date published: November 6, 2006

5 questions with...

Richard Thomas
by Josh B. Wardrop

Best-known to audiences as eldest son John-Boy Walton on the beloved family drama “The Waltons,” actor Richard Thomas has been a star of stage, TV and film for nearly 50 years. He arrives in Boston on November 7 for a two-week engagement at The Colonial Theatre in a revival of the classic legal drama Twelve Angry Men.

Q: Why do, in 2006, a revival of Twelve Angry Men?
The judicial system is a vital and unchanged process, and the core of this story is about proving how one person can make a difference through participation in their government. It’s as relevant today as it was in 1954, and that’s exciting to me.

Q: Have you ever served on a jury yourself?
I never have! I’ve been called, but always had work conflicts. After this show, though, my interest is really piqued.…It’s such an important service to be able to perform.

Q: You’re co-starring with George Wendt (“Cheers”). Any fears the audience will yell out “Norm!” when he walks onstage?
(Laughs) It hasn’t happened yet, but maybe now that we’re in Boston! George is absolutely great in the show, by the way.

Q: Television is very different from when “The Waltons” was on. What do you think of the current TV landscape?
There’s interesting stuff, but networks seem to be mostly stuck on crime procedurals [like “C.S.I.”]. They’re well-executed, but it seems character-driven shows are much rarer these days. I worry about the easy cynicism—the preference to make shows that are dark for the sake of being hip.

Q: How often does someone call you “John-Boy”?
Oh, all the time. And it’s great! I really think if you’re lucky enough to have inhabited a character so vividly that you’re still identified with it 30 years later, that’s quite a blessing for a performer.