Views on aging from John Cleese, 78, Nathan Fillion, 47, & Jane Fonda, 80-and-a-half

Jason Watkins, John Cleese and Alison Steadman in “Hold The Sunset” on Britbox. Credit BBC

 Memorable moments from the Television Critics Association’s 2018 summer press tour came when several performers gave a glimpse of their comedic ease when questioned about aging. 

Like a fine wine that gets better with age, John Cleese showed off his comedic ease when he held court via satellite for the TCA. Cleese has a new comedy, Hold the Sunset, premiering this Fall on Britbox, the British BBC-ITV streaming-service. The master of hilarity (as witnessed by Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fans) plays a man who wants to marry his old flame Edith (Alison Steadman) and enjoy their sunset years together, but then her adult son (Jason Watkins) moves back with his mother and spoils his plans.

 Cleese said, “For the first time in my life, I’m playing myself. My wife said it’s the first time that she’s ever seen me onscreen and recognized me because I just sit there making snarky remarks and hoping someone else will open the front door.”

 When asked by a reporter to comment on another comedian’s theory that every funny person is 6-foot-5. Cleese, who remains a towering 6-foot-5 at age 78, responded, “Yes, this is true. The very best comedians are very tall, there’s no doubt about it, up to about the age of 60, then height becomes a handicap, because you get old and stiff. Trying to get into things like cars becomes a major undertaking. So I would say for the first 60 years of my life, I was very grateful that I was tall. And now it’s very inconvenient.”

 Cleese also reflected on his greatest professional and personal accomplishments with a silly deadpan response. He said, “My greatest professional accomplishment will be a movie I’m writing now. It’s a light comedy about cannibalism called ‘Yummy.’ My greatest personal accomplishment is to have established a really good relationship with our cats.”

Nathan Fillion (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

 Nathan Fillion played the titled crime-busting mystery author on Castle, which let his comedic charm shine through. Now for his new series The Rookie, premiering October 16 on ABC, Fillion will be busting criminals playing the oldest rookie cop with the LAPD who, of course, at 40-something has a great sense of humor. It is based on a true story.

 What does Fillion at 47-years-old find funny about the situation, on and off camera? Fillion explained, “I think it’s really hard to make people laugh. I think it’s easier to let people laugh at you. The Rookie puts us as an audience in the very safe position of saying, ‘Thank God, I am not him going through that.’ So the comedy we’re going to see is not zingers and joke set-ups, but actually grounded in his real life situation. So we’ll all know that this actually happens in real life, and wouldn’t it suck to be that guy?” 

 Yep, Nathan is playing a guy who gets out of breath after he runs after badguys and has trouble climbing over a fence to catch them. That’s not acting he admitted. “Six pounds of Epsom salt on that particular day of shooting, and bruises up and down my thighs. I’m at the point in my life where, if I can have a stunt guy run down the street for me, these knees will appreciate it. Kneeling is a stunt for me,” Fillion sort of joked.

Jane Fonda (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Jane Fonda gave a glimpse of her funny side at the TCA press tour, on hand to talk about her documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts, premiering September 24 on HBO. When asked why she married guys that were controlling, she quipped, “Well, they were all so brilliant and they could teach me things and take me farther than I had ever gone and… they weren’t boring.”

 Regarding her age Fonda is very comfortable, in fact she noted, “I’m 80 and a half. I’m proud. I never thought I’d live this long, so I feel kind of good about it. So I’m 80 and a half.”

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.