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Episode 203: Nerdist Podcast
John Lithgow
Nerdist PodcastNerdist Podcast

Nerdist Podcast: John Lithgow

The immensely talented John Lithgow sits down with Chris in NYC to talk about how he got into acting, his appreciation and love for the art of comedy and his role in The Columnist, now on Broadway!

This episode is brought to you by Click on the radio microphone and enter Nerdist to start a no risk trial and get a bonus offer worth $110!

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  1. M McClelland says:

    I think the best line in this whole great interview is the anecdote about Sir Thomas Beecham; the two people in the audience to play for. It’s a beautiful sentiment, and something that more than a few performers I’ve known should take to heart.

  2. Anthony says:

    Which book by Steve Martin were you talking about? Is it Born Standing Up?

    I would love to see a nice 2hour Steve Martin Podcast.

  3. Mandy says:

    Mr. Lithgow is amazing and this was such a great interview. He was absolutely correct with Chris’s great interview skills. It stayed very natural like two old friends in the industry talking. It is incredible how Chris is able to keep people at ease as he encourages them into an in depth conversation. I was so proud to be a nerdist fan, as I feel we were well represented to Mr. Lithgow. Thank you so much Chris.

  4. Susan says:

    I must, must know… the quote Mr. Lithgow gave about the conductor and the jaded orchestra playing for just 2 people in the audience – it gave me chills, and I would like to share it with my musician friends… does anyone have the original verbatim quote?

  5. EGMaloney says:

    Chris, you have lived one of my life long dreams: to be in a room with Mr. Lithgow. By the by, give yourself a treat and look up the podcast for Selected Shorts. Mr. Lithgow has a crack at reading The Monkey’s Paw and it is transcendent.

  6. brandy says:

    john lithgow’s laugh makes me giggle. i adore him. the fact that he’s KNOWN to be nice and down to earth and kind to others just makes him that much more appealing. he’s a good soul. <3

  7. Amelia says:

    Thank you all, this is wonderful! John Lithgow, from Buckaroo Banzai to Steve Martin… to Mort Sahl, because when I was hanging around San Francisco you could go see Mort Sahl’s great show at a hotel speakeasy that has since closed. Being a tourist, I asked Mort where the Boardinghouse was (“here at the Booooardinghoooouse…”) but he couldn’t say. He did recommend what turned out to be a good book about comedy history called “Seriously Funny.”
    Great job being great, Mr. Lithgow! Buckaroo Banzai was my favorite movie for perhaps twenty years? My sister used it to evaluate potential boyfriends.

  8. QuasarSniffer says:

    *late reply is late*

    I just wanted to say that, not only was the entire interview all sorts of magnificent, it ended in the most AMAZEBALLS way imaginable. Well done to everyone, including Mr. Lithgow, who comported himself with warmth and humor and lovable-ness.

  9. Cormack says:

    I was waiting the entire podcast for a mention of Yoda. I remember when i found that radio broadcast in Disney World in 1996 on cassette. I was so excited i spent pretty much all the money a 16 year old had back in those days (much less than now) and i bought it. Now i need to get a better soundcard on my computer and hook my cassette deck up and put that broadcast into a digital format.

  10. Trimi says:

    I finally got around to listening to this. AMAZING. It was like Inside athe Actors studio but actually entertaining. Well done.

  11. Jim O'Neill says:

    That just made my day. I’ve loved John Lithgow since The World According to Garp, an all time favorite film. The stories that came out of that conversation were great fun to listen to but when the conversation ended with a well deserved slap on the back for Chris Hardwick, well, two of the good guys that’s all.

  12. Daniel says:

    Your intro made me nervous as I was afraid it was going to be a bubbly fawnfest like most interviews with ‘big name’ actors. But the interview kept getting better…and better…and better. That ending was priceless, I could see your nerdgasm joy coming out of my iPod.

    For my two cents I’d say Lithgow’s best performance was his dramatic rendition of Newt Gingrich’s campaign staffer on the Colbert Report. It perfectly captured the tone and temperament of Newt’s campaign.

  13. Alex says:

    I couldn’t listen to this without hearing Trinity and being creeped out. John Lithgow will always scare me no matter how charming he is. That’s his trick.

  14. Bert_rand says:

    John Lithgow made a Dario Fo reference, probably the first and last one ever on nerdist. DARIO FO!!!! Godamit (a trademarked Big C comment I know, sorry) Dario Fo is quite the genius shit disturber. And nobel prize winner! Go Fo!

  15. Lila says:

    This was absolutely DELIGHTFUL!

  16. Roy says:

    Great interview Chris.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed you will get Steve Martin on eventually.

  17. sylvatron says:

    Chris, you really should try to go see One Man Two Guvnors the next time you’re in New York. It’s uproariously funny. (Though Mr. Lithgow gave away some major spoilers!)

  18. Sarah H says:

    Fantastic podcast! I have loved John Lithgow practically my entire life, this interview cemented that feeling of admiration. Thank you.

  19. Paul says:

    This was a great episode. I love it that you asked him to do “enjoy your burrito” in the Yoda voice and he said yes.

  20. Renee says:

    This podcast was what hugs sound like. I enjoyed it so much.

  21. JetpackBlues says:

    I’m fortunate enough to have all 3 of the Radio Drama box sets on CD. And I remember listening to them on the radio when I was a wee lad. We’d sit down to dinner on Sundays and listen to it just like families during the mid-century.

    Even better than John Lithgow as Yoda? David Alan Grier as an X-Wing pilot.

    Grier got his start on the National Public Radio radio drama adaptation of Star Wars in 1980. He was the voice of a nameless X-Wing fighter pilot during the Battle of Yavin.

  22. Ross says:

    Amazing–just a lovely conversation. My only regret is that you didn’t ask him to “Enjoy Your Burrito” as Dr Emilio Lizardo; there are any number of acceptable Yodas out there, but there’s no one who could really duplicate his scenery-chewing line readings as Lord John Whorfin.
    Next time, perhaps.

  23. Alisaj29 says:

    I normally listen to the podcasts while doing work, well at work. I listen but not pay attention,if that makes sense, but I have to say I LOVED this interview, I heard every word that was said, It was a awesome podcast, and I love that John Lithgow loved be interviewed by Chris. This was wicked awesome.

  24. Rogue says:

    I think forever and always I will only hear Arthur Mitchell- despite him being pleasant and kind just… ack!

    He so deserves that Tony; and many other awards for his awe-inspiring acting skills.

  25. calfaro says:

    Excellent episode! Ive always been a casual fan of Lithgow’s work so I was a little weary fearing he might come off as unlikeable or at least pretentious, but he seemed genuinely great! Its always nice to see a guy of his caliber and career have a great sense of humor, about himself and in general.

  26. gabrielle says:

    New favorite! Incredible.

  27. Pedak says:

    I would like to thank Doctor Quemmento for making the post of the year!

  28. Dan says:

    holy shit titties what a great interview. Lithgow has always been one of my favorite actors (upset no mention of Harry and the Hendersons was brought up) but I’m glad he;s going to be in more comedy’s since I love 3rd rock from the sun, but also, I hope he’s a crazy psycho killer again because Ricochet is also another movie I like a lot. It was hilarious when he’s explaining how acting works and calls himself pretentious, just shows what an amazing humble guy he is. As Lithgow said chris, another great job. 😀

  29. Patty Marvel says:

    “Enjoy your burrito you must!” I was squeeing right along with Chris’ glee there!

    FYI to NE Ohio nerds, the Cuyahoga County Public Library system DOES have the Star Wars radio plays featuring John Lithgow available on Playaway format. (Found here: ) And yes, I’ve already ordered mine. That’s the beauty of listening to podcasts on the ole desktop – just hit pause and start searching the online catalog for anything mentioned.

    I also SQUEED when JL and CH were showing Steve Martin some love as I too enjoyed “Born Standing Up” AND “Wild and Crazy Guy” was the first album I *ever* bought. Imagine a 9/10-year-old girl enraptured by the “Philosophy/Religion/College/Language” bit. Much love to SM!

    And Chris, I always enjoy your interview technique – you strike just the right balance of humor and respect and you sound like you adjust based on each interviewee, like Jon Stewart does at his best – but in THIS interview, you also sounded as if you were in a bit of awe as well. Can’t say I blame you – I liked JL before but I *REALLY* like him now, having heard him tell stories and share his philosophy for an hour (yes, his memoir is also on order from the library). JL summed it up nicely when he stated some interviewers are just so engaging you WANT to chat with them while others can be turn-offs. You’re definitely in the former category. Please keep up the good work and keep the podcasts coming.

  30. Collins says:

    I was amazed that it wasn’t actually Paul F. Tompkins

  31. JetpackBlues says:

    Nah, truly Chris deserves an hour with Steve Martin and Albert Brooks. He’s had a Twitter boner ever since SM & AB Tweeted back at him last year.

  32. Smile on, sir. You’ve earned it. I can’t think of a person who is less deserving of being a victim of internet douchebaggery…. and asshattedness. 😉

  33. Wonderfully Disguised says:

    I want to thank to Chris Hardwick and John Lithgow for this exceptionally excellent podcast!

    I understand this podcast is free under the implied contract that my 2nd wish is “Hardwick gets an hour (each) with Steve Martin and Tom Lerer.” So I saw how fortuitous and endearing it was that John Lithgow was also such a big fan of Steve Martin.

    I don’t want to spoil the particulars of “Enjoy Your Burrito” so I will only say that I could already see this podcast was going to be one of the best Nerdist podcasts ever but this ending made it really magical!

  34. Kari2171 says:

    Best “Enjoy your Burrito” delivery yet.

  35. Eric Odorczyk says:

    First a mention of Michael Jordan on All star celebrity bowling. Now a reference to the great Jon Madden? Is Chris finally coming around to sports? Probably not but I can always hope for Matt’s sake.

  36. Josh says:

    And by “threads” I mean my entire wardrobe.

    Okay… enough. (c:

    Silly comments are fun.

  37. Josh says:

    Because when I listen to Nerdist, I like to open my MacBook, scroll the page down, and drape my threads over it, baby!

  38. Josh says:

    I don’t understand why ANYONE things comment threads like this are for comments. They’re for THREADS baby! Threads!

  39. P-Funk says:

    Just a quick note – the James Corden that The Lithgow mentions played Craig, the father of Stormaggedon, in two episodes of Doctor Who – “The Lodger” and “Closing Time.”

  40. Brandon Johnston says:

    2nd favorite thing about this podcast is Quemmento’s comment!

    Chris, which George Martin book are you and John talking about? Is it Born Standing Up?

  41. Jake says:

    Wow, @quemmento really threw me for a turn there. At first I thought he was a hater, but he turned out to be an amazing writer that hates people who complain about things they get for free on here. That was an amazingly written thing, I applaud you sir.

  42. jgarfink says:

    He likes you! He really likes you!

    Seriously, though – what a great human being.

  43. Luke says:

    Can we now all agree that John Lithgow is the nicest guy ever?

  44. Michelle says:

    thank you so much Chris for another great podcast!

  45. pureonix says:

    I’m sorry Master Hard ChrisWick.(Yes i used your porn name that the Pinky gave you!!!)
    I just enjoy this podcast that much. Hell i took a weekend to travel to Chicago with my mom just to see you guys love. So you word is law at the moment. I will redact what i previously said.

  46. Chris Hardwick says:

    @Caleb: you are sweet to rush to my defense, but @Quemmento’s post is actually a beautifully written love letter to the podcast and a middle finger to people who complain at me for silly stuff. As such, I can’t thank him enough for it. It genuinely made me smile!

  47. Caleb says:

    Dear Dr. Quem,
    You are an ass hat. That is all.

  48. I’d like to take a moment to offer a few brief complaints. (I use the word “offer” here because my negative opinions are extremely valuable and my expressing them here on your comment board is actually an act of charity to you. That said, I expect that you’ll regard them with the proper reverence.)

    Complaint #1: Advertising
    The ads that you place on your podcast are most distressing. Not the ads themselves, mind you, but the fact that you have the audacity to advertise on the podcast at all. It’s almost as if you have the unmitigated temerity to desire some sort of monetary compensation for the work you put into generating the podcast that I took the time to download and listen to. I suppose I could just fast forward through the intro and thereby skip the offending ad if I’m really that bothered by it, but that really isn’t an option for me because…well because I’m just too damn lazy. Besides, I paid $0.00 of my hard earned money to download your podcast and for that I expect to be catered to.

    Complaint #2: Treatment of Podcast Guests
    The treatment of your guests is an area of major concern for me. I understand that the people you have on your podcast are usually friends, or people in the industry that you admire, or both, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be nice to them. What you should really do is be more like me and lash out at people in random ways for arbitrary reasons that really have nothing to do with anything. There’s something very wrong with the world and it stems from a lack of unnecessary negativity and conflict between people for unimportant reasons. People like you propagate positivity, enthusiasm, and tolerance, and that really bums me out. If I’m not having a good day(/life), then nobody else should be allowed to have a good day(/life) either.

    Complaint #3: Overuse of Certain Words
    As I mentioned in Complaint #1, Paragraph 1, I paid a whopping $0.00 for this podcast and I think, therefore, that I should have a say about what words I’m forced (that’s right I said forced) to listen to. Your use of the word “amazing” to describe something that you find, well, amazing is truly and deeply offensive to me. You should use other words to describe the things that you find amazing like “remarkable” or “stupendous” or “fantabulous”. That way I can criticize your use of those words too. Besides, it’s not like I can turn off your podcast and listen to something else if I don’t like it. I took 3 minutes and 23 seconds of my valuable time to download it off of iTunes and if I don’t listen to all 1 hour and 14 minutes of it then those 3 minutes and 23 seconds will be wasted forever. I may have spent 30 minutes carefully wording this complaint, and 3 hours playing Farmville today, but I’m not a man who takes it lightly when someone wastes my time.

    Well, those are all of the complaints I can think of for now. But rest assured, Hardwick, that as long as you’re out there generating quality creative content, I’ll be here, lurking in the shadows, just waiting for something to share my worthless, entitled, idiotic opinion about.

    Hatefully Yours,
    Not a Hater or a Troll

    P.S. I’m not a hater or a troll. My total irrational rejection of everything having to do with you as a human being may be based on insignificant details related to half truths and misconceptions, and I may decide to post my ignorant views on the internet, and all of that may fit the very definitions of the words “hater” and “troll”, but all of that is completely beside the point. I repeat, I’m not a hater or a troll.

  49. JetpackBlues says:

    *John Lithgow’s BB buzzes*

    He picks it up and looks at it, remarking “I thought I had turned this off.”

    BBM John Bigboote: We’ve had our chance! Your Overthruster’s for shit! We’re lost!

    *quickly taps in*
    One more word out of you, Bigbooty…!

    BBM John Bigboote: BIG-BOO-TAY! TAY! TAY!

    *shuts off phone*