John Lithgow: I didn't want to be an actor

John Lithgow on "CBS This Morning."
John Lithgow on "CBS This Morning."

(CBS News) Tony-winner John Lithgow knows now that work in theater - even beyond films and television - is the most fulfilling place for him to be.

From "Third Rock from the Sun" to "Dexter," Lithgow made a name for himself on the screen, but he's recently returned to Broadway. In a new play called "The Columnist," Lithgow plays Joseph Alsop, a Washington journalist who had enormous influence in the 1950s and 60s.

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But acting - and particularly, the stage - isn't where he had thought he'd make a living.

On "CBS This Morning," Tuesday he said, "I grew up in a theater family and I didn't want to go into the family business. Oddly, I wanted to be an artist, a painter and a print maker." Lithgow said, joking, "A much safer career."

"But off I went to college, and within a week I was cast in a main stage show in a leading role," Lithgow said, "As I've always said, If you hear enough laughter and applause early enough, you're going to be an actor whether you want to or not."

Watch John Lithgow's full "CBS This Morning" interview in the video above.