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At a certain point in their careers, many actors must come to terms with whether they’re willing to perform a role that requires nudity. It’s a personal choice that varies from actor to actor. But John Lithgow faced that crossroads early on. His decision seems to have worked out — Lithgow’s roles with nudity have earned him major awards.

John Lithgow appeared nude on Broadway early in his career 

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John Lithgow at ‘The Crown’ premiere at in Hollywood in 2019 | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

John Lithgow has been a veteran of film, television, and theater since the early 1970s. But his Broadway stage debut was in a 1973 production of The Changing Room. As the title implies, the show — created by English playwright David Storey — is set in a men’s changing room. Naturally, it features a ton of male nudity, and Lithgow recently recounted his experience playing Kenny Kendal.

“I was the most nude of any of these men,” Lithgow told GQ in a video breaking down his career. “This scene where I was injured, the mud had to be bathed off me off stage, and I was brought back glistening and naked and dried and dressed as if I were a little baby. It was an extraordinary scene, but right out of the gate, appearing that nude on Broadway, that was almost more than my mother could handle.”

The actor has noticed a pattern in his career involving nudity

John Lithgow soon got over the initial shock of acting nude. In fact, it’s something he has rarely shied away from. If anything, the award-winning actor believes such risk-taking roles have been good for his career. And as he told GQ, there’s a clear pattern.

“I’ve appeared nude about five times since [The Changing Room] in an extremely varied career. And every time, I’ve won some major award. So let that be a lesson to all you young actors.”

Indeed, Lithgow won his first Tony Award for The Changing Room. He earned his second nearly three decades later for Sweet Smell of Success in 2002. In addition, Lithgow has received numerous other accoades, including six Primetime Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Drama Desk Award for Requiem for a Heavyweight.

John Lithgow co-stars in the FX series ‘The Old Man’


John Lithgow Said ‘Cliffhanger’ Was the ‘Best Job I Ever Had’

Time and again, John Lithgow has proven he can play varied roles. For his next project, the actor teams up with Oscar winner Jeff Bridges for a new FX series The Old Man. Bridges plays a former CIA operative who’s on the run, and Lithgow is the FBI agent tasked with catching him.

The show debuted in June 2022 to near-universal acclaim from critics and has already been renewed for a second season. There’s no telling yet if The Old Man will lead Lithgow back to the podium. But if there’s any nudity required on the show, perhaps he should start working on his acceptance speech.