He's done it all — the good, the bad, the sad and the really funny.

He's done it all — the good, the bad, the sad and the really funny.

That's probably what comes to mind when people think of John Lithgow. The award-winning actor starred in the television series "Third Rock From the Sun" as a leader of an alien band studying Earth. Now his followers are on Twitter, and they continue to fill the seats for his stage performances.

This summer, the 63-year-old Harvard grad has been hosting TCM's "Essentials Jr." The program showcases movies that make good entry points for teens into the world of classic cinema. Being a children's-book author and an actor made him ideal for the job.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q. Did you have any input as to what makes a film worthy of teens?

A. The answer is yes. That is exactly the mission of "Essentials Jr.," to sort of introduce younger people and families to the whole great history of moviemaking and what our great heritage is in this area. All of us who were involved in "Essentials Jr.," we just brainstormed about the movies that we loved when we were young. They are films that just captivate you. You know, you don't think of them as films for young people. They can be very sophisticated, and yet I certainly remember "Philadelphia Story" from when I was a kid because it's just a great film. Even at a young age, I knew great storytelling and I knew great acting, and that's kind of the idea.

Q. So, I see you got into the Twitter thing.

A. You know, I'm writing a book, and my publisher urged me to get onto Twitter, which was the first time I'd ever heard the word "Twitter" in my life, at least in this context. They set me up and in no time at all 10,000 people are following me. (Laughing) Sure enough, I guess it's the best publicity you could possibly generate for very cheap.

Q. What are you writing about?

A. It's a memoir that I'm certainly taking my time writing. It was triggered by a one-man show that I created last year and which I have revived and am performing at Lincoln Center in New York. In fact, I've introduced a second edition of it. It's called "Stories by Heart," and it's half acting and half just kind of talking about my own life and the various things that turned me into an actor — that is, a storyteller.