Lily Tomlin and the generational feminism of her new film ‘Grandma’

08.19.15 2 years ago

I don't keep a running list of all the people I have or haven't interviewed over the last 17 years. I think my first official Ain't It Cool interview was either with Brad Bird or maybe Neil Gaiman. Or was it Kevin Spacey? I have memories of many of the interviews I've done. Specific questions or reactions. But as many things as I remember, I'll bet I've forgotten five times more things, simply because of the sheer volume of all of the interviews I've done.

There are people I know I've never spoken with, though, because if I had, those memories would not fade. And one of the people that I have always wanted to meet and talk to about their work was Lily Tomlin. I say “was” because as of last Friday, she is no longer on my “to do” list. We sat down to talk about her new film, “Grandma,” as well as anything else I could pack into 20 minutes, and the result was a delightful way to spend part of a busy afternoon.

When she swept into the room with all of the various publicists associated with the film, she was immediately disarming. We introduced ourselves, I showed her which seat she'd be in, and we ran a mic check for my camera crew. I loved knowing that Matt Perez-Mora, who is one of the wizards running the HitFix video department these days, was freaking out behind his camera. He'd told me earlier that day how much “All Of Me” means to him, and I made sure that by the end of things, we'd touched on that film, along with things like “Nashville,” the era of the stand-up comic/network variety special, her work with Jane Fonda on “Grace and Frankie,” Lisa Kudrow and “Web Therapy,” and the way it feels like we're having to repeat some of the gains of the feminist movement of the '60s for some reason. It's a pretty special conversation to me, and after we finished recording, she sat for a moment and we talked more about Carl Reiner and about an encounter she had with Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft during the Broadway run of her remarkable show, “The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life In The Universe,” and I walked away thrilled that she was exactly who I'd hoped.

“Grandma” is in theaters on Friday.

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