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Actress Lily Tomlin on the new film '80 for Brady'


Tom Brady may be retiring, he says, for good. But in the new movie "80 For Brady," we get to revisit one of his greatest wins - the 2017 Super Bowl. In the film, Lily Tomlin plays one of four friends trying to make their dream of seeing the football star play that game come true.


JANE FONDA: (As Trish) Maybe I'll just stay home.

LILY TOMLIN: (As Lou) And mope around? No. We're going to the Super Bowl to enjoy men the way the Romans did - sweaty, piled on top of one another, tight pants.

RASCOE: The other three friends are played by the great Rita Moreno, Jane Fonda and Sally Field. We're joined now by Lily Tomlin. Thank you so much for being with us.

TOMLIN: Oh, that's right. I'm totally happy to be here.

RASCOE: So this week, Tom Brady announced that he is finally retiring for good. Do you think that it was because of the movie, he felt like he had fulfilled everything he needed to fulfill?

TOMLIN: No, I don't really think it - and I don't even know if it's going to stick. I mean, he could change his mind again, too.

RASCOE: In the movie, you play four friends who are trying to get to the Super Bowl. You love Tom Brady. You know, in the movie, he's talking to you. He's encouraging you. What do you feel like you can take from Tom Brady, like, for your life?

TOMLIN: Well, I mean, I'm not sure. They might arrest me or put me in some home. He talks to me quite often.

RASCOE: In the movie, yes. No one else sees him.

TOMLIN: I seem to hear him.

RASCOE: Yes. And what I - what stood out to me about the film is not only - you had a lot of fun, obviously, but it's really a story about the friendship between these women. And I saw an interview where Jane Fonda had this beautiful saying where she said, like, women - you know, men sit beside each other, but women sit across from each other. They look each other in the eye when they're friends.

TOMLIN: Right.

RASCOE: What does this movie tell us about what it means for women to support each other?

TOMLIN: I think it's kind of a natural impulse that somehow has gotten corrupted over time in the competitive society we live in. And now women are coming around to being their true selves. They do have that kind of interest in one another, as opposed to the male friendship that is not as supportive, is not as emotional. Women always congregated and - they were left at home to care for the children, to cook and harvest food. And now women have more freedom, and they're - they seem to be really into that kind of trip.

RASCOE: You know, the thing that brought the women - the four women - together around football in the movie was your character's chemotherapy treatment. And, you know, recently we found out that Jane Fonda was, you know, dealing with cancer in real life. Like...

TOMLIN: Right.

RASCOE: ...What was that like, having kind of art and life intersect?

TOMLIN: In a way, women of our age are dealing with that all the time, in some peripheral arm's-length way. It's like, you know, you've lived more of your life than you have left. I used to say to Jane, well, I wonder which one of us will die first. I mean, that was...

RASCOE: Oh, no. Don't say that.

TOMLIN: It was jocular, you know?

RASCOE: Yes. Yeah, yeah.

TOMLIN: As one might say. And it's not so far from the reality of where we are.

RASCOE: I mean, on a lighter topic, there was a lot of dancing in this movie.

TOMLIN: (Laughter).

RASCOE: What, like, did you - what was it like doing the choreography for this? I did notice in one of the dance numbers, you were, like, in the back, not up front.

TOMLIN: Yeah, I put myself back there. I - although I could have probably kept up with them. But, I was just - I was unsure about what we were doing at the stadium at that time.


TOMLIN: And it was better if I was in the back. Sally said about - you know, about Rita, she said she was, like, all hepped up and - because she was, like, keeping up with Rita. And Rita's, like, such a dancer and has been a dancer for many decades. And then Rita said to her, yeah, but I was just dancing down.


TOMLIN: So I didn't want to be accused of that. I didn't want to be, like - have Rita turn to me and say, and that goes for you, too.

RASCOE: Are there enough scripts out there for women in their 60s, 70s and 80s? Is it getting better?

TOMLIN: Well, I mean, if you looked at us, you would think so. Jane and I just came off this seven-year series about older women. It was amazing to us, during "Grace And Frankie," that we had such a diverse audience. I mean, young people came to the show and then brought their grandmothers or their mothers, and mothers and grandmothers brought their granddaughters and their kids. It was broad-based enough, or whatever the story was. I don't know how Netflix had the notion that it was going to work, but they did.

RASCOE: So what's your Super Bowl, that thing that you want to get done soon?

TOMLIN: Oh, you know, I mean, I'm sort of torn between, you know, lying in a hammock by a babbling stream and working my tail off until my tail drops. I don't really know. I just have to take it as it comes. I don't know what it will be.

RASCOE: You could do a little bit of both, don't you think? You could do - keep working on fun stuff...

TOMLIN: Yeah, no, that's what I've done, and what I used to do if I - because it was hard to get parts if you were - you know, I wanted to get serious acting roles, and I'd already done so much comedy that people just thought of me that way. So I always created my own job. It's just the way my career went. When I was starting out, I'd go to the improv and I'd do some bit I was working on, and someone would say, you could really make it if you would do it this way or that way. I'd say, I don't like to see a male comic do, you know, mother-in-law jokes or his wife jokes and so on. I said, I'd rather do the mother-in-law so that you can see what she was like.

RASCOE: That's Lily Tomlin. She stars in "80 For Brady," playing in theaters now. It is very, very funny. Thank you so much for joining us.

TOMLIN: Oh, thank you, Ayesha. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe
Ayesha Rascoe is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and the Saturday episodes of Up First. As host of the morning news magazine, she interviews news makers, entertainers, politicians and more about the stories that everyone is talking about or that everyone should be talking about.