John Lithgow interview

Category: Interview

So, John: have you baked previously?

Yes, I’ve never baked brownies before, I did it once just to warm up, but they are extremely simple. I’ve baked more difficult things than that.  I’ve been working years to perfect pie crust for example.

Who taught you initially?

My wife, she’s a really good cook.  We bake together, it’s a fun thing to do, and I defer to her.

How do you rate your chances today, how is your competition looking?

I was so focused on what I was doing, they all looked like they were very accomplished, they all looked much more confident than me.  But I got a nice compliment from Paul.  He loved the taste of the brownie.  The bottom line was how it tasted, and it tasted great, so that was a surprise. I was surprised and delighted.

What is your personal signature dish?

Apple pie – it’s as American as it can be.

Are you a Bake Off fan?

Oh yes, although much more since they’ve asked me to be on it, I’ve seen loads of episodes since then, it’s just delightful - great people, and the set is extremely simpatico.

Who do you want to impress the most in the tent, Paul or Prue?

I just want to dazzle them both.

Have you had any baking disasters before?

Oh yes, I’m doing a gingerbread structure tomorrow and the only time I’ve done that before, it was a total disaster, so I’m trying to slay a demon.

What’s your strength in your baking?

My strength, I think crust, I’d love to move on and master scones and things that are very light and fluffy.  My wife is really good at that in our house, so she takes over that.

Why are you supporting Stand Up To Cancer?

It’s a combination of being very flattered to be asked to be on this show and really liking this show, and admiring what they’re doing for such a really noble cause.  Cancer has affected absolutely everybody’s life, I’ve had two different cancers, both years ago, both detected early and both never recurred, so I’m a very lucky survivor.   The good news is the word cancer is not the death sentence it used to be, it does not terrify you as much as it used to, there’s still so much to learn, particularly breast cancer, and as I say in my immediate family there has been no cancer crisis.  But we’re the exceptions, it’s still very much a compelling need to support the fight.

Have you practised your bakes, including your showstopper?

I’ve done a sort of rough sketch in both cases so I’ve taken away the abject terror, and saved that for the technical challenge!

Are you competitive would you say? Do you want to be the star baker?

No, not in a setting like this.  In ordinary life, yes, I think I have a smouldering competitive streak that I try to suppress, it’s one of the occupational hazards of the acting profession.  You’re always envying people who get the parts that you wanted or winning prizes for parts you turned down, it’s in the nature of the beast, but you have to remember that it’s all meaningless.  That the essence of acting is giving people a gift and take your satisfaction from that.

Are you a traditionalist or do you like experimenting with food?

I’m a traditionalist, I’m not a good experimenter.  I’m not an experienced enough cook to make bold experiments, pick good recipes and follow them. But great cooks of course are experimentalists, I’m not a great cook, I’m just a reliable cook.