Is it a curse for an actor to be infinitely known for their most popular role? It probably depends on the role, but for Richard Thomas, “The Waltons” gave him a name he isn’t ashamed to be associated with forever. Thomas played John-Boy Walton on the CBS drama from 1972 to 1977.
Richard Thomas has a career that spans beyond just ‘The Waltons.” He was also in “A Doll’s House,” “Promised Land,” “Bonanza,” “As the World Turns,” and “The Good Wife.”
Richard Thomas on Playing John-Boy on ‘The Waltons’
He also starred in the miniseries version of “It” and was in the spy thriller “The Americans.” Although some actors fear that a signature role makes it harder for fans to see them in other projects, Thomas said he’s lucky to have that kind of immense impact.
“Oh no. It’s just a blessing. It’s wonderful. There are challenges with every way of life, but if you’re an actor, and you’re lucky enough to create a role that has that kind of an impact, then it’s a good day’s work,” Thomas said to Smashing Interviews Magazine.
Despite a career beyond “The Waltons,” it still played a major role in his popularity and impact on the industry. He received an Emmy Award and two Golden Globe Awards for his John-Boy role.
“I think shows are always a product of their time in which they’re produced. The culture in any particular moment make it what it is. Shows are either forgotten or they become kind of a nostalgic thing whether they were good or not,” Thomas also said.
According to Distractify, Thomas left the show to pursue other interests. However, he is permanently attached to the nostalgic legacy of the show. He didn’t have a falling out with the show or crew, in fact, he returned for guest appearances as well as movies adapted from the TV show.
The Cast’s Off-Screen Bond
Richard Thomas wasn’t the only actor to play John-Boy, yet he is often the first one that comes to mind. Thomas was replaced in Seasons 8 and 9 by Robert Wightman.
While he may have been replaced on the show, Richard Thomas considers his time on the show irreplaceable. He has said that the bond that was formed between co-stars has never faded.
He said in an interview with Antenna TV in 2019 that his cast “was a wonderful family.”
“We were all very compatible, we all had a very good time and a lot of love … When you’re doing a series, especially a long-form show … sometimes you spend more time with your on-screen family than your at-home family.
“You really become intimate and you really get to know each other and it becomes like an extended family. Over the years we’ve stayed in touch, and there’s a very strong bond that has never gone away.”