In a recent episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, actor John Lithgow sat down to discuss his upcoming PBS special, “Art Happens Here.” The special takes Lithgow back to high school, where he explores the importance of arts and education. Lithgow reminisced about his own high school experience, particularly in his art classes, where he aspired to be an artist.

Going back to high school was a nerve-wracking experience for Lithgow, as he wanted to capture the electric connection between a great art teacher and eager students. Despite his success as an actor, the students at the high school had never really heard of him until someone mentioned his role in Shrek. This revelation sent them into a frenzy of excitement.

Lithgow also shared an amusing anecdote about being mistaken for other actors. While eating at a diner during a layover between flights, Lithgow was approached by a hostess who thought he resembled Charles Grodin. When Lithgow corrected her, she immediately pulled out her phone and showed him pictures of Grodin in disbelief. Similarly, Lithgow mentioned how people occasionally mistake him for Steven Colbert, which he takes in stride.

During the conversation, Lithgow emphasized the undervaluation of arts education in the United States. He believes that creativity and the chance to express oneself through art are vital in helping young people discover their true identities. Lithgow pointed out that there used to be full-time art and music teachers in nearly every public school but laments that this is no longer the case. He called for a resurgence of arts education, particularly as the pandemic has disrupted traditional schooling, causing many students to miss out on essential learning and social development.

Wrapping up the interview, Lithgow mentioned his upcoming project, “The Old Man,” in which he stars alongside Jeff Bridges. Lithgow praised Bridges as a fantastic actor and a wonderful friend, recalling the six days they spent shooting a scene together in a car. During that time, they bonded, sharing stories about their families and cracking jokes. Lithgow retold a joke that Bridges had shared with him, signaling the strong camaraderie and friendship they formed during the shooting of the show.

As fans eagerly await the premiere of “Art Happens Here,” it is clear that John Lithgow is passionate about highlighting the significance of arts and education in today’s society. His experiences in high school and his interactions with students have reinforced his belief that the creative arts can play a significant role in shaping young minds and fostering a love for learning.