John Lithgow

  • Aired:  10/04/11
  •  | Views: 16,339

John Lithgow talks about growing up in a theater family and getting hooked on acting in spite of himself. (5:29)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS A NEW

MEMOIR CALLED "DRAMA: AN ACTOR'S

EDUCATION."

I AM GOING TO ACT LIKE I'VE READ

HIS BOOK.

PLEASE WELCOME JOHN LITHGOW!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

JOHN!

GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

SIT DOWN.

SO GREAT TO SEE YOU.

>> NICE TO BE HERE AGAIN.

>> Stephen: NOW, SIR, YOU HAVE

DONE IT ALL.

YOU'RE AN EMMY AND TONY AWARD

WINNING ACTOR.

YOU'RE STAR OF STAGE, SCREEN,

T.V..

YOU'VE AUTHORED EIGHT BOOKS FOR

CHILDREN.

YOU'VE WON GRAMMYS FOR YOUR

ALBUMS AND NOW YOU HAVE AUTHORED

A NEW MEMOIR WHICH IS HUMBLY

TITLED "DRAMA: AN ACTOR'S

EDUCATION."

I DO NOT KNOW THAT ACTORS NEEDED

EDUCATION.

(LAUGHTER)

SALINGER SAID HE THOUGHT ACTORS

EDUCATION COULD GET IN THE WAY.

DON'T YOU NEED TO BE A LITTLE

EMPTY UP HERE SO YOU CAN FILL IT

WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES?

>> BUT YOU HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO

BE AN ACTOR.

>> Stephen: REALLY?

>> I THINK SO.

>> Stephen: CAN YOU JUST GO OUT

THERE AND WING IT?

>> SOME CAN BUT THEY DON'T LAST

LONG.

LOOK AT ME, I'VE LASTED UNTIL 65

YEARS OLD.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen:'S'S THE KEY TO AN

ACTOR'S EDUCATION BECAUSE AS FAR

AS I CAN TELL ACTORS ARE REALLY

GOOD LIARS.

(LAUGHTER)

>> WELL, THE ESSENCE OF ACTING

IS PRETENDING AND BASICALLY

DECEIVING PEOPLE INTO SORT OF

ACCEPTING AN INVITATION OF

REALITY, YES.

BUT I THINK IT JUST COMES WITH

EXPERIENCE.

I MEAN, THE ESSENCE OF IT IS

IT'S EXPERIENCE BOTH ON STAGE

AND OFF STAGE, I THINK.

THAT'S WHAT MY BOOK IS ABOUT.

IT'S ABOUT ALL THE TIME I'VE

SPENT ON STAGE AS A VERY, VERY

YOUNG BOY.

I MEAN, I STARTED ACTING BEFORE

I EVEN REMEMBER.

>> Stephen: YOUR FATHER RAN A

SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL.

>> VERY.

I GREW UP IN A THEATER FAMILY.

HE RAN SHAKESPEARE FESTIVALS ALL

OVER OHIO THE WHOLE TIME I WAS

GROWING UP.

SO THAT'S WHERE MY EDUCATION

KICKED IN IN SPITE OF MYSELF.

BY OSMOSIS I WAS BECOMING AN

ACTOR.

>> Stephen: WHERE IN OHIO?

STRATFORD UPON CLEVELAND?

(LAUGHTER)

WHERE IN OHIO DID YOU LIVE.

>> THE GREAT LAKES THEATER

FESTIVAL IN CLEVELAND IS GOING

STRONG 50 YEARS AFTER HE STARTED

IT.

>> Stephen: WAS YOUR FATHER

DISAPPOINTED THAT YOU WENT INTO

THE FAMILY BUSINESS?

BECAUSE YOU GOT A HARVARD

EDUCATION.

WHY DIDN'T YOU GO INTO, LIKE,

HEDGE FUNDS?

SOMETHING THAT SERVES HUMANITY.

(LAUGHTER)

DOING GOD'S WORK.

>> (LAUGHS)

WELL, IT'S FUNNY YOU SHOULD

MENTION THAT.

CLEARLY YOU HAVEN'T READ THE

BOOK.

(LAUGHTER)

>> Stephen: NO.

I WAS WAITING FOR YOU TO COME

HERE AND ACT IT OUT.

(LAUGHTER)

>> WELL, LET ME TELL YOU.

>> Stephen: PLEASE DO.

>> ALL MY LIFE I ACTED IN MY

FATHERS COMPANIES, HE DIRECTED

ME, WE ACTED TOGETHER.

I WENT OFF TO HARVARD AND TOLD

HIM IN MY SENIOR YEAR THAT I WAS

GOING TO GO OFF TO ENGLAND AND

STUDY ATLANTA IN DRAMA SCHOOL

AND HIS FACE FELL LIKE I TOLD

HIM I'D CONTRACTED A TERMINAL

DISEASE.

NOT WITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT

IT WAS OBVIOUS TO EVERYBODY THAT

I WAS GOING TO END UP AN ACTOR.

IT IS TRUE I HADN'T INTENDED TO

BE OR WANTED TO BE AN ACTOR WHEN

I WAS GROWING UP.

>> Stephen: WHAT SUCKED YOU?

>> APPLAUSE.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: IF THAT'S THE

CRITERIA THAN I'M AN ACTOR.

>> OH, YOU'RE AN ACTOR, STEPHEN.

(LAUGHTER)

>> Stephen: ALL MEN ARE IN SOME

WAYS, AREN'T THEY?

>> ALL BUSINESS IS SHOW

BUSINESS.

>> Stephen: YOU SAID THEY LOOKED

LIKE YOU'D CONTRACTED A DISEASE.

IS THERE ANY CURE FOR ACTING?

>> IS THERE ANY CURE FOR ACTING?

>> IS THERE ANYTHING THAT COULD

MAKE YOU WANT TO STOP ACTING?

>> I SUPPOSE YOU COULD FIND

SOMETHING IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU

PREFER TO ACTING.

OR YOU COULD GO LONG ENOUGH

WITHOUT EVER BEING GIVEN A JOB

THAT YOU FINALLY QUIT ACTING.

>> IT BREAKS YOUR HEART.

>> IT'S A HEART BREAKING

PROFESSION.

THERE'S A LOT OF HEART BREAK IN

THE BOOK.

A LOT OF LAUGHS, A LOT OF TEARS,

A LOT OF DRAMA.

(LAUGHTER)

>> Stephen: WHEN YOUR MEMOIR

"DRAW MARX AN ACTOR'S EDUCATION"

IS INEVITABLY MADE INTO A MOVIE.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO PLAY YOU?

>> RYAN GOSLING.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: TO CAPTURE YOUR SIX

PACK ABS?

>> HE LOOKS JUST LIKE ME AS A

YOUNG MAN.

>> Stephen: JOHN LITHGOW, THANK

YOU SO MUCH FOR GRACING US WITH

YOUR DRAMATIC PRESENCE.

>> STEPHEN, THANK YOU FOR

GRACING ME WITH YOURS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

>> Stephen: JOHN LITHGOW "DRAMA:

AN ACTOR'S EDUCATION."

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