Will Ferrell has big shoes to fill taking on the iconic role of Tom Willis for ABC’s TV special, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons, but as one of our generation’s most prolific comedians, there’s few else who could do this character justice.
Originally played by the late Franklin Cover, Tom Willis was one half of the first interracial couple to be featured on a mainstream sitcom. His fictional wife, Helen, originally played by Roxie Roker on The Jeffersons, a role which be taken over by Kerry Washington in the remake.
Rounding out the cast of The Jeffersons reboot are Jamie Foxx as George Jefferson, Wanda Sykes as Louise Jefferson, Jovan Adepo as Lionel Jefferson, Anthony Anderson as Uncle Henry, Stephen Tobolowsky is set to play Mr. Bentley, and Jackée Harry will play Diane Stockwell. Ferrell serves also serves as a producer for the live, one night only production, alongside original show creator Norman Lear, ABC’s Late Night host Jimmy Kimmel, who’s hosting the special, Brent Miller, Adam McKay, and Justin Theroux.
The 90-minute event, directed by 10-time Emmy winner James Burrows, will feature a remake of the Season 4 episode six of All in the Family, the original show preempted the spinoff series, The Jeffersons, which officially premiered in 1975. The beloved sitcom ran for 10 years before its finale episode in 1985. All in the Family ran from 1971 to 1979.
The star studded cast continues with Oscar winner Marisa Tomei playing Edith Bunker, Woody Harrelson as Archie Bunker, and Ellie Kemper as Gloria Stivic. Even TV icon Lear is impressed by the set of actors taking over these roles. “They have said over and over again that these two shows were meant for the ’70s and would not work today,” Lear said. “We disagree with them and are here to prove, with two great casts depicting ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons,’ the timelessness of human nature. I cannot wait to see what these glorious performers make in our time of these indelible characters.”