Ed Asner on Finding ‘Rain Beau’s End’ and His Six Decades in Television
Ed Asner is 91 and hasn’t lost a beat. The legendary actor became a household name playing The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s Lou Grant, one of TV’s most beloved curmudgeons, and has been on our TVs ever since, including, most recently on Cobra Kai and Dead to Me. Asner is currently appearing as an out-of-touch father named Gunny in the independent film, Rain Beau’s End, available on VOD March 8.
The drama centers on his onscreen daughter Hannah Driver (Janelle Snow) and her girlfriend Jules Paradise (Amanda Powell) in the 1990s who adopt a child named Beau. The couple sees their relationship tested as Beau is subsequently diagnosed with XYY Syndrome (genetic condition in which a male has an extra Y chromosome) and mislabeled with genetic predisposition for violence.
“The movie is of an exploratory nature. I think it deals with present day problems and hopefully not future problems individuals may face,” Asner said.
Here, the seven-time Emmy-winner talks with TV Insider about how he chooses roles, what motivates him to keep working, and more.
How do you choose roles these days?
Ed Asner: If a script comes to me says something that is meaningful or new. I need a well done script. Something that might test or challenge me. [Rain Beau’s End] is a story not often told. If we saw this even five years ago, it would be shocking. We may find mankind is finally being taught that we are all brothers and sisters.
What attracted you to Rain Beau’s End?
It’s a part in a ground-breaking movie. I feel like one of those Spanish explorers looking for the Mississippi right now. It’s interesting to be part of something that draws attention to a modern world. Where we have been, and where we are going. I enjoyed that aspect.
Your IMDB keeps expanding. What motivates you to keep working?
I could say I was not a good money handler. I do it to make a living. Thank God the jobs can come in that I can keep on making a living. Thank God I survive and in that surviving I get to do what formally would have been experimental films.
I enjoyed your run on Netflix’s Dead to Me.
It was a surprise to me that I ended up dying so early, but the show has brought attention to me. I’m grateful for that, and for being able to work with [Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini]. They’re the prettiest ladies I’ve worked with in a long time.
It was fun to see you pop up on Cobra Kai as well as Johnny Lawrence’s [William Zabka] rich stepdad.
I did the first season and third. I thought it was another pedestrian job. Get in and get out, do the best I can, and I’ll see ya. They brought me in for season three. Then to see the fan reaction to appearing in Cobra Kai. I just want to be in things that people can still crow about.
What’s it like for you to have so many generations enjoying your work thanks so streaming and all the new platforms.
I can cut bait and say, “It’s about time!” But I won’t. I just hope the work continues to stand up five years from now, 10 years, I don’t care when. I just wanted to make sure whatever I did and do is solid, dependable. I just hope things don’t change so much that my style becomes outdated.
Do you have a type of dream role you haven’t done yet?
I can not envision one. I don’t know. But if it turns out to be an experimental project, fine. I’m open to pitches.
Rain Beau’s End, March 8, VOD