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THE WALTONS Actor Richard Thomas Reflects on New Role as Atticus Finch 

Screenshot from The CW Network YouTube – “The Waltons Thanksgiving Trailer | The CW”

THE WALTONS Actor Richard Thomas Reflects on New Role as Atticus Finch 

By Movieguide® Contributor

Richard Thomas, best known for his role as John-Boy on THE WALTONS, is returning to the ’30s with his role as Atticus Finch in the “To Kill a Mockingbird” theater production.

“I play a character that most people know, but what’s great about ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is that there are so many iterations of the book,” Thomas said. “You may have read the novel and seen the movie, but this play is different.”

Acclaimed writer Aaron Sorkin (WEST WING, A FEW GOOD MEN) created the screenplay to speak to today’s troubles while staying true to the story’s southern roots.

“There is no doubt that Aaron has taken the material and run in his own direction. Aaron reflects on the way we think about social justice issues,” Thomas said. “It’s a great time to do a play like this, due to the contemporary social justice movement.”

“Aaron Sorkin has done such a great thing with the play. He’s taken Atticus off his pedestal, which is a gift for actors and the audience,” Thomas said. “He wanted to make Atticus the protagonist, as Scout Finch was in the book and film.”

He continued, “In the book and the movie, Atticus lives in a bubble. Aaron gives him a crisis about community, and Aaron gives him a sense of humor.”

“Atticus has that wonderful wry southern humor. I love the southern cadence and the southern feel Sorkin gives Atticus, who is not a Chicago lawyer. Aaron gives us the south,” Thomas added.

While Thomas did not grow up in the South, he had fond memories to help him get into character, as he spent his childhood summers with cousins from Kentucky.

“I ran around barefoot, rode horses and fed hogs out in the country, and it was the greatest. It was a wonderful experience for a New York showbiz kid. I developed such an appreciation for the south. There really is no place quite like it,” he reminisced.

Thomas also had his experience on THE WALTONS to pull from, which shares a deep connection with “To Kill a Mockingbird” – something not lost on him.

“The connection is that both are from the same time period, the ‘30s in the American South,” Thomas said. “And it’s evident that people love THE WALTONS and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’”

Thomas’ time as Atticus Finch wraps up the play’s third touring season on Sunday, Dec. 10, at the First Interstate Center for Performing Arts in Spokane, Washington.

According to Broadway World, “Since its tour launch in March 2022, the First National Tour of To Kill a Mockingbird has played more than 500 performances in 44 cities, seen by more than 1 million theatergoers (1,107,617 as of July 2, 2023).”

Movieguide® previously reported on Thomas:

The Walton Family will return to CW for the upcoming THE WALTONS: HOMECOMING on Nov. 28.

Richard Thomas, who played the original John Boy Walton in the 1972 show, will narrate the TV movie as Logan Shroyer continues THE WALTONS’ legacy as 2021’s John Boy.

The series, which ran for nine seasons, follows the Walton family during the Great Depression era. They exercise faith, despite financial trouble and the terrors of World War II.

“When we did the series originally, this country, we were very split because of all the issues going on.” Thomas said in a recent press conference. “The line went right down the middle of the dinner table, a lot of the time. It was the beginning of a sort of balkanization where the demographic was split within the household. There were more televisions. So one of the great things about the show was that it brought people together. Young people could see a story about older people, and older people could remember their childhood. And the faith element was just — you can’t really tell the story about people in that part of America in 1933 without a faith element. That was a huge part of people’s lives, and it still is around the country.

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