‘Lou Grant’: Ed Asner Said He Had ‘No Idea’ His Character Would Become Iconic

by Katie Maloney

All Ed Asner knew was that Lou Grant was “one of the most exciting characters,” he’d been offered in Hollywood.

Lou Grant was a spin-off series from The Mary Tyler Moore Show that aired from 1977-1982. The show followed Lou Grant who loses his job at WJM-TV in Minneapolis. So, he relocates to Los Angeles and takes a job as editor of the city newspaper. The show quickly soared in popularity. During a 2009 interview, Ed Asner shared that he never knew viewers would receive the show so enthusiastically.

“I had no idea,” said Asner.  “All I knew was the character I was asked to play was one of the most exciting characters I had been offered in the nine years I had been in Hollywood.”

Asner added that he didn’t even care if the network canceled the show. He was just happy to land a role on what he viewed as high-quality television.

“As I saw succeeding scripts, I was delighted by their craftsmanship and their humor,” said Asner. “I thought it didn’t matter if they canceled us after the first thirteen or not.  I will at least have had this opportunity to do this type of quality.”

Ed Asner won five Primetime Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Lou. Three Emmys were for The Mary Tyler Moore Show and two were for Lou Grant. Additionally, Bravo ranked Lou 35th on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters.

Intro for Lou Grant

Ed Asner Starred as Lead Voice for Pixar’s Up

Ed Asner won seven Emmys, five Golden Globes, served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. However, a new generation knows Asner for an entirely different project, Pixar’s 2009 animated fantasy Up. Asner voiced the lead role of crotchety Carl Fredrickson. During the movie, Fredrickson, after losing his wife, decides to use the balloons from his business to lift his home to the sky and travel the world. After finally floating into the sky, Fredrickson realizes that the little neighborhood boy inadvertently stowed himself away in the floating home. Although it’s technically a movie for kids, Up beautifully depicts adult themes such as love, loss, and transitional stages of life. During the same 2009 interview, Asner talked about the movie.

“I think it’s one of the sweetest movies to come down the pike,” said Asner. “I suppose if it gets attacked, it may get attacked for being sentimental.  But I think people will be very nicely touched by it. It’s a love story between an old man and a little kid.”

Asner joked about what it was like to switch from movie acting to voicing characters for cartoons.

“Well, you don’t have to shave,” he joked. “It’s quick. And I get enormous pleasure out of it.”