John Lithgow, 70: "Life Is A Series Of Marvelous Surprises"

At the age of 20 I raced ahead to adulthood and got married. It was a long marriage, 11 years, and I have a wonderful son, so I have to discipline myself not to consider it a mistake in my life. It is something that defined me. If I could take younger myself in hand, I would tell him to be patient – but it is very hard to tell a 20-year-old he is not an adult yet. Especially after my crazy childhood, which had a way of persuading me I was an adult. I had to take the situation in hand a number of times.

My shyness kicked in around my love life. I was hopelessly inept and had a total lack of confidence. My advice to my younger self is just to lighten up – and find the most sexually active man on campus and get good advice from him.

I would tell my younger self to rely on his talents. I was a resourceful kid. I immersed myself in my own projects, and that is still completely typical of me. I am in A Delicate Balance with Glenn Close on Broadway but spending my days on a new short story to incorporate into my one-man show. I do one-night stand gigs, and they are all mine. I am not waiting to be hired. Actually, that is advice my young self gave me – stay creative and find projects that don’t depend on other people.