50 years removed from his first role as John Boy, Richard Thomas is still going strong. The Waltons fans can catch him as the narrator in tonight’s remake of the movie that started it all. And despite some initial hesitance, Thomas is incredibly proud of the iconic TV family’s staying power.
Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, The Waltons’ Homecoming debuts on The CW. And yes, it is indeed a remake of the original The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, which was the first look America had at the Walton family. But don’t expect to see Richard Thomas in the iconic role that made him a household name.
The John Boy honor falls to 22-year old Logan Shroyer. And for Thomas, The Waltons’ Homecoming going with an all-new cast was jarring at first. But it didn’t take long for him to come around on it and feel a certain sense of pride at something he helped make famous returning in 2021.
“You have a sense of ownership, so when they call you and say, ‘Well, we’re doing a new one. It’s all new people,’ your first reaction is, ‘Oh, no. Time to pass it on. Too bad.’ And then you realize, be proud and happy that it’s considered a classic. I think it’s wonderful that somebody else is going to have a chance to make that part their own,” Thomas told People recently.
With decades of distance, it’s likely easier for Thomas to have that sense of pride in the John Boy character. In the 1970s, though, Robert Wightman was brought in as a replacement after Thomas chose to leave The Waltons. And Thomas’ personal feelings aside, fans of the show didn’t exactly embrace the change. John Boy was sort of the show’s main character, after all.
We Weren’t Kidding When We Said ‘The Waltons’ Star Is Still Going Strong
Richard Thomas has been busy from the first time he acted in the late 1950s. He had long runs on multiple shows as a child actor before The Homecoming: A Christmas Story came along. These days, not much has changed.
Now 70, Richard Thomas can’t imagine his life having gone any other direction.
“One of the beautiful things about acting is if you’re lucky enough to be able to keep working your whole life, there are roles that will sustain you from childhood right up until ancient supporting character man. Especially in the theater, there are great roles in all those categories,” said Thomas.
And The Waltons star has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
“So as I keep chugging along, there’s always just one more thing to do, and I love it so much. When your work is also your pleasure, it’s hard to think about retiring,” Thomas finished.