‘The Waltons’ Star Richard Thomas Mentored Logan Shroyer on Becoming John Boy

by Clayton Edwards

Last week, The Waltons’ Homecoming premiered to mixed reactions from fans and critics. Several fans who loved the original series and the Christmas special that introduced it had some serious criticisms for the reboot. Most of those people believed that the new iteration of The Homecoming:  A Christmas Story was too modern. The fact that it contained foul language put some viewers off almost completely. However, one thing that almost everyone could agree on was that Richard Thomas was a great narrator and Logan Shroyer was excellent as John Boy.

Richard Thomas played John-Boy on The Waltons for five seasons before he left. Additionally, he played the character in the original Homecoming Christmas special and three of the subsequent made-for-TV movies. In short, Thomas was well-acquainted with John Boy.

More than that, The Waltons showrunners recast the role of John-Boy when Richard Thomas left the series. Fans weren’t happy about the sudden change. This showed Thomas what John Boy shouldn’t be. In short, he was the perfect person to mentor Logan Shroyer on becoming part of the Walton family.

Richard Thomas Shows Logan Shroyer the Ropes

According to Celebrating the Soaps, Shroyer said that Richard Thomas helped him prepare to become John Boy. He said that Thomas was there “as much or as little” as he needed him to be. He didn’t go into detail about all the help he received from the veteran Walton. However, he did reveal a couple of things that truly helped him take on the role.

First and foremost, Thomas told Logan Shroyer to make the part his own. Fans wanted to see him play John-Boy Walton. They didn’t want to see him playing Richard Thomas playing John-Boy. Additionally, that vote of confidence in his ability to nail the part probably helped.

Richard Thomas also reportedly told Logan Shroyer that it felt like they were keeping the role in the family. This is because Thomas and Shroyer already knew one another before working on the reboot together. Shroyer is good friends with Thomas’ grandson.

So, from what we have here, it doesn’t look like Richard Thomas coached Shroyer on the role. Instead, he bolstered the young actor’s confidence before he stepped into one of the most iconic roles in American TV history.

Thomas on His Previous Replacement

Robert Wightman replaced Richard Thomas when he left The Waltons. It was a huge role for him. However, fans never really warmed up to Wightman. In a 2019 interview, Thomas said he “felt for” his replacement.

“I felt for Bobby because he’s such a good actor and such a good guy. I thought, ‘Oh, man, is that a job I would have wanted to take?’ But, you know it took guts and he did it.”