“That’s an older crowd who were teenyboppers. They talk about cheering at the big moment, when I say I’m going to allow the kids to dance .... It’s interesting that they remember me as the villain of that movie when ultimately I’m redeemed. But they only remember the fact that I wouldn’t let the kids dance.” Cliffhanger (1993) portrayal of British prime minister Winston Churchill on the Netflix royal drama. FANS ALSO REFERENCE As a fiendish terrorist-thief, Lithgow matched both wits and blows with Sylvester Stallone in the highaltitude, high-octane thriller. ↓ The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension “It’s a slightly more sophisticated crowd. They love English acting and history. [Churchill] is a fascinating, idiosyncratic, and occasionally comic character. If there’s any comic relief in that first season, it was Churchill. They love the fact that I brought my comedy chops.” (1984) “[Men] will quote lines I’ve long since forgotten. They will do an imitation of me, so that’s kind of weird. ‘Do you know what real love is? ‘Kill a few people, they call you a murderer. Kill a million, and you’re a conqueror.’ Curiously, a lot of Englishmen think it’s great, and I think my English accent is in it. But it is a thrilling film.” “Hippie brainiacs” ask Lithgow to say, “Laugh while you can, monkey boy!” Sacrifice.’ Ricochet (1991) Fans revel in the spiky demise of his “hideous” racist killer. Terms of Endearment (1983) The World According to Garp (1982) Lithgow earned a second Oscar nomination for his work in this heart-wrenching family traumedy (filmed concurrently with playing a kindly banker having an affair with a woman (Debra Winger) who dies of cancer. “Terms In an era when transgender representation was scarce and dehumanizing, Lithgow earned an Oscar nod as a trans ex–pro athlete and protective, compassionate force in the quirky film adaptation of John Irving’s novel. His Broadway work horrible “I get that in New York, but not much anywhere else.” Footloose), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) Lithgow starred in the anthology film as a paranoid passenger who is terrorized by a creature on the plane’s wing that no one else sees. Frasier and Monty Python He’s mistaken for Kelsey Grammer and John Cleese. remains about the best movie I was ever in. Everybody loves the film so much. They talk about how much they cried. Jeff Daniels was so great—and, of course, Jack [Nicholson] and Shirley [MacLaine] and Debra. You just cared so much for these people.” “It was the first time I made an impact in a big way in a movie. It disarmed people because the character was so dear, so appealing. I got remarkable letters, and transgender people would come up to me and thank me.” “I get jokes from flight attendants on airplanes. All the time! Things about seating me next to the window. Or: ‘Be careful about what you see on the wing.’ I wish I had a nickel for every one.” Bombshell (2019) In a departure from playing fictional villains, Lithgow slipped on the predatory skin of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. 6 % E R O HT 3 R D R % 6 NE O T Z GH IL “Everybody was disgusted by the performance. It was very disturbing. They single out the searingly uncomfortable scene with Margot Robbie. She was amazing in it.” IW T R E 6 HF L C I F Harry and the Hendersons (1987) T EN AR E N E M Lithgow went kid-friendly in the big-screen comedy about a suburban family who take in a BIgfoot. % 7 1 3 % D D E X T E R F O S M R “I get a lot of 50-year-old people saying they loved when they were kids. The moment that I hit Harry in the face—to make him go back in the woods, to save him— and tell him, ‘We don’t want you here anymore,’ grown people tear up at the memory of that. We didn’t take it nearly as seriously, but boy, the impact that had on children; they just loved the film.” Harry E T ES O O T O O % 7 L F S O N S Footloose (1984) In the surprise-hit musical drama starring Kevin Bacon, Lithgow played a rigid reverend who ultimately saw the light. S M BO B G N A G TO P 9 EW ● COM JULY 2020 61
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