Tomlin received the fest’s Spirit of Independence trophy Wednesday at the Regal Cinemas L.A. Live. She discussed her far-ranging five-decade career with festival programmer Elvis Mitchell, covering Richard Pryor (“He took me to a porno movie; it wasn’t very good”), Robert Altman (“He would get stoned at night and be riding the crane at 5 a.m. the next morning'”) and Woody Allen.
Tomlin recalled that she had thought, “They’re such a cute couple” of Allen and then-wife Mia Farrow on the set of 1992’s “Shadows and Fog,” shortly before their acrimonious break-up. Tomlin played a prostitute in the film.
In “Grandma,” Tomlin plays a tough-talking grandmother dealing with finding funds for her granddaughter’s abortion. The film about three generations in a family is “a great story,” she said. The movie premiered at Sundance and will be released Aug. 21 by Sony Classics.
Director Paul Weitz introduced the screening by noting how he had persuaded Tomlin to do the film, shot in three weeks for under $600,000: “I had worked with Lily on ‘Admission,’ so I figured if I made a film with her in every scene, I could hang out with her.”
Weitz kept costs down by shooting the entire film in Los Angeles and Barstow. “We shot a lot of the movie in my offices in Venice,” he added. “It’s a very L.A. kind of story. And shooting here gave me access to a far better range of actors.”
Sam Elliott, who plays a former lover of Tomlin’s character, noted his 10 minutes on screen was shot briskly. “We shot 11 pages in two days, and it was very intense because of all their history.”
Tomlin, whose Netflix series “Grace and Frankie” was recently renewed, asserts that she’s not slowing down at age 75.
“I’m catching a plane tomorrow morning to go perform in Wisconsin,” she said. “I love performing wherever I can.”
(Pictured: Julia Garner, Lily Tomlin, Marcia Gay Harden and director Paul Weitz at the L.A. Film Festival opening night premiere of “Grandma”)