‘The Waltons’: Richard Thomas Explained Why John-Boy ‘Felt Like a Spy’ in His Own Family

by Joe Rutland
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Actor Richard Thomas said his iconic TV character, John-Boy Walton on “The Waltons,” could be kind of like a spy in his own home.

Well, his TV home upon Walton’s Mountain. Thomas, who also has played numerous other TV roles and is an established Broadway star, talked about John-Boy in an extensive interview.

“I think Jon-Boy is that (an artist), not necessarily the show but that character,” Thomas said while speaking with the Archive of American Television. “And that split makes it very interesting to play because not only is he at home in his environment. He is also, he needs to escape it.”

‘The Waltons’ Star Says John-Boy Character Deals With Conflict

Thomas said the John-Boy character on “The Waltons” also finds that type of environment frustrating and limiting.

“The conflict (is) between how much you love the people you are living with and how much you need to be separate from them,” Thomas said. “To individuate not just as a person but because you have a completely different way of seeing the world.

“You feel like a spy in your own home,” he said. “This creates a wonderful inner conflict that’s a character very rich to play.”

For Thomas, who was born in Manhattan and has worked in show business most of his life, John-Boy Walton did provide him with a prestigious TV award. He won an Emmy Award in 1973 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Thomas also has been nominated for a Cable ACE Award, Golden Globe Awards, and a Tony Award in his career.

Richard Thomas Directed Some Episodes Of CBS Drama

Besides playing a lead role on “The Waltons,” Richard Thomas was able to take a few turns behind the camera as a director.

Thomas directed five episodes of the CBS family drama.

According to IMDb, Thomas appeared as John-Boy Walton from 1972 until 1978. He directed episodes in 1975-77. In 1975, he directed an episode titled “The Song.” In 1976, he directed “The Fox,” “The Collision,” and “The Great Motorcycle Race.”

Thomas’ final turn behind the camera for “The Waltons” was in 1977 for “John’s Crossroad.”

“I directed some, which was scary for me because I had never done that before,” Thomas said in an interview with Dove.com. “But (it) was also exciting and satisfying.”

Other television work has been a part of Thomas’s life yet people around the world remain connected to him through “The Waltons.”

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