Lily Tomlin almost wasn’t part of the iconic trio in “9 to 5.”
Tomlin, 77, and Jane Fonda appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in promotion for the third season of Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie.” Fonda, who co-produced “9 to 5,” told Colbert getting Tomlin to be in the film was a rocky start.
“We started off a very dark comedy,” Fonda, 79, says. “And then one night I went to see Lily in her one-woman show, ‘Appearing Nightly.’ And what can I say — I was smitten. I said, ‘I don’t want to make a movie about secretaries unless she’s in it.’ ”
“And then on the way home I turned off the radio and Dolly Parton was singing ‘Two Doors Down’ and I thought, ‘Oh my, imagine if Dolly Parton played a secretary.’ I mean, you couldn’t see her hands. And I said, ‘In order to get them, I got to turn it into a real comedy,'” Fonda continued.
Tomlin revealed she wasn’t convinced the part was right.
“I didn’t want to do a cheap comedy,” Tomlin says. “I was looking for something more serious. And then I had to persuade her that I wasn’t the right person for her.”
A week into shooting the film, Fonda revealed Tomlin wanted out of the project.
“She asked my producing partner to let her go and she’d give the week’s money back,” Fonda says.
Tomlin says she was convinced she would be “horrible” in the film but after watching the footage the next day she decided to stay on board.
“I saw the next day’s dailies and I was so good. So I begged her to let me be in it,” Tomlin says.
Watch the interview below.