Marisa Tomei is ready to take on the role of Edith Bunker, and she has the wig to prove it. The Academy Award-winning actress is set to play the All in the Family character made famous by the late Jean Stapleton in upcoming live TV event, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons.
Woody Harrelson will play Archie Bunker, the working class, bigoted character originally played by Carroll O’Connor, in the highly anticipated, 90-minute special. The All in the Family special will cross over with a Jeffersons remake starring Jamie Foxx as George Jefferson — a role originally made famous by Sherman Hemsley. Wanda Sykes will play George’s wife, Louise, a character originally portrayed by Isabel Sanford in the 1970s original.
While reaction to the live TV reboot has been mixed, many fans have wondered which episodes will be remade. Marisa Tomei recently took to Instagram in order to give fans a clue as to what to expect. In her post, Tomei showed a photo of the script to the classic All in the Family episode “Henry’s Farewell,” as well as a pic of the wig she will wear to play Edith Bunker. Tomei captioned the photos by writing that she is excited to be working alongside some very capable actors on the live tribute to the classic sitcoms.
The original “Henry’s Farewell” episode featured George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) toasting his brother Henry (Mel Stewart) who was moving away to start his own dry-cleaning business. Henry’s goodbye reception was hosted by Edith at the Bunker home, a residence which George had vowed that he’d never set foot in. The “Henry’s Farewell” episode originally aired on October 20, 1973, and was the sixth episode in the fourth season of the CBS sitcom. A little more than a year later — on January 18, 1975 — The Jeffersons spinoff premiered on CBS. That show was centered on George and his successful dry cleaning chain.
There is no word on which Jeffersons episode will be recreated for the live special. In 1975, an All in the Family episode served as the pilot for The Jeffersons. “The Jeffersons Move Up” aired in January of 1975, and featured the Bunkers neighbors as they moved on up to a deluxe East Side apartment.
As for those fans who wonder if Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, and Wanda Sykes can fill the shoes of the original All in the Family and Jeffersons stars, fear not. Show creator Norman Lear told Entertainment Weekly he urged the stars to make the classic characters their own.
Brent Miller, Lear’s producing partner, said that both Lear and co-producer Jimmy Kimmel have made it clear to the cast that they have very big shoes to fill — and that they want them to feel comfortable, creatively.
“They have really, over and over again, insisted that they do not try and replicate these roles or become Jean Stapleton or Carroll O’Connor. That they take on these roles as who they feel Archie and Edith are, or George and Weezy,” Miller said.
The All in the Family reboot will feature Ellie Kemper as Archie and Edith’s daughter, Gloria Stivic, and Will Ferrell as George and Louise’s neighbor and friend, Tom Willis. The cast also includes Justina Machado, Jovan Adepo, Anthony Anderson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jackée Harry, Ike Barinholtz, Sean Hayes and Amber Stevens West, per Deadline.
Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons airs May 22 at 8 p.m. on ABC.