At eighty-eight, seven-time Emmy Award-winner Ed Asner has no plans to slow down. While other octogenarians are enjoying retirement, he is as busy as ever.
“I’m a fool if I’m not busy, and I need to keep my brain processes working,” says Asner by phone from his home in California.
Best known for his movie and television work, including eight years on the groundbreaking 1970’s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Asner is also an accomplished stage actor.
Having previously appeared on Broadway in the dark comedy, Grace, and toured with his one-man show FDR, Asner has returned to the stage in another one-man show, A Man and His Prostate.
Written by Asner’s long-time friend, Ed Weinberger, whose own impressive credits include a lengthy career in television, A Man and His Prostate is based on Weinberger’s real-life story of becoming ill while vacationing in Italy.
Weinberger’s near-tragedy is performed as a monologue by Asner as he visits the hospital in preparation for a surgery he needs but doesn’t want. And while the subject matter may sound very serious, it is actually a comedy.
“People love to laugh,” says Asner. “It livens them and it leaves them open to listening to the sobriety of the message.”
Set to play New Westminster’s Anvil Centre later this month, this is not Asner’s first time north of the 49th parallel. Asner previously appeared in the CBC television sitcom, Michael: Every Day and the television series, Forgive Me, for which he was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award in 2017. “My best work has been in Canada,” he says.
While Asner may be proud of the work he has done in Canada, it is his recollections of time on The Mary Tyler Moore Show which brings back the fondest memories. “We loved going to work, we loved putting it in the can. It was just joy for seven years,” he says.
Asner is equally proud of the work he did on the drama, Lou Grant, the hour-long spin-off based on his original character from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Winning a total of 13 Emmy Awards over its five seasons, including two for Asner in the outstanding lead actor category, the show was abruptly cancelled in 1982, despite its solid ratings.
“The thing about the Lou Grant show is that it had never been done before,” says Asner. “Your star is a character from a half hour, three hundred audience comedy show, and you’re turning it into an hour or less no-audience single camera drama show. So, it’s a big switch and some people weren’t really ready to make that switch.”
But while it is easy to reminisce about the halcyon days of television with shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant, the reality for Ed Asner is of an actor who is still very much in demand.
With some twelve projects listed as announced, or in pre- or post-production on IMDB, Asner is just as busy now as he has ever been. Add the tour with A Man and His Prostate, and Asner’s star burns as bright as ever.
A Man and His Prostate plays the Anvil Centre in New Westminster on April 27 & 28. Visit http://anvilcentre.ca for tickets and information.