Asner: It's 'a self-improvement movie'

Actor Ed Asner sat in a Costa Mesa TV studio last week, fiddling with his tie.

He was about to go on the air to discuss his latest film, "Should've Been Romeo," which has its world premiere Saturday at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

"Hopefully people will see it, like it and spread the word," the"Mary Tyler Moore Show"star said about his film.

Asner, 82, plays Charlie, a grandfather who's been dropped on his grandson Joey Tucker's doorstep. Joey is then forced to deal with the octogenarian's antics.

During the film Joey also finds out he is a father and a grandfather, with the arrival of two other guests on his doorstep.

The film follows Joey as his bachelor lifestyle conflicts with newfound responsibility.

Asner says Charlie is attempting to pass down his "nicer qualities" to his struggling grandson.

"This is a self-improvement movie," he said with a smirk.

A self-proclaimed curmudgeon, Asner said he liked playing Charlie because "he's so much nicer a human being than I am."

"I like to take on those roles because people mistake it for the truth," he said with a laugh.

He said he was drawn to the film, which was envisioned by leadPaul Ben-Victor, because of his character, the script and the conflict that takes place. He also likes the fact that the film is family-friendly and appeals to multiple generations.

There won't be anyone shot or heads chopped off in this film, he said.

The film also stars Kelly Osbourne, "Prison Break" star Michael Rapaport, Evan Handler of "Californication," "The Secret Circle" star Natasha Henstridge, Renée Taylor of "The Nanny" and Tina Majorino of "Napoleon Dynamite."

With Asner's quick wit, charm and adoring fans, it's no surprise the television icon's career isn't slowing down.

"Keeping your wheels greased is an important thing," Asner said as he talked about multiple projects he has in the works.

Associate Producer Robert Novak, Ben-Victor's cousin, called the film a "labor of love" that's taken 12 years to make.

Friends and family kept the project going, Novak said. Ben-Victor and his mother, Leah Kornfeld-Friedman, wrote the script. Marc Bennett, Ben-Victor's best friend, directed the film.

"When family gets together, great things can happen — or crazy things can happen," Novak said with a laugh.

It's likely that the film has a little bit of both.

Twitter: @joannaclay

If You Go

What: Should've Been Romeo world premiere

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Regency Lido Theatre at 3459 Via Lido, Newport Beach

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