Lily Tomlin initially thought she was terrible in ’9 to 5′ and asked to be fired from the movie
Lily Tomlin thought she was terrible.
With her 9 to 5 co-star Jane Fonda sitting alongside her on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the comedy icon how admitted she tried to get out of the 1980 workplace comedy early in its filming.
It had taken Fonda – a producer on the film – a year to convince Tomlin to sign on. She had done very few films at that time and been nominated for an Academy Award for her feature film debut in Nashville.
‘I didn’t want to do a cheap comedy,’ Tomlin to Colbert on Monday. ‘I was looking for something more serious. I had to persuade her that I wasn’t the right person for her.’
Even after Tomlin agreed to star with Fonda and Dolly Parton as secretaries who take on their monstrous male boss, Tomlin was still having second thoughts.
Fonda recalled that after a week of filming Tomlin ‘asked my producing partner to let her go and she would give the week’s money back.’
The problem was Tomlin had watched a scene in which the three office workers smoke some particularly strong marijuana and have some hallucinations.
Explained Tomlin: ‘I saw myself on screen in the dailies and I was talking to the birds that weren’t there and I was not doing a good job. I thought, “Oh, I’m going to be horrible this.”‘
But her attitude quickly changed just a day later.
‘I saw the next day’s dailies and I was so good! So I begged her to let me be in it.’
Fonda had been developing the film when she saw Tomlin performing live on stage and was convinced the Laugh-In alum would be perfect to play alongside of her.
Then on the ride home from Tomlin’s show she heard Parton on the radio singing Two Doors Down and the rest, as they say, is history.
Fonda and Tomlin have remained close friends and are now starring in the third season of their hit Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie which premiered this week.