast Sunday, Jan. 7 (9:00 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network. Lithgow tells Cowan it was the time he spent telling stories to his then-ill father that became the groundwork for the show"Those of us who reach 60, 70 years old, if you're lucky, you still have your parents with you, and it's a big, big part of your life, taking care of them, and easing them into death," Lithgow says. "Easing them toward death." For Lithgow, that happened in 2002, when his father, a normally buoyant, jolly man, fell into silence and depression after major surgery. While sitting next to his father's bed, Lithgow began to read stories from a tattered book that he calls the "Lithgow Bible." He read to his father the same stories his father read to him when Lithgow was a child. "It did wonders for an old man near death," Lithgow says. Those same stories make up his one-man play, which has Lithgow playing no fewer than 11 characters - including a parrot. Lithgow says it's very "daunting and presumptuous" to think one person can hold an audience for two hours, but he felt he had something to say with the work. "It was the most important month of my life," Lithgow tells Cowan of that time with his ailing dad. "When my father was suffering like that, he had this feeling, particularly by the end of the month, when it was so sweet, it was time to go. But when it was time to leave, it was like leaving your children at summer camp. I mean, he was so worried that he wouldn't be able to sustain his high spirits. You know, it was very, very tender." Lithgow also talks with Cowan about his career, including his role as Winston Churchill in the Netflix series "The Crown," and why he relishes playing villains. CBS SUNDAY MORNING is broadcast Sundays (9:00-10:30 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network. Rand Morrison is the executive producer.
John Lithgow: Stories By Heart began preview performances on December 21, 2017 and opens officially on Thursday, January 11, 2018. This is a limited engagement through Sunday, March 4, 2018 at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway (227 West 42nd Street).
Image courtesy of CBS
John Lithgow's roots are in the theater. In 1973, he won a Tony Award three weeks after his Broadway debut in David Storey's The Changing Room. Since then he has appeared on Broadway twenty more times, earning five more Tony nominations, another Tony, four Drama Desk Awards, and induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. His Broadway performances have included major roles in My Fat Friend, Trelawney of the 'Wells,' Comedians, Anna Christie, Bedroom Farce, Beyond Therapy, M. Butterfly, The Front Page, Retreat from Moscow, All My Sons, The Columnist, and the musicals Sweet Smell of Success (his second Tony) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. In 2007, Lithgow was one of the very few American actors ever invited to join The Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Malvolio in Twelfth Night at Stratford-upon-Avon.
In 2008, he devised his own one-man show Stories by Heart for The Lincoln Center Theater Company, and has been touring it around the country ever since. He played the title role in Arthur Wing Pinero's The Magistrate at London's National Theatre. Lithgow returned to The New York stage in 2014, first as King Lear for The Public's Shakespeare in the Park, and then on Broadway in Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. In the early 1980's, Lithgow began to make a major mark in film. At that time, he was nominated for Oscars in back-to-back years, for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment. In the years before and after, he has appeared in over fifty films. Notable among them have been All That Jazz, Blow Out, Twilight Zone: the Movie, Footloose, 2010, Buckaroo Banzai, Harry and the Hendersons, Memphis Belle, Raising Cain, Ricochet, Cliffhanger, Orange County, Shrek, Kinsey, Dreamgirls, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Campaign, This is 40, Interstellar, Love is Strange, The Accountant, Miss Sloane, and in 2017 the dramatic comedy Beatriz at Dinner with Salma Hayek.
Later this year, audiences will see Lithgow again on the big screen in Pitch Perfect 3 and Daddy's Home 2. Lithgow has been nominated for twelve Emmy Awards for his work on television. He has won five: one for an episode of "Amazing Stories," and three for his work on the hit NBC comedy series "3rd Rock from the Sun," as the loopy character of the alien High Commander, Dick Solomon. During the show's six-year run, Lithgow also won a Golden Globe, two SAG Awards, The American Comedy Award, and, when it finally went off the air, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Additionally, his diabolical turn as the Trinity Killer in a twelve-episode arc on Showtime's "Dexter" won him his second Golden Globe and his fifth Emmy. Most recently, Lithgow starred as Winston Churchill in Netflix's original series, "The Crown," for which he has received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in this year's upcoming Emmy Awards. This past March, Lithgow starred in the new NBC comedy series, "Trial & Error."
Since 1998 he has written nine New York Times best-selling children's picture books, most recently Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo. He has performed concerts for children with major American orchestras and has released three kids' albums, Singin' in the Bathtub, Farkle & Friends, and the Grammy-nominated The Sunny Side of the Street. Lithgow has been honored with the New Victory Theater Arts Award for his work "bringing kids to the arts and the arts to the kids." In 2011, HarperCollins published his memoir, Drama: An Actor's Education, presenting his life and career up to the age of 35.
John Lithgow was born in Rochester, New York, but grew up in Ohio. He graduated from high school in Princeton, New Jersey, attended Harvard College, and studied at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art on a Fulbright Grant. Lithgow has been honored with the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, induction into The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Harvard. On that last occasion, he became the first actor to ever deliver Harvard's Commencement Address. Lithgow has three grown children, two grandchildren, and lives in Los Angeles and New York. He has been married for over thirty five years to Mary Yeager, a Professor of Economic and Business History at UCLA.