Five Questions for Lily Tomlin

She’s a feminist icon and a comedic idol who has been on the cutting edge of television, comedy, film and stage.

One of America’s foremost comediennes, she has received six Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award and a Tony Award, and has starred in numerous movies, television and stage shows.

In her latest movie “Admission”, Tomlin who stars alongside Tina Fey and Paul Rudd plays a famous sharp-tongued seventies feminist who has seen and done it all. Her role is the mother of a Princeton admissions officer played by Tina Fey who learns that a potential Princeton University applicant might be the son she gave up for adoption several years earlier.

A comedy/drama directed by Paul Weitz, Samantha Ofole-Prince caught up with the icon to get the latest scoop on the role.

In “Admission,” you play a character who is a feminist author. How did you relate to the character?
I play Tina’s mother and I related to the character as I am a feminist and know many notable feminists who wrote notable books.  I know what it is to believe in a certain philosophy. My character was an intellectual and is very brainy.

Susannah, the character you play seems very brash. Did she give a damn or was she just a radical? What’s your opinion of her?
She is 70 and has gone under the bridge as a writer and now she has a grown daughter who she doesn’t really have a relationship with which explains the way she is. We all make these choices in our lives and many of them we regret and she is that way.

You have played so many mother/daughter roles, where do you pull from to create these characters especially not having kids of your own?
You have to be a human being. I probably feel as much a mother to my cat. It’s just human relationships. We are not all so different. You don’t have to know much to understand. You just have to be open to what you are living. I can empathize with being a journalist and having to go home and write this and make something out of it. You just have to show up and make it happen.

What was your mother like and what was your relationship with her like?
She was more parental than my character is in this movie. My mother was very upbeat, funny and much wittier than I was. People liked her. She liked to hold court and be funny and people related to her.

I know that you are extremely selective with the roles and movies you take on, what made you identify with “Admission”?
I like the director’s movies. He does very interesting things with relationships – subtle work, not predictable. I met with him, and we talked about our families and our lives and plus I also wanted to work with Tina Fey. As a feminist from that era, I really plugged into the role. I had so many friends who were notable at the time, and then the times changed. I had an inkling of what it meant to follow a doctrine to the letter and then have it bite you on the other end.

Admission releases in theaters March 22

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