My Life on TV: John Larroquette Reflects on His Most Memorable Roles
During his 45-year career, the deep-voiced 6-foot-five actor has played more than 15 attorneys! In the episode streaming on Thursday, May 14, the calm but controlling Firth asks Caleb Garlin (Hugh Dancy) to keep spying on the RBL team, including Diane Lockhart (Larroquette’s one-time Happy Family costar; see more on that show below).
Here, Larroquette, who started his entertainment career as a DJ in his native New Orleans, reflects upon more of his memorable TV roles.
Doctor’s Hospital (1975)
The actor’s first TV stint was a guest spot as a young M.D.on NBC’s popular medical drama.
“It was a big deal for me,” he says. “William Windom was a series regular and the first day I got onto the magic of the set, he turned to me without introducing himself and said, ‘Do you play chess?’ When I said, ‘Yes,’ he reached into a pocket, pulled out a chess wallet with the little pieces that slide into slots and said, ‘Your move.’ For the next two weeks, we played chess every day.”
Baa Baa Black Sheep aka Black Sheep Squadron (1976-1978)
Larroquette’s first regular series role was on this NBC drama about a squadron of WWII misfit fighter pilots in the South Pacific.
“Robert Conrad was the star and he taught me a lot about the business of television, which I knew nothing about, because I came to this profession without any resume, education or connections, just blindly walked in the room.” He’s still close with fellow actors Dirk Blocker and James Whitmore Jr., who directed a recent episode of The Good Fight.
Night Court (1984–92)
Larroquette won four best supporting actor Emmys as sex-obsessed prosecutor Dan Fielding in this long running NBC sitcom.
“It was just an audition one does when one is young and trying to get a job,” he recalls. “I also read for Sam Malone,” the Cheers lead that went to Ted Danson. For Night Court, he came in for the part of Judge Harry Stone (Harry Anderson won the role). “It was one of those Hollywood stories. As I’m leaving, someone asked if I would stay and read for another role.” It was a show, he fondly recalls, “where I would ad lib and the writer would go, ‘That’s pretty funny; leave it in.’ It was a fertile ground for creating comedy.”
The John Larroquette Show (1993–96)
After rejecting a Dan fielding spinoff, the actor stuck with NBC and coproduced this comedy about well-educated John Hemingway, who manages a St. Louis bus station and like Larroquette is a recovering alcoholic. The tone lightened in Season 2, the actor says. “The network president didn’t think the dark humor based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous was funny.”
The Practice (1997–99, 2002)
He nabbed another Emmy for his flamboyant sociopathic killer Joe Heric, a recurring character on the David E. Kelley’s ABC legal drama — who becomes a licensed attorney! Larroquette still recalls his acceptance speech: “David Kelly told me, ‘I’ve got a perfect character for you.’ I thought, ‘Gee, David, what do you think of me?'”
In that over-the-top role, he was known to crack up show star Dylan McDermott, more than once.
Happy Family (2003-2004)
This rare family comedy on Larroquette’s NBC resume introduced the actor another soon-to-be multiple Emmy winner Christine Baranski, who played his character Peter Brennan’s wife Annie.
“I fell in love with her immediately.” He recalls, “We worked well together then and it’s the same now on The Good Fight, which is a drama but in some ways is very funny too. She and I work well as a comedy duo as it were. It’s always a pleasure to work with an actor who you can stand toe to toe with and they’re not going to back down and neither are you.”
Larroquette once again starred as a lawyer in 10 Hallmark movies that still run on Hallmark’s Movie Channel.
“There would be a two-hour movie every three or four weeks,” he recalls. The executive producer Dean Hargrave (Columbo, McMillan & Wife) “was a very good suspense writer and it was a great opportunity to explore a character deeply because of the length. I also directed and was a producer so I got to cast friends who l loved work with like Dirk Blocker and Gigi Rice.”
Boston Legal (2007–08)
The actor joined the ABC dramedy, also produced by Kelley, for its last two season, playing Carl Sack, a straitlaced attorney, appalled — at first — by the shenanigans employed by the irrepressible Denny Crane (William Shatner) to win a case.
“My wife and I were in our motor home, driving cross-country to visit our son at college [when] David called,” he says. “I went, ‘Should I turn around now?'” Playing opposite Shatner, James Spader, and Candice Bergen whose character Shirley Schmidt he married in a double wedding with Denny and Spader’s Alan Shore in the series’ finale, “was an interesting pool to swim in for a while, for sure.”
The Librarians (2014-2018)
When he started his role in TNT’s popular fantasy adventure, all he knew was that his character Jenkins, was an immortal caretaker of ancient artifacts stored in the so-called Annex of a mythical library, who had to put up with a newly recruited band of young people with special powers.
“In the second season, [executive producer] Dean Devin told me that Jenkins was really Galahad, the Knight of the Roundtable. It was a fun, lovely show about this weird little alternate world. I don’t do much social media, but people around the world are always commenting about how much they loved it.”
The Good Fight, CBS All Access