John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor in Twenty Good Years
Twenty Good Years brings John Lithgow back to television after Third Rock from the Sun ended in 2001, and Jeffrey Tambor just a year after Arrested Development. Neither were itching to return.
Lithgow and Tambor Return for Twenty Good Years
“As always, an actor runs to a good script,” said Tambor. “The very weekend that Arrested went to sitcom heaven, on Friday night I received a script from my agent. He said, ‘You don’t want to get excited about this but you want to see this?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, send it over.’ Saturday morning I called him and said, ‘Is Arrested going down?’ He said yes. I said, ‘Put this in the works.’ It was great. Believe me when I say this does not happen to actors on a regular basis. Literally, one door opened as another one closed and what was sad became one of the most happy situations.”
Lithgow had just ended a successful theater run. “I wasn’t thinking to do another series at all if ever,” he said. “I always felt about 3rd Rock that that was as good as it gets. My only rule was it had to be as good or better than that experience. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I just somehow didn’t think a sitcom was in the offing. I was on Broadway in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the time and I’d been pretty much doing theater from the moment 3rd Rock ended. Consciously or unconsciously I decided to go play for a small audience for a while and fly under the radar. And I was very happy. I bought a New York apartment and I was thinking New York.”
So what changed his mind? “I got a phone call from Tom [Werner] saying, ‘Would you consider a sitcom idea?’ Well, it’s easy to say yes to that but I have to say Tom is just about the only one I would have said yes to. And for the next six months, we just talked in terms of the development of this idea. It got better and better. We talked about Jeffrey very early on but it was more in a tone of regret because we thought we could never have him because of Arrested Development. And at the very last moment, literally a day later and it would have been too late to do a pilot, Jeffrey became available and all the ducks were suddenly in a row. It was really one of the great last minute saves.”