John Lithgow Previews Poems From Book Inspired by Trump Administration

Late Show Stephen Colbert  John Lithgow - Publicity - H 2019
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

John Lithgow previewed his new book, Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse, when he visited The Late Show on Wednesday. The book, which was written as poems, was inspired by the Trump administration.

In addition to writing the book, he also illustrated the cover. "I'm sort of a reckless rhymester," he said about his work as a poet. While the book will come out in October, he shared that he had just finished writing the poems the day before. "The poems kind of chronicle the last crazy two years," he explained. "They're comic, doggerel, satirical poems."

After host Stephen Colbert asked if he would be willing to share some of his poetry, Lithgow pulled a piece of paper out of his suit. "I tried, for about the past eight months, to respond in real time as much as I could to what was going on," he said before reading the first two stanzas from the last poem in the book, which were inspired from the past 10 days.

"Dumpty, by the way, is my name for our president," he prefaced the reading, which recounted Trump's reaction to Robert Mueller's report. "The report was at hand and Dumpty was manic / Awash in a flood of distemper and panic / He braced for Bob Mueller, his ruthless Javert / His heart skipped a beat when from distant D.C. / Came a call from Bill Barr, his conniving A.G."

He continued: "Dumpty lurched from his bed with a ponderous groan / And with trembling fingers he picked up the phone / 'Good news,' Barr exclaimed / 'We're home free. It's a wash' / 'The report's a big nothing. It's easy to quash."

Earlier in the appearance, the actor opened up about his love for live productions, turning to his current Broadway show, Hillary and Clinton, in which he portrays Bill Clinton alongside Laurie Metcalf, who plays Hillary Clinton. "It's a political play but much more a marriage play. It's set at a very interesting historical moment," he said.

The play recounts the 2008 New Hampshire primary election when Hillary was running against Barack Obama. "Laurie and I make absolutely no effort to imitate Bill and Hillary. We are sort of a metaphor for him," he said. "I wouldn't presume to imitate Bill. He is so much a part of our lives even now. This is a history play, but it's a very, very recent history that we're dealing with. The minute I start doggedly imitating Bill Clinton, it becomes a Saturday Night Live sketch."

Lithgow then spoke about his role as villain Jud Crandall in Pet Sematary. The film follows Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), his wife, Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two children as they move to a rural town in Maine. Once they're settled at their new home, the couple discover a mysterious burial ground hidden in the woods near their house.

"When you play a villain, he's always your favorite character," he said. "I went to see it with my wife in an empty theater, and it scared the shit out of me. And I knew all my lines; I knew what was coming."

Watch Lithgow's full appearance below.