On “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Ed Asner played Lou Grant, Mary Richards’ (Mary Tyler Moore) gruff yet endearing TV news boss. And along with Betty White, who played TV homemaker Sue Ann Nivens, Asner is one of the last surviving members of that classic show’s cast.
The Hollywood Reporter recently caught up with Asner, 91, and asked the seven-time Emmy winner about his longevity and his career in show business.
Regarding the former, Asner said he doesn’t feel 91. In fact, he said if he had the time to get a tune-up, he’d feel much younger.
“If it weren’t for my bad left leg, I would feel younger,” he told THR. “I’ve got many parts that need to be bolstered and refurbished. And I haven’t got time to undergo all those changes.”
As for his bucket list? “I haven’t climbed Suribachi!” Asner quipped, referring to the Japanese volcano that U.S. Marines scaled when they took Iwo Jima in World War II. “No, I think just ensuring that I’ve left enough for the family.”
‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Was More Fun than His Own Spinoff, Asner Said
After “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Asner got his own spinoff, “Lou Grant,” an hour-long drama about a Los Angeles newspaper newsroom. It lasted from 1977 to 1982, when CBS canceled it. But before the network did, the show won 13 Primetime Emmys.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” won 29 Primetime Emmys, and although Asner did not play the central character on that show, he said it was more fun than his own show.
“The effect of the laugh at the right moment was enormously restorative and energizing. You don’t have that with an hour show, you just don’t,” he told THR. “There’s nothing more fun than hearing rip-roaring laughter from an audience.”
Asner Says the Pandemic Has Changed His Life
Meanwhile, Asner has been mostly holed up indoors during the pandemic. He said the coronavirus has changed the way he lives. And he lamented the effect it’s had on the performing arts. But he seems to be an avid and opinionated news consumer, and he finds various ways to pass the time.
“It changed my life,” Asner told THR. “It seems like it’s changed everybody’s life — and I think it’s changed performing and creativity as much as anything else. My eyesight is not the greatest and my hearing is not the greatest, so I don’t go out much anyway. I sit here most of the time, bored as hell, not sure which way to turn. I don’t know. I’m waiting for the next gig, and they’re slower in coming in now, I can tell you.”
Fortunately, Asner has avoided any brushes with COVID-19 himself, which at his age could prove to be deadly. And since “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” he’s worked on a range of projects – most recognizably to younger generations, the movies “Elf” and “Up.” So it’s only a matter of time until his next gig comes along.