Truly great television roles only come along every once in a while. And, for actor Richard Thomas one of those truly great roles was that of John-Boy on “The Waltons.”
In fact, the actor has said felt very, very lucky to be cast as the oldest of the Walton family children on the beloved family drama. He shared his feelings about the show during an interview with the Archive of American Television in 2016.
“I felt very privileged to play John-Boy,” Thomas said.
One factor about playing John-Boy on “The Waltons” that excited Thomas was helping develop the character. And more importantly, it was a character that hadn’t been portrayed that often on the small screen.
“Because I felt – and this is attributed to Earl, not to me; I just had the opportunity to play the part – but to have a hand in creating a kind of leading actor role for a male on an American television series that ran counter to almost every other model, a feeling, sensitive, sometimes too sensitive, sort of delicate natured person,” Thoma said. “(John-Boy) was neither, you know, a wiz-kid nor a doctor, a lawyer, a cop – all those role models, male role models. Nor was he the oldest son who was like the football star.”
The “Earl” Thomas referenced was Earl Hamner Jr. Hamner was the creator of “The Waltons.” He also served as the show’s narrator. He also wrote the book “Spencer’s Mountain” on which the family drama was based.
Richard Thomas Referred to John-Boy Character on ‘The Waltons’ As ‘Subversive’ During 2016 Interview
As far as Richard Thomas is concerned, John-Boy Walton was a unique television character.
“There was a whole other, I think, sort of subversive quality to John-Boy that I was very aware of,” “The Waltons” star said. “I mean, it’s very much who I was. I’m not ascribing his good qualities to me – I’m just saying, I was that kid. I was not an athlete. But, I was raised in an artistic home. This is a kid who was different in his native soil.”
Richard Thomas also viewed John-Boy Walton as someone who had a very unique perspective on this world.
“John-Boy was a young man … at the age of 16, I think when the show starts, growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the Depression – having a completely rural upbringing. But, who has the soul of an artist,” Thomas said in 2016. “And, who is – because of his desire to be a writer – is at once at home in the bosom of his family and the culture in which he’s growing up and fully a part of it, but also apart from it. He’s not only in it, he’s observing it. So, that immediately sets him apart as an observer … He is in the stories as a character, but he is also seeing the stories and telling the stories.”
You can watch Richard Thomas share his thoughts about “The Waltons” and his role on the show below.