John Lithgow developed a few dos and don’ts in the industry, but just like my New Year’s resolutions, he had broken them all. Well, except one: to never do episodic TV. Rumor had it that this rule led to him turning down the opportunity to play Frasier Crane on the classic NBC sitcom “Cheers” even though the character was written specifically with him in mind. He addressed the rumor to The Guardian in 2020:
“I never wanted to put that out into the public for many years — really sympathizing with Kelsey Grammar. But it was at a time when I was ticking off movies. I’d gotten two Oscar nominations in a row. A TV comedy series was so beneath my dignity that I barely even remember being told that it had been offered to me.”
He communicated his position even stronger in a 2021 interview with Vulture: “I was never going to do a sitcom,” he said. The role of Frasier would go to Kelsey Grammer, who played the character for 20 years, including 11 seasons as the titular protagonist on the popular “Cheers” spin-off, “Frasier.” The show premiered in ’93, and in just three short years later, Lithgow starred as the lead in another sitcom on the same network. What made him break the rule after all those years?