Tim Allen is not having a midlife crisis. He's been too busy to deal with such a thing. He seems free and clear of doing anything irrational to make himself feel young and invincible. These days, at 59, the Last Man Standing actor is coasting through life like a well-oiled engine from any one of his (we think over 30) favorite cars that he owns -- no serious body damage and running on a full tank. And, he's smart. Quantum physics smart. Who the heck knew that?
Mr. Home Improvement -- or, as the kids know him: space ranger Buzz Lightyear from the animated film Toy Story -- who still performs his standup comedy act in Vegas, had a very revealing conversation with The Huffington Post to discuss the afore-mentioned quantum physics, how the aging process is going for him, why he became determined to do standup comedy after he got out of prison, how he conquered his alcohol addiction (loved this candid revelation the most) and his interpretation of the meaning of life. (Finally, we find out what Is the meaning of life?)
You do standup in Vegas. How hard is it to do standup after all these years? Do you have to revise your act often and refresh your routines?
I started this whole thing in '89. I did that until I got the gig with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Eisner. They saw me in concert, gave me the show, so my whole Home Improvement was based on that characterization. I did tools and guys. I don't want to do my old act, and it really was a lot of work to get another act. I don't have a hook but I don't really need one. Now I can just be myself -- a much more authentic guy. I really love doing standup. I like being a part of the family of comedians throughout history. It's a very small, select, wonderful group of men and women that enjoy making people laugh.
When AARP magazine called you to be their cover boy, did you stop and think, 'Gosh, I'm over 50, when did that happen?' You look so young.
Thank you for the young part. I guess it really hit me on my 50th birthday because my brother gave me a subscription to that [magazine], and I'm OK with it... some days I'm not OK because I have a very broad range of friends age wise. I have some 80-year-old men that I still call good friends. I watch them turn into old men. You go through these periods of everybody's life where you go through a plateau where you don't change at all, then all of a sudden you turn and you see a man that you've known for years, frail... and then kind of collapse and move on into the death spiral -- for good or bad.
Age didn't really hit me until I'd see pictures of me when I'd do Last Man Standing. I've never been that concerned. I've never been a pretty boy. I do the best I can to clean up well, but when I see myself on TV I'd go, 'Good Lord, if I stoop or bend in the wrong way, my solar plexus looks bigger than it is, then TV puts about 20 pounds on you, and if I bend over the right way, I've got a head of hair, but if you get the right light, I say, 'Gee, Am I losing my hair?' Then, all of a sudden, your neck looks bigger and your skin is a little saggier, and, as my mother or grandmother would day, 'Just wait!" There's no sense complaining about it, we're all waiting in line for a ride we don't want to get on.
Tell me your worst midlife crisis moment. Have you had one yet?
Nah, I'm really not like that. I'm a lucky guy. I'm a very interested person. I've always got something that interests me. I love science and medicine and people and I'll always find something interesting.
I was at Steve Jobs funeral, and that was -- not a midlife -- it was a very emotional day for me because I was able to have whatever you call it -- a nice relationship with him over the years and the way he passed kind of put a real blue on me for awhile. You miss creative people a lot. I don't know how to describe it. It made me sad and it made me think of my age.
The AARP article suggested you have a fresh look on marriage this time around. How so?
I don't want to be too dramatic about it, but the first go-round I was an unsettled man in my heart and soul. I was on the road a lot. I was doing my comedy, and I literally abused every privilege God gave me, whether it be time with my family -- certainly I wasn't there very much, and I drank heavily -- heavily for me, but it got in the way of things. I had baggage from my bad past. I wasn't settled and it showed up in many different ways. I just wasn't present, and now I've been an active sober guy for just 14 years, and it's just a different person I'm dealing with. I engage. The engagement in life is where magic happens. But it takes energy and focus, and I said this time around, I engage more but I realize it's very tiring for me on a spiritual level. I don't know that human beings are built to engage in the world. Only bits and pieces I think. When people say, 'Smell the roses,' and 'Live every day like it's your last,' sounds good. I've never met anybody who does that.
I didn't really know you had a drinking problem until I read about it. I'm not asking this to be a smart ass -- I have someone in my family who's dealing with this problem, and it's breaking my heart in two. So what brought you around? How did you stop drinking?
I hate to say it but I think you get picked. For me, I was done! I was just done! And I didn't know where to turn. A physician friend of mine told me a long time ago, he said you've just got to ask for help. One of the best pieces of advice I've heard recently was, if you want help, it's the first thing you go to in the phone book, and it's free. How can it be simpler? It's a program that's always got its doors open, there are no dues or fees, there is no leader, there's no organization. You've just got to go! You've got to be ready, and if you're not ready, and you don't think it's time, then it's not time. It is a disease of the soul and the mind, and it will tear up the people around you. It's a matter of hitting a personal bottom. And for me, I was done. D.O.N.E. I was tired of my excuses, I was tired of the shame and the guilt... so much energy to manage it. It was unmanageable. But I was done, and I sat there -- maybe not on my knees -- but I said to whatever God that was watching over me at the many times that I felt that it was: 'Help me! I will do what you want.' And phone calls came in, oddly enough, got me to a program... and I'm a guy who doesn't like 'organized' anything but AA is just brilliant to me.
Your book: 'I'm Not Really Here' "focused on midlife, family and quantum physics." What is quantum physics?
It's the science of ... they call it reductionism. That's what I call it. I took my older daughter to Switzerland to see one of those nuclear accelerators to show her that people are involved in a spiritual quest and don't even know it. She doesn't like religion, and I love it so I said: They keep reducing a table to its component parts, its cellulose and then wood gum and all the things that make up wood, and then if you keep going smaller, it's packets of cellulose and carbon put together and if you keep reducing stuff, everything gets down to these very peculiar world of protons, electrons, neutrons, positrons... we used to call them molecules, atoms and electrons in high school...blah, blah, blah...
I think you just spent five minutes talking way over my head. I failed math and science in fourth grade. Let's talk about Last Man Standing. You recently tweeted, 'Save Last Man Standing.' Were you afraid it wasn't going to be picked up? I think it's laugh-out-loud funny.
I've got to be honest. I'm not sure what I do on Twitter. I think what I did was I retweeted. Somebody kept asking: "What if we want this show on the air?' And I had no idea that it was a question. ABC won't make a decision until May. We've done every single thing we were asked of. We got moved twice. And it's still doing great numbers. But it's a business decision as usual. I love this show. I like it so much that it's like our old black Lab Home Improvement died, and when that dog died, I said that I would never get another dog. And when this show started there were some deaths, and some real tragedies in our staff that we had to get over. And time change, cast change, there was all these horrible things I've never dealt with and we still survived. The scripts are getting better and better. It's about real stuff in a family. I said, 'Good Lord I like this.'
I just love these girls [in the cast] to death. They are so talented. It's my dream. I went from three boys that I adore to these three girls... four actually because the original girl, Alex, (Alexandra Krosney) I still think about quite a bit.
Is she the actress who was replaced?
Awww, is that a tough decision to make?
It wasn't mine. It came from outside. I found out literally 25 minutes before she did. And I called her. I think she was finding out when I called her. I don't get involved in casting. I do a lot of other things, but that is not one thing that I do.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who was your son on Home Improvement and came back in a guest role on LMS, recently said that he's not sorry he walked away from fame. Is that a hard thing to do in general? Could you do that?
I don't know. I'm kind of a center-of-attention guy. Jonathan's not like that. He really wasn't comfortable with that. He came back on and was so fun to be with. He did real well not knowing where he fit in. He just killed it. It was so much fun working with him. I just adore that kid.
I read that you got your calling for comedy in prison. How did that happen?
I just was a lazy good for nothing. Raised well, great parents. My father died. I got a new stepfather, he was a great guy. I just was a f**kup. I relate to entitlement. I wanted a government job. I wanted to be taken care of. I deserved it. Why do rich people make more money? They should be taxed more. I was really into that. That's where I grew up. My parents weren't like that but I wanted to f**k around. I didn't want to work hard. I grew up near a very fancy neighborhood and I thought it was weird that people had more money than me. I was just as important as them, why don't they just give me some of their money? I grew up feeling entitled, and that got me lazy and opportunistic. And really nobody's fault but my own. I need hard lessons. And I got into prisons, and I do not belong here. Well, it's too bad. It's like saying you don't belong in an AA meeting. It's a little late at that point. You're at an AA meeting. You're in prison, you idiot. You got yourself here. Nobody's to blame, and it was the first time I took responsibility. I worked hard to study and when I got out... actually before I went in, I went up on stage, and I just dedicated myself with that. I actually worked six months, got my act together and I was called and my bond was revoked and I went to prison. But I kept all the contacts. It was a life changer, I'll tell you that.
You must be pinching yourself that you got to do the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movies.
That to me is a pleasure watching that grow up. From infancy to idea to the first thing with Michael Eisner who looked at that and all of us said, 'What is this thing?' Because it was the first computer animated movie of that size, and who knows? Thank God we stuck with it because it was just a wonderful story.
Your mom is in her 80s. What's the best advice she's given you as an adult and do you listen to your mom?
Of course I listen to her. You know most of it is personal stuff that I can't get into, but she's been really good about being authentic. There's no sense in being guilty or shameful over behavior that's you. That's who you are. If you can't change it, accept it.
You're going to be the big 6-0 on June 13th. I bet when you were 10 you thought people who were 60 sat around on deck chairs with blankets over their laps.
Oh, God, you're singing to the choir.
Last question. What is the meaning of life Mr. Quantum Physics guy?
Leave it better than you found it. That's all that He asks.
The actress told Huff/Post50 that with age has come more clarity and focus -- attributes she said she didn't necessarily have in her 20s and 30s. "I think it gets more difficult as you get older because you're facing the end and endings are ... unbearable. Our lives are basically about facing that tragedy. And I think the sooner we face that we're going to die, the easier it is to appreciate the moments in life... When we realize that our lives will end, we take less for granted. That is what I've learned from loss. The whole thing is a fantastic mystery so all we can do is appreciate each moment."
When it comes to aging and beauty, Sarandon takes an admirable "to-each-their-own" mentality, telling The Independent she would never weigh-in on what people do to make themselves happy. Her best advice? Sarandon has said: "The only thing I'd say is that learning how to forgive yourself for not being perfect is probably a really positive step."
The legendary crooner has a straightforward, make-no-apologies take on age. "That number doesn't mean a thing," she told Oprah in 2008. "It just doesn't."
"I think you have to enjoy getting older. That's the most important factor. If you sit around and think, 'Well, at 21, I was doing this,' or 'at 31' -- or what have you ..." Eastwood told CBS news back in 1997. "A lot of people maybe do their best work when they're 40 and then tail off. But I think that's a mental attitude. I've done my best work, I think, now," he said.
Modesty and a healthy dose of humor are keys to Mirren aging so gracefully. When a gym recently gave her Body of the Year, she told the women of The View that she just sucked in her stomach. "It was a beautiful thing that these fitness people did, I have to say," she said. "I think it was recognition of the fact that you don't have to be perfect."
The cancer survivor told Health.com that she is enjoying the aging process: "I definitely am embracing aging. When you shoot your face with Botox and stuff, you rob yourself of your ability to have youthful expressions, and that's why sometimes people look a lot older."
In addition to maintaining a healthy love life with his wife Trudie Styler, the musician throws himself into yoga and embraces a positive outlook on life, telling USA Today: "When you reach a certain age, you realize that life is finite. You can be depressed by that, or you can say, 'I'm going to appreciate every minute to its maximum potential.'"
"I consider 50 to be young. People are living so much longer, and besides, I don't think I look 50. I take really great care of myself," the actress told BlackBook magazine. Which is not to say Cattrall's afraid of her wrinkles. According to BlackBook,when the actress was asked if she wanted to have some photos heavily retouched she said, "F*** it. Leave it all in."
When it comes to aging well, the stunning supermodel embraces kindness in its many forms. "For me, skin care rituals are a form of meditation -- they keep me balanced. I am kind to my skin. I remove my makeup as soon as I get home and I apply moisturizer," she told O, The Oprah Magazine. "But just as important as being kind to my skin is being kind to younger women," she continued. "Kindness is a lovely quality to nurture as you get older. It makes you feel good about yourself."
Often known as the great actress, Streep has embraced her age -- and recently being a rom-com leading lady -- with admirable glee. "I'm 60, and I'm playing the romantic lead! Bette Davis is rolling over in her grave!" she joked with Vanity Fair in 2009.
Julianne Moore is a natural beauty, and plans to remain one. When asked about Botox, Moore told Allure magazine that she, herself, is not a fan. "I hate to condemn people for doing it, but I don't believe it makes people look better. I think it just makes them look like they had something done to their face," she told the magazine. "When you look at somebody who's had their face altered in some way, it just looks weird."
The actor has been refreshingly candid about both his accomplishments and his struggles as he ages. When Reader's Digest asked him what one thing he'd change about himself, he answered: "My weight! Mind, body and spirit. It's a discipline, and the body has been lagging. Mind's really good right now. Spirit is strong, but body's been lagging. And the body helps the mind. I feel better today having worked out."
Pfeiffer is measured, but honest about how growing older makes her feel. "Honestly, there's certainly a mourning that takes place," told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. "I mourn the young girl, but I think that what replaces that is a kind of a liberation, sort of letting go of having to hold on to that. Everyone knows you're 50. So you don't have to worry about not trying to look 50."
"This great fear of laugh lines and wrinkles and getting old is really unnatural. It happens to the best of us -- what are we going to do? It's a matter of whether you want to go to war with that and have surgery," the actress told iVillage UK. "Ultimately it's a slippery slope. I think you wind up looking like a thing rather than a younger version of yourself. I think you have to make peace with what you have and keep it all in order," she continued.
After being dropped as James Bond because, according to some reports, he was "too old" for the role, the actor had a positive take on things -- embracing the unknown with gusto. "Oh, it turned out very lucky," he told Parade. "Within the space of the punch and the pain of being passed over or rejected or the bottom of your world falling out, within that same breath came this liberation of, 'I'm free. I can do anything I want.' It's up to me to have the guts to make the next stage of my career as interesting and as exciting and unexpected as possible."
"Actors' faces have to move," Weaver once told ABC, weighing in on cosmetic surgery. "It's a personal choice. It depends on what you want. Yes, we probably want to see perfect people, too, but we also want to see people who look like us. It's just about skin care to me and maybe exercise." And her laugh lines? "I've earned them," Weaver said.
AARP magazine put The Boss on its cover when he turned 60 a few years back, because the editors believed he exemplified aging well. "He's one of these crop of 50-plus and 60-plus celebrities who are busier than ever in their older years and doing some of their best work," editor Nancy Perry Graham told The New York Times. "The message with Bruce Springsteen is that 60 rocks."
According to The Telegraph, the beauty loves her changing beauty, believing it reflects a rich life. "Our wrinkles are our medals of the passage of life," she said. "They are what we have been through and who we want to be."
The British actress has said that she, personally, is all about aging naturally. "I'm not fiddling about with myself," she told The Telegraph. "We're in this awful youth-driven thing now where everybody needs to look 30 at 60."
The actress has been open about embracing her age-related changes, famously posing for a magazine shoot sans clothes and sans Photoshop. But she's equally candid about how building self-confidence is a gradual process -- one that's gotten easier as she has aged. "I feel much more authentic," she once told More magazine. "I'm not saying I'm a spiritually perfect person. I'm flawed and contradictory and fraught in many areas. But I'm better. I'm growing, and that's all I really want.
"In interviews, the first question I get in America is always: 'What do you do to stay young?'" Rossellini told O, The Oprah Magazine. "I do nothing. I don't think aging is a problem ... I'm so surprised that the emphasis on aging here is on physical decay, when aging brings such incredible freedom. Now what I want most is laughs. I don't want to hurt anybody by laughing -- there is no meanness to it. I just want to laugh."
Lane told Glamour magazine that aging has given her welcome perspective. "I wouldn't go back to being 20. Because here's the thing ... there is something wonderful about coming to terms with time -- that it is finite," she said. "You want to have as much joy in your life as possible, and you take responsibility for your own joy."
"I do yoga every morning, then I run for half an hour and take a sauna," the actor told AARP magazine of his healthy-aging routine. "And I eat properly. I drink a lot of white tea -- it's a very powerful antioxidant.
Though people look to her as one of the top models of aging well, the actress said she's never given it much thought. "I never thought about age much," Betty told AARP magazine. "I learned that at my mother's knee. Age was not important. It was where your head was."
The writer-director of The Kids Are All Right said she cast Bening in part because she wanted someone who was real and who would not shy away from showing her age on screen. "We never had a wrinkle conversation," she told The Wrap. "I just said, 'I want the make-up to be super-modest,' and that was the end of it."
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