Ed Asner is still acting in his eighties. But his quick wit and unique outlook on life make him able to transcend the age gap. An entertainer for all generations, he has played endearing roles for the younger set such as Santa Claus in Elf and Carl in Up. But others will always remember him for his seven-year stint as journalist Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Now he has returned to Broadway to star in Grace with Paul Rudd, which is playing until Jan. 6.
You have seven Emmy Awards. Where do you keep them?
They’re scattered throughout the house. There are none in the outhouse.
You’ve come back to Broadway after 23 years. How has it changed?
It’s less grandiose. Penny-pinching has gone on everywhere—film, TV, life. And it certainly affects Broadway as well as every other element of showbiz.
Is Paul Rudd as funny as he is in movies?
No. I haven’t laughed at him yet.
Any funny set stories?
No. We’re so serious and dedicated. We’re growling most of the time about directors or writers, you name it. We really don’t have time. I could have said the same thing for the seven years at Mary Tyler Moore. It was not the laugh-and-scratch type atmosphere that you would expect from such a delightful show.
You came from LA to do this play. What do you like about living in New York?
I’m still searching.
You tweet very frequently. Do you write your own tweets?
No. My son does.
You whacked Barbara Walters’ tush on The View. Why did you do that?
To get a reaction from Barbara Walters like that. She reacted properly.
In your Facebook picture, you are holding up a “Vote Now” sign.
People should not surrender their right to vote. They should exercise it even though they can’t stand anybody. Even if they write in “none of the above.”
What is your advice to voters this November?
Hold your nose.
You do a lot of work with autism. Why do you think this is such a worthy cause?
Because I have a son who has autism. And I have a grandson who has autism. And I know the world’s attention must be focused on it and come to understand these people and to work for their betterment and greater ability to enter and function in society.
You played Santa Claus in Elf. Did Will Ferrell at least make you laugh?
Oh yeah. He’s an unbelievably dedicated actor. He made me the Santa Claus I am today.
What memories stay with you from your work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show?
Nothing but bliss.
You voiced the main character in Up. Did you think the movie would get so many accolades?
No I didn’t. I don’t know whether it was nerves or what. Its largeness and its prominence really didn’t gel on me until I saw it for about the third time.
When do you plan to retire?
Death must come before retirement.
What do you still want to do that you haven’t yet?
I want to see my kids ripen into old age. I want to see my grandkids mature and develop and become acceptable.
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