John Lithgow’s roots are in the theater. In 1973, he won a Tony Award three weeks after his Broadway debut, in David Storey’s The Changing Room. Since then he has appeared on Broadway twenty more times, earning five more Tony nominations, another Tony, four Drama Desk Awards, and induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. His Broadway performances have included major roles in My Fat Friend, Trelawney of the ‘Wells,’ Comedians, Anna Christie, Bedroom Farce, and the musicals Sweet Smell of Success (his second Tony), and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
In 2007 Lithgow was one of the very few American actors ever invited to join The Royal Shakespeare Company, playing ‘Malvolio’ in Twelfth Night at Stratford-upon-Avon. In 2008 he devised his own one-man show Stories by Heart for The Lincoln Center Theater Company, and has been touring it around the country ever since. Last year he played the title role in The Magistrate at London’s National Theatre. Lithgow returned to the New York stage this year first as ‘King Lear’ for The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park and on Broadway in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance.
In the early 1980’s Lithgow began to make a major mark in films. He was nominated for Academy Awards in back-to-back years, for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment. Notable credits include, All That Jazz, Twilight Zone: the Movie, Footloose, Harry and the Hendersons, Shrek, Dreamgirls, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Campaign and This is 40. In 2014 Lithgow was seen on the big screen in Interstellar and Love is Strange, for which he and the film earned rave reviews and a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Male Lead.
For his work on television, Lithgow has been nominated for thirteen Emmy Awards. He has won seven of them: two for Amazing Stories, one for Dexter, one for The Crown, and three for what is perhaps his most celebrated creation. This was the loopy character of the alien High Commander, ‘Dick Solomon,’ on the hit NBC comedy series 3rd Rock from the Sun. In that show’s six-year run, Lithgow also won the Golden Globe and two SAG Awards. More recently, his diabolical turn as the ‘Trinity Killer’ in a twelve-episode arc on Showtime’s Dexter won him his second Golden Globe and his fifth Emmy.
In 2011 Lithgow’s memoir, Drama: An Actor’s Education, presenting his life and career up to the age of 35. The book vividly portrays the worlds of New York, London, and American regional theater in the 1970’s, and relives his collaborations with renowned performers and directors of that era.
John Lithgow attended Harvard College, and studied at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art on a Fulbright Grant. He has been honored with the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, induction into The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Harvard. He was the first actor to deliver Harvard’s Commencement Address.