‘3rd Rock from the Sun’: John Lithgow Shares the Story Behind Those Squeaky Leather Pants

John Lithgow’s career in the entertainment industry spans decades. He portrayed a killer in Dexter and a strict father in Footloose but his role as an alien living on Earth is still one of his most popular nearly 20 years later. Keep reading to learn about his turn on the TV show, 3rd Rock from the Sun

John Lithgow plays Dick Solomon in ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’

3rd Rock from the Sun premiered on NBC in 1996. In his first comical role since a short stint on Saturday Night Live, Lithgow says he “exploded everybody’s expectations” playing High Commander Dick Solomon, an alien adjusting to life on Earth in the body of a human.

John Lithgow as Dick Solomon in '3rd Rock from the Sun'
John Lithgow as Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun | Alan Levenson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

RELATED: 10 TV Shows That Don’t Get Enough Credit

The leader of the group, Dick’s joined by Sally Solomon (Kristen Johnston), Harry Solomon (French Stuart), and Tommy Solomon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). 

The show followed them as they went about their lives on Earth getting themselves into all sorts of awkward (and funny) situations. Audiences said goodbye to the aliens from another planet when 3rd Rock from the Sun went off the air in 2001 after six seasons and 139 episodes. 

He says people still remember the leather pants he wore in ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’

In a June 2020 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lithgow recounted some of his most recognizable roles. Among them The Crown, Bombshell, The World According to Garp, and, of course, 3rd Rock from the Sun.

Native to Rochester, New York, the actor shared how people who watched the sitcom in the ‘90s still vividly “remember crazy moments” from the show, but especially one in particular where he wore a pair of tight leather pants. 

3rd Rock people remember crazy moments — the time I wore black leather pants too tight for me,” Lithgow said. 

Cast of '3rd Rock from the Sun'
Cast of 3rd Rock from the Sun| Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

RELATED: 10 of the Greatest Cult TV Show Comedies Ever Made

He continued, sharing some details about how the scene came to life.

“They remember that the leather pants squeaked, and interesting enough that they should remember that, because we had someone standing next to it, twisting a piece of wet leather with every move I made,” he said. “So I guess we were doing something right if after all those years people remember the squeak of that leather…”

John Lithgow receives critical acclaim for ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’

Lithgow and 3rd Rock from the Sun definitely did something right because the comedy garnered praise during awards show season.

Lithgow earned a Golden Globe in 1997 for the role. And not once but three times he won an Emmy Award in the Lead Actor – Comedy Series category for playing Dick Solomon. He also earned two Screen Actors Guild Awards for the role. 

He’s back on TV starring in HBO’s ‘Perry Mason’

Today, Lithgow is on the small screen once again. But it’s not in a comedic role but rather a dramatic one. He plays attorney Elias Birchard “E.B.” Jonathan in the HBO miniseries, Perry Mason

See Lithgow’s leather pants moment in 3rd Rock from the Sun by watching the series for free on the streaming service, Tubi.

RELATED: John Lithgow Says He Almost Played Hannibal Lecter in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’