Ed Asner is truly iconic. People from every generation know him, whether it’s as cranky newsman Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” or the voice of a grieving widower in Pixar’s “Up.”
Asner is not only a respected actor, he is also an activist, who at one point was the President of the Screen Actors Guild. He has made his mark not only on the screen and the stage, but also in people’s hearts through his wit, charm and big heart.
The 89-year-old has made such a mark that the documentary “Ed Asner: On Stage and Off” highlights his life as a whole, not just as a “star.” Bostonians can get an in-person glimpse of Asner June 18 (7:30 p.m.) at the Regent Theatre, when Asner hosts a screening of the documentary and a Q&A after. Asner sat down with Metro to discuss the new documentary, his favorite roles and his activism.
How did you feel after you learned there was going to be a documentary made about your life?
I was not involved with the production, but I was honored when I found out the documentary was being made, I hope it sells tickets. I don’t think I knew right away that it was going to be made, I’ve had several [documentaries].
What does the film cover? Your career, life, or a little bit of everything?
It goes into my radical roots and my passion for causes, really the whole nine yards. I’m quite pleased by its coverage [of my life] during that time. After I watched the film, I blushed.
Now jumping to your career, were there any roles that stuck out to you as your favorite?
Certainly, all are very memorable [for me] but there’s Lou Grant from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” I loved doing that character. I was proud to make it my own, and I was thrilled to have done it. There were short-lived efforts with others that [were also] worth doing. They’ve all been a narrow road traveled, the characters are much alike and they had the same attitude. I never felt I made a mistake in choice, maybe in other things, but never in choice.
I know you were involved with speaking your mind about causes and politics, do you think that acting gave you that platform and that voice to have your opinions heard?
Oh sure, I was always known as an activist in the business. I didn’t have to sell my political credentials. I was a union man and I believed the union there is “sanct.”
Overall what can people expect from your documentary and event?
It’s a complete documentary, and I will stand and die with it.