‘The Waltons’: John-Boy Actor Richard Thomas Once Revealed He Felt Real ‘Chemistry’ On-Set With Fellow Stars

by Katie Maloney

When you spend as much time together as the cast of The Waltons did, it’s difficult not to feel some chemistry.

There are some great actors out there who have acted in romantic films with co-stars they hated. Now, that requires a level of acting skill that most people could never achieve. Luckily, The Waltons cast never really had to worry about that. From day one, the cast got along really well. In fact, decades after the show ended, they can still gather and pick up where they left off as if no time has passed. And that was exactly what they did earlier this year when they reunited for a virtual interview. During the interview, Richard Thomas, who played John-Boy, talked about the natural chemistry that existed on set.

“Well, you spent more hours a day with your television family than you did with your home family. And you really are together. And when you’re playing together, you’re doing intimate scenes. You’re playing with each other’s feelings and supporting each other,” said Thomas.

Thomas added that spending so much time together and acting in scenes that required so much emotional vulnerability quickly bonded The Waltons cast in a unique way.

“It’s a very intense bonding experience. And when the chemistry is right like it was with us, it was so much fun and a lot of real love that is still present,” said Thomas.

Thomas also said that, even forty years after the last episode aired, he can still feel the love he has for his castmates.

“It hasn’t diminished for me at all,” said Thomas. “I think there was an authentic family feeling on the set that really was captured.”

The Waltons virtual reunion.

Michael Learned Said The Chemistry Between Her And Her TV Husband On The Waltons Was Real

When watching episodes of The Waltons, it’s impossible to deny the chemistry and love between John Sr. and Olivia Walton. And, it turns out, that the onscreen love was so believable because actors Michael Learned and Ralph Waite really did love each other in real life.

During an interview in 2019, Learned admitted for the first time that she and Ralph really did have feelings for each other offscreen. However, the two knew that it was better for both their careers and personal lives if they didn’t act on their feelings. So, they never tried their romance beyond The Waltons.

“We had a deep love for each other that we would have ruined if we had taken that extra step, and we didn’t,” said Learned. “And we never did. We thought about it, but we didn’t. And I think that’s why we became a spiritual husband and wife if you will, and I miss him terribly. His wife is a very good friend. But what Ralph and I had was something that came across on screen.”

The Waltons Michael Learned as Olivia walton and Ralph Waite as John Walton on “The Empty Nest.” (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Michael Learned Said She And Ralph Mutually Decided Never To Date

Learned added that both she and Ralph were complicated people who struggled with many different things throughout their lives. Because they were just friends and co-stars on The Waltons, they were able to love each other through their faults without ever being bothered by them.

“He had so many colors to his life and his character. And he was deeply honest with himself and God-conscious I think, and complicated. And because we remained the kind of friends we remained, none of that bothered me,” said learned. “But if we’d been married or something, I might have had a problem with his complicatedness. And he might have with mine. We’re both very flawed human beings, but I loved him dearly, what can I say? And he loved me.”