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Together they could fill a hall of fame with their statuettes. Lily Tomlin, 83, has Tonys, Emmys, a Grammy, and last year pressed her hands and Converse sneakers into wet cement to commemorate her star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The accolades for Jane Fonda, 85, require a separate Wikipedia page to catalog them all. At 76, Sally Field has three Emmys, a pair of Golden Globes and two Oscars. And then there’s Rita Moreno, who at 91 is one of only 17 performers in history to have received an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony, the showbiz grand slam known as an EGOT.
Between them, they are credited with more than 100 movie roles, accounting for over $6.5 billion at the global box office, and literally hundreds of TV episodes, Broadway shows and hit records. You might think that these legends are so self-satisfied with their accomplishments, so taken with their own stupendous success, that the concept of what some might call fangirling — being an over-the-top fan to someone else — simply wouldn’t apply.
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Take the case of Tom Brady, 45, the seven-time Super Bowl champion and football’s most illustrious “unretiree,” who returned to the NFL this season just six weeks after officially calling it quits last February.
“Oh, he’s remarkable in his work, just remarkable,” Moreno says.
“He’s at the top of his game and the best in his field, and beyond that, he’s gorgeous, kind and sweet,” says Fonda.
“Your jaw drops at the skill level,” Field says.
“He’s like a great big, beautiful, perfect 20-year-old that you’d want to be your son,” gushes Tomlin.
Fandom clearly has no expiration date, at least as it pertains to the holder of nearly every major NFL quarterback record and the guy making this group of venerable actors sound like starstruck teenagers. (“I mean, he came around to our trailers with jerseys for each of us and said such nice things,” Fonda says.) The women — along with the object of their adulation — appear on-screen for the first time together this month in the sports comedy 80 for Brady. It’s a heartwarming, cheer-from-your-seats romp about four lifelong friends and die-hard New England Patriots football fans who embark on a raucous late-in-life road trip to watch Brady play in the 2017 Super Bowl. The movie is inspired by a true story about a group of gung ho Brady-loving grandmas (the real ones never got to the game), but it’s mostly a fun-loving meditation on goofy sports traditions, bonds built around tailgates, and the agelessness of passion.
For the high-profile Hollywood friends who made 80 for Brady, the project was a chance to reflect not just on what it means to be a fan and what their legions of fans mean to them, but also on the decades these performers have spent respecting and rooting for one another. And how could they not? Since her early roles in Singin’ in the Rain, The King and I and West Side Story, Moreno has brought exuberance to the screen like no one else. Fonda’s appearances in films from Barefoot in the Park and Barbarella to Coming Home and The China Syndrome helped her become a leading actress of her generation. Tomlin broke through on television, with comedy on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, playing characters like the telephone operator Ernestine and childlike Edith Ann in an oversize rocking chair. Long before she and Fonda costarred in the recent TV hit Grace and Frankie, they made 9 to 5 together, and in January released another big-screen comedy, Moving On. Field is credited with some of the greatest of all boomer hits: Gidget, The Flying Nun, Smokey and the Bandit, Norma Rae, Mrs. Doubtfire, Forrest Gump — and that’s just the 20th century. “I guess you can say we’ve done OK for ourselves,” deadpans Moreno.
Sitting down for a revealing (and frequently hilarious) conversation with AARP, the four actors opened up about their famous friendships, the hero encounters that have intimidated even them and why being a fan never gets old.