What has 83 years taught Lily Tomlin? 'Not much'

Adam Graham, The Detroit News on

Published in Entertainment News

DETROIT — Lily Tomlin's not one for football.

"I'm not terribly involved in sports," says the legendary actress and comedian, who was born and raised in Detroit, of her interest in Sunday gridiron showdowns. "The other girls will say, 'Oh yeah, I'm a big sports fan! And how about that when so-and-so did such-and-such?' and all that. Like someone was saying when (Tom) Brady lost the last Bucs game, 'The defense was not helping him.' Well, I might not make that conclusion."

Tomlin "took a look" at that game but didn't find herself mentally or emotionally engaged in the on-field action. "Whatever it is that makes me interested in stuff, I just don't relate to it in the way the person that is inclined that way relates to it," says the Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner and Oscar nominee. "I see a football game on television, I don't think, 'Oh my god, who's playing? Who's playing? Oh there's No. 14, oh my god, there's No. 3!' I don't know that. I haven't tried to learn."

Even though Tomlin hasn't been glued to her television during the NFL playoffs, football is relevant to the discussion because she's one of the stars of "80 for Brady," a warmhearted comedy about four senior friends who travel to the Super Bowl to root on their hero, Tom Brady. The film, co-starring Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field and yes, Tom Brady, hits theaters this week.

It's Tomlin's most high-profile big-screen role in two decades and the latest part in a career that stretches back to the late 1960s. Tomlin broke out on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" in 1969 and has been a steady presence in arts and culture ever since; she's a 30-time Emmy nominee (and seven-time winner), a winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and a 2014 Kennedy Center Honors recipient.

Ask Tomlin what she's learned during the years and she answers with typical irreverence and humor.


"Not much," says the 83-year-old.

"I'm so amazed when all my friends give interviews and they have, like, life philosophies. They all figured out so much! They have wise, eloquent things to say about the passage of time. And me? I have nothing to say."

Learning to hustle

Tomlin was born in Detroit in September 1939. Her parents moved to the Motor City from western Kentucky and settled on the city's west side, where Tomlin attended Crosman Elementary and Hutchins Intermediate Schools before landing at Cass Tech for high school.


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