Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lily Tomlin Finds Kinship with Tough-Minded Feminist Character in 'Grandma'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lily Tomlin Finds Kinship with Tough-Minded Feminist Character in 'Grandma'

Article excerpt

Lily Tomlin leads history lesson in 'Grandma'


TORONTO - Lily Tomlin didn't have to stretch much for her latest film "Grandma," in which she plays a sharp-tongued feminist and lesbian.

The legendary comic and actress admits her cantankerous character Elle is "not unlike me in so many ways," right down to the car she drives and the clothes she wears.

Writer/director Paul Weitz devised the script specifically for Tomlin after the two worked together on his 2013 college comedy "Admission," and Tomlin found herself casually inserting her own personal touches as the project developed.

"I was with the costume designer and she brought things and I tried them on and I kept saying, 'Well, maybe I should just wear the clothes I just took off,'" Tomlin says matter-of-factly in a recent phone interview from New York.

"The car is just an accident. We were meeting and (Weitz) said, 'I have to go and see a car,' and I said, 'Well, I have an old car.' We went over to my house and he liked it. He said, 'Does it drive?' I said, 'Yeah, sort of.'"

The clunker ends up being a key part of the emotional comic road movie, in which Elle and her 18-year-old granddaughter Sage, played by Julia Garner, spend a day trying to collect on debts so the teen can pay for an abortion.

The misanthropic Elle is fresh from a breakup with girlfriend Olivia, played by Judy Greer, and obviously still consumed by grief over the death of her previous partner.

The former academic and once-prominent poet finds herself schooling Sage on the history of the women's movement, shocked that the teen has never heard of "The Feminine Mystique."

Weitz says he liked the idea of exploring that generational gap.

"I think that, literally, this generation has completely forgotten what certain words mean," says Weitz, whose other films include "About A Boy" and "Little Fockers."

"There's been a somewhat stigmatization of the word feminist, which I think is now coming around a little bit again. …

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