Edward Asner, in his second week of rehearsals for Broadway’s forthcoming Grace with Paul Rudd, Michael Shannon and Kate Arrington, doesn’t doubt that the Craig Wright play will elicit some controversy. “I think there will be some people who hate it. We deal with the God question quite a bit. We question God within the play, but,” he adds, “I think that godly people will be able to find that it is a godly presentation. I think it will create a lot of different discussions.”
Asner’s character is an exterminator who comes to rid two apartments of vermin. One apartment belongs to a born-again Christian couple, the other to a NASA scientist scarred by a devastating automobile accident in which his girlfriend died. “It’s serio-comedic – more serio than comedic, but the laughs are there,” says Asner, who points out that the play won awards during its L.A. run. “I for one deny the existence of God, but I change my mind later in the show. Not that I accept God, but that there is something out there. The born-again couple have difficulty retaining the intensity of their faith, and the NASA scientist, who is bitter and ironic, is neither for nor against, by falling in love within the piece, I think he would agree that there is something out there, that is designed to take away our bitterness and make more acceptance of life.”
Grace starts previews mid-September with an October 4th opening planned. We caught up with Ed while he was enjoying a celebratory post-rehearsal Jameson’s with Arrington and Wright. When we note that the rigors of doing a Broadway show might have been too much for the 82-year-old seven-time Emmy winner back in 2010, before his hip replacement surgery, he replies that there might be some doctors who say he couldn’t do it now. “But they’re full of crap. I feel fine. I work out every day…push-ups, sit-ups, elliptical or track. And I walk. And I look for sex wherever I go,” he adds mischievously. “It’s harder to find these days, though.”
Asner’s in the midst of a work blitz that also includes an upcoming episode of “Hawaii 5-O,” the independent film “Let Go,” and the 2013 Hallmark Channel original movie “Two In” with Alison Sweeney. “I finish this run at the end of January, and at the end of January I will resume touring with my one-man FDR show.” So he has to stay in shape.
“As long as I get work, I’ve got to be able to fulfill it.”