‘The Waltons’ Star Richard Thomas Talks Taking Over Gregory Peck’s Iconic Role

by Chase Thomas

The Waltons star Richard Thomas has been an acting legend for decades now. Thomas starred in The Waltons for many years as the main character, but Thomas has gone on to star in a variety of roles since then. What you may not know is that Thomas has not stayed behind the camera. No, Thomas does theatrical and stage work, too.

For instance, the 70-year-old actor Thomas is in Pittsburgh at the moment where he is playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Next spring, though, Thomas will play the role of Atticus Finch, in the fantastic To Kill A Mockingbird. To very different roles, to be sure, but The Waltons star Richard Thomas talked about taking over Gregory Peck’s iconic role.

He said, “You can’t help but be different, that’s what we do as actors. The only thing you can really bring is your presence, and your presence is going to be different than somebody else’s. So, it’s going to be different no matter what you try and do.” That’s the right attitude to have, isn’t it, Outsiders? He knows he is following in a legendary set of footprints in Peck, but he knows he will be different. There is no point in trying to be Gregory Peck, instead, Richard Thomas is going to be himself playing Atticus Finch.

He continued, “I think it’s a good part for me.” It very well maybe. It is one of the most iconic roles in Hollywood. And, unlike Scrooge, one of the best characters in of the last 100 years in both film and books.

Richard Thomas on ‘The Waltons’

Thomas returned for The Waltons reunion show, which was a big deal. How did it come about, though? Thomas told KSite TV, “Yeah, pretty much. Obviously, they wouldn’t call me until things were coming altogether, but yeah, it was early in the process. And originally, it was just like “we’d like you to do the voiceovers and narrations” and I just jumped, because I loved that. That was such an important part of the original series and Earl Hamner did such an astonishing job in his inimitable voice.”

It was the perfect fit for what Thomas was looking for at this stage in his career.

He concluded, “But there was a part of me, being John-Boy, there was a part of me, in my early 20s, who was like “I want to do those voiceovers! I mean, Earl’s perfect, but why didn’t they ask me to do the voiceovers?” And now, 50 years later, I’m doing them! So it was a great outcome. And then they asked me to do a little introduction, sort of to pass the baton and keep the continuity going, and that was just the icing on top. That was wonderful.”

You can watch The Waltons: Homecoming on the CW.