Entertainment John Lithgow on Playing a “Flamboyant” (Yet Reclusive) Writer in James Patterson Audio Drama ‘The Guilty’

18:25  22 october  2021
18:25  22 october  2021 Source:   hollywoodreporter.com

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Fans of John Lithgow may not get to see his face in his latest role. However, hearing his signature voice in James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski’s Audible Original drama The Guilty contributes to a highly immersive audio experience.

The actor voices the reclusive, wildly successful writer Osmund Box, performing alongside Bryce Dallas Howard, Aldis Hodge, Corey Stoll, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Julie White, Stephanie DeRosa, Danny Burstein and Peter Gallagher.

“There were so many elements there that appealed to me. James Patterson for one thing — the fact that Audible had invited him to experiment with audio drama, something that I’ve been doing my whole career, off and on,” Lithgow tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The extraordinary theatrical setting of this piece, and this larger-than-life character.”

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The setting he’s referring to is Broadway. It’s opening night of Box’s new play, but it soon becomes a murder scene, and New York City homicide detectives are tasked with figuring out what is real, what is part of the act, and who, exactly, they should be investigating.

Lithgow, who has performed in numerous Broadway shows, notes that the setting was a world he felt very familiar with. “And I’m plenty familiar with larger-than-life theatrical characters, probably none quite as flamboyant as Osmund Box, but plenty that have approached that.”

Lithgow also praises the “ingenuity” of the story: “It’s meta: a play within a play, but the play is highly unusual — this mad genius, Osmund Box, invites everybody to an opening night of a play, but the play hasn’t been written yet. And he introduces the actors, and the actors don’t even realize they’ve been cast yet. It’s a completely implausible premise, but it is done in such a way as to make it plausible. When you can do that, then lure people into a whodunit murder story, you really have some great storytelling.”

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The audio drama was recorded at Bell Sound Studios in Hollywood, where Lithgow was essentially by himself. “It was just me and the sound engineer because of all the COVID protocols,” he explains. Though the writers (Patterson and Swierczynski) and director, Stephen Brackett, were on Zoom so they could interact with Lithgow and vice-versa.

Gallery: Rock On! ‘School of Rock’ Cast: Where Are They Now? (US Weekly)

Stick it to the man! In 2003, writer Mike White collaborated with Jack Black and director Richard Linklater on the musical comedy School of Rock. The flick was so successful that it even spawned a Nickelodeon series and a Tony-nominated musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. In the original movie, struggling singer Dewey Finn (Black) goes undercover as a substitute teacher for a local prep school in order to earn some quick cash to pay his rent. He pretends to be his best friend and former bandmate, Ned Schneebly (White), and discovers that his students all have gifted musical talents. He teams up with the children to form a band, intent on entering a Battle of the Bands competition to bag its cash prize. White originally penned the script after living next to the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle actor in Los Angeles, wanting to show off his comedic chops. “He was starting to get a lot of heat as an actor and he would occasionally give me scripts that had been submitted to him to star in,” White recalled to Viacom in October 2018. “They were invariably these flat comedies or he was, like, the John Belushi guy who gets drunk and falls through a sliding glass door or something. I’m reading these scripts and I was like, ‘I could do better than this.’” The White Lotus creator continued, “Obviously, music is a big passion of [Black’s]; he has his band Tenacious D. I had the idea of him leading a band of little kids — somehow it just seemed like a funny visual. Then I got the idea that it would be fun to have him be more of a W.C. Fields [character] a little bit, like a guy who isn’t really somebody you’d want around kids, but that’s part of the fun of it.” With the script written, the creative team was certain that Linklater could pull off the project and transform it into a hit.     “It was a huge, different thing for me to come aboard,” the filmmaker explained in his Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny documentary. “I was a color on his palette, someone had cast me as the right person to perhaps realize this thing that he thought had potential.” The Boyhood director was certain about casting children who were musicians instead of actors. “I began casting in New York in 2002. We had an unusually long casting process of seven months. Everyone involved knew that finding the right young people, even if not professional actors, who also had musical gifts would require time, patience, and an intensive search,” casting director Ilene Starger recalled to Viacom in 2018. “It didn’t matter if they had had prior acting experience; in fact, we wanted the film to have a freshness, re: unknown talent where possible.” The film went on to cast young stars Miranda Cosgrove, Maryam Hassan, Robert Tsai, Joey Gaydos Jr., Rivkah Reyes and the late Kevin Clark as the precocious and musical fourth-grade students. “It was so fun to see those kids as real performers,” White told Viacom at the time. “I think that obviously made the movie feel more authentic as far as the musical performances, but I think it also made it more authentic as far as the acting performances, too.” Hassan, for her part, didn’t realize the gravity of the project until they were filming. “Going into it, I had no idea,” the songwriter recalled to Vulture in January 2021. “It didn’t hit me until a month or so into filming the extent of what I was doing. I knew what the movie was about, but not enough to initially realize, ‘Oh, we’re the kids who will be part of Jack’s band.’” However, Hassan was convinced that the Holiday star was more of a fan of the kids than they were of him. “Honestly, I think Jack was more blown away by us,” she added. “We were all so young and possessed such a huge mix of musical and vocal talents. He would often end a scene being like, ‘Wow, remind me how old you guys are! You can do all this stuff at your age?! How?!’ He was fascinated by our talents and always seemed to enjoy watching us work. He was a fan in that sense.” Scroll below to find out what the School of Rock cast has been up to since the movie’s debut:

There are multiple key areas described in the story: the dressing room in present day, the performance onstage, and the atmosphere in the audience — which Lithgow describes as “packed” and “restless” — and even the orchestra pit, where there is a pianist. The audio engineers have, as he explains, made it very clear where the listener is at any given moment.

“You hear my voice resonating as if I’m in a great big hall, and then you hear the voices of the police inspectors, dry and business-like, in the dressing room, trying to figure out what’s going on,” says Lithgow. “Every element takes you through, including the music and the pianist in the pit.”

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Lithgow — whose voice is extremely familiar to those who grew up watching him onstage (Fiddler on the Roof), on television (3rd Rock From the Sun) or film (Interstellar) — told THR that people sometimes overhear him and recognize his speech before they have even seen him. “That amazes me.”

The actor, who has referenced in other interviews that vocal stamina and a hoarse voice can be an issue with audio performance, shared with THR that he experienced a medical incident earlier this year after noticing in January — some months after he recorded The Guilty — that he was losing his voice. In March, an otolaryngologist diagnosed Lithgow with a growth on his thyroid that was putting pressure on his vocal cords. He subsequently had a “massive” operation, where a nodule “the size of a fist” came out.

“My voice sprang back to life,” he says. “Listening to The Guilty now, I do hear the voice — curiously, it gives a kind of richness.” (Lithgow also clarifies that this incident was not related to his work on The Guilty).

Audio acting remains, at least in terms of logistics, “the easiest,” according to Lithgow. “You get in your car, drive to the studio, stand in front of a microphone and just act. You don’t have to learn your lines, you don’t have to rehearse, you just have to entertain.”

Having entertained audiences for five decades, Lithgow has ticked many things off his bucket list such as playing King Lear and working with Martin Scorsese. And yet, there is always more to come. “I continue to be the source of people’s bright ideas that never even occurred to me,” he says, giving the example that he never would have cast himself as Winston Churchill (in The Crown) or Roger Ailes (in Bombshell).

“You grow old as an actor, and if you can still do it, there’s a lot less competition, for one thing, and the roles get very, very interesting and nuanced. Old men and old women have their own drama.”

The Guilty will be available exclusively on Audible on Oct. 28.

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Gary Patterson took over the TCU Horned Frogs in 2000, leading the program for over two decades until his resignation days ago. He was known as one of the best head coaches in the sport, winning multiple national coach of the year awards in 2009 and 2014, and getting TCU to the doorstep of the […] The post TCU Athletic Director Has Telling Admission On Next Hire appeared first on The Spun.

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