Breakfast With Ed Asner
Thanks to Steve for sending this in:
He served in the Army from 1951-53. Now, as a veteran actor at 77, Ed Asner is not pulling his punches. He is known for his liberal political views (particularly his stance on the war in Iraq), as well as playing the tough but lovable Lou Grant on two television series in the 1970s and '80s. He stars in the Hallmark Channel's original holiday movie "The Christmas Card" on Saturday. It is the story of a soldier who receives a Christmas card from a stranger and how it changes his life.
Q: You're a war veteran. Would a card from a stranger have made a difference to you?
A: Well, everything is relative. I found it very easy [in the movie] to accept the fact that this rootless, alone soldier got this card, and it reminded him of all the beautiful things he left behind. I certainly would accept a card if I were a solider marooned in an action area. Having lost friends, feeling lonely and alone, yes, I certainly would accept a card.
Q: Do you enjoy your stint on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," "Does This Impress Ed Asner"? And does anything really impress you?
A: Yeah. It's fun. I'm aghast at almost all of it. I'm going to have to find a way to stand up and say I can't stand this.
Q: This might be corny, but what has left the biggest impression in your life?
A: Well, the biggest impression has been the success I've experienced. I never expected it. And I'm constantly delighted by the good turn I've enjoyed in life.
Q: You've been outspoken about your opposition to the war in Iraq. Do you think that affects the troops over there?
A: Well, for those who realize that they should never have been put in this position, I suppose they are glad that somebody is on the other side agreeing with them. For those who continue to believe that Saddam [Hussein] was connected to Osama bin Laden, that there were WMDs, that he was a threat to our freedom, I suppose they find me counterproductive or destructive.
Q: You've had great personal success. You could just sit back and enjoy things. Why get involved in politics?
A: Because I've always been a flag waver as far as America is concerned. When I see its principles being betrayed, my sense of outrage is so difficult to control, so I have to do things, say things that I hope can affect or alert or change others.
Q: Five years later, do you still believe 9/11 was an inside job?
A: I don't know what to think. I only know and think that the procedures and the investigation of it I feel were insufficient, inadequate and that had there been a different power presiding over this country they would have done far more to bring the truth to light. As it was, I think it was stymied, bottlenecked, shortchanged, edited and diffused as much as possible. I think just the simple fact of whether there was collusion or willful blindness, the fact that no heads rolled from the catastrophe in this country I think is shocking and difficult to accept as normal procedure.
Q: How about the idea that had President Clinton handled al-Qaida more effectively, there would be no 9/11? There would be no war. Do you agree with that?
A: No, I don't. But I'll be dismissed as being a partisan, I'm sure. The point is why dwell on him when far greater miscarriages of duty were done after Bill Clinton?
Q: Would you say the press has a liberal bias?
A: I don't think they did during the days of Clinton. The New York Times, the supposed vaunted leader of the liberal press, did everything they could to publicize every innuendo that was put out on him. Dogged him real good. I'm not applauding him by any means, but I must say, the man was certainly beset by an adversarial press. So I would say that is not what I call a liberal press.
Q: What are the perks of being the old man of the cinema?
A: I feel I am a better actor now than I've ever been, though physically I am unable to do some of the leaping and jumping that I once could make attempts at. But, in terms of interpretation and in terms of delivery, I celebrate my joy in acting. I've become very smug about my facility in doing it.
Q: Finally, do you miss Lou Grant?
A: No, no. One doesn't want to be buried in a character all the time. I just miss Lou Grant in the fact that a show that was so beloved by a certain section of our society was yanked unceremoniously off the public TV.