‘The Waltons’ Star Richard Thomas Overcame His First ‘Oh No’ Reaction to Reboot Movie

by John Jamison

When Richard Thomas accepted the role of John Boy in The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, he couldn’t have known that he’d be working on a remake 50 years later. However, this time around, he’s taking a backseat to Logan Shroyer, who will play Thomas’ iconic character in the upcoming The Waltons’ Homecoming.

In fact, one of his first thoughts, when he heard there would be a remake with an entirely new cast, was one of slight disappointment. It wasn’t jealousy or sadness. Thomas was simply wrestling with some feelings of nostalgia.

“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,'” Thomas told People ahead of The Waltons’ Homecoming Sunday premiere.

And Richard Thomas is no stranger to the feeling. It’s not the first time another actor has come along to play the John Boy character that Richard Thomas made famous. When he left the show in 1978, The Waltons brought in Robert Wightman to play John Boy.

Thomas was never upset by the decision, just surprised. Either way, these days, after decades to sit on his character’s impact, it’s easier for Thomas to “pass the torch.”

“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,” he continued.

Richard Thomas Believes ‘The Waltons’ Homecoming’ Is Perfectly Timed

Earl Hamner’s writing made for a highly compelling family drama that resonated with audiences worldwide throughout the 1970s. Now, The CW feels the time is right for The WaltonsHomecoming to do the same thing.

The original The Waltons cast members have talked about how the 1970s were an incredibly divisive time. The Depression Era struggles of the Walton family mirrored that division and those challenges. Now, the world faces challenges that rival even those dark times in history. And Richard Thomas believes the message is more relevant now than ever.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to have a show about people who are struggling and yet try to find a way through, where love is actually the most important factor,” he continued in the TV Insider interview.

And it’s not as if love is particularly complicated. The Waltons always found a way to put an emphasis on love winning out, whether it was familial or otherwise. In the case of The Waltons’ Homecoming, that message is achieved by telling the story of John Walton Sr. (Ben Lawson) trying to make it home in time for Christmas.

In his father’s absence, John Boy must rise to the challenge of making sure his family is alright. He ventures out into a winter storm to guide his dad home, growing in the process.

“At the heart of the story is a young man trying to learn how to be a man,” Thomas finished.