This year’s Pixar offering is Up, which is a very non-traditional animated film in that the main character is not a cuddly robot or a toy or an animal, but a 78-year-old widower named Carl Fredericksen who decides one day to try to honor his late wife’s wishes and take a trip to South America – but he does it by using balloons to take his house into the sky, inadvertently bringing an altruistic young scout named Russell with him. Veteran actor Ed Asner, star of the classic sitcoms The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff Lou Grant, provides Carl’s voice, and he was recently asked about how the animated grump Carl compares with his iconic grump Lou.
“I think there were some differences. If you recall Lou’s history, they had married and he eventually gets divorced by his wife, Edie, who wants to lead her own life and then eventually, she even remarries in the same year or the next year. So he was not carrying the torch as Carl does. He had many things to live for, his sports, his love of his profession. And Carl, of course, I’m sure he loves blowing up balloons, but I don’t think he’s in love with balloons. There’s a great deal of difference in their lifestyles. Lou likes to have his scotch. I don’t recall seeing Carl drink. There was a difference there. Yes, they’re both grouches, but for totally different reasons.”
Is Asner himself as grumpy as the roles he’s known for? Apparently, yes. “I truly am a grouch because I find—at present I have six grandchildren, one more due June 8th. Of the six grandchildren, the oldest is nine and the others fall in, six, five, four and three. I find them to be the biggest pains in the butt you ever saw, so I just can’t compete against that noise level. So I know that eventually as circumstance throws us together, we’ll find each other and enrich each other. But right now, I’m awfully glad to be away from the noise level.”
Here’s more of Asner talking about this groundbreaking animated grouch at Cannes.