The film puts her at the center of another scenario by novelist Terry McMillan (Goldberg was in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, you may recall) and reunites her with Ving Rhames, who played her husband in the excellent film Long Walk Home. Mehki Phifer, Kimberly Elise, Tichina Arnold and Anika Noni Rose are on board as her son and daughters, each of whom has a sorely messed-up life. They don't get along with each other either.
Into this mix comes a life-threatening ailment for Goldberg's grouchy matriarch character, Viola - and it changes everything. At least, it changes everything for Viola. As Goldberg herself tells us, Viola is "a bit of an ass. She has been absent from her own self. Like 98 percent of the people you meet in the world, she's just trying to get through her life. And then she realizes, 'Oh sh--, I'd better get on top of this. I'm dying.'"
Viola doesn't share her bad news with the fractious family, Goldberg explains. "That's the thing that I think is great about this piece. It's a cautionary tale: you never know what tomorrow will bring. Get your act together."
Goldberg certainly has hers together. During an afternoon's chat, she takes the conversation from philosophical peaks to the depths of a profoundly raunchy observation involving bodily changes as one ages, Mount Kilamanjaro and bandleader Paul Shaffer. (Trust us, it's wild. Just think of Goldberg with that Cheshire Cat/Buddha knowing smile, nodding sagely and intoning, "You know what I'm talking about.")
She says she can relate to her character because they are both getting older, "But I'm having much more fun than she is."
Goldberg is a new great-grandmother at 58 - granddaughter Amarah Dean gave birth to a girl, Charlie Rose, on March 15. How does it feel?
"It's kind of a little freaky, but I have a 25-year-old granddaughter. You know, my daughter was very young when she had her daughter, so it's sort of balancing out. But it's kind of funny. I was a grandmother from the age of 33. When you look at it that way, it makes sense."
As for whether it's fun to have a tiny one around again, she doesn't sound entranced. "Eyyeahh," she says slowly. "I don' t know about that. I'm going to go visit with them next week and meet this new baby. She looks cool."
We'll soon be seeing more of Goldberg, the actress, than has been seen in quite awhile. In addition to A Day Late and a Dollar Short, there's her role in the Aug. 8 Paramount release Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the big-screen drama Big Stone Gap, due later this year. She has film roles in the works for James Franco and Chris Rock, was to shoot a stint on Glee and, in August, will begin production on a film called The Christmas Pearl, in which she'll play a ghost. She also directed an HBO documentary on Jackie "Moms" Mabley that comes out on DVD and digital streaming May 20.
"What's old is new," she observes. "I guess fans who have grown up and become directors go, 'Hey, I'd like to do something with you.' People remember that they want you, and that's a great thing. And they remember what you can do, and that's a great thing," she adds happily.
However, the new flurry of work is also due to her own efforts. "You have to put it out there," she says. "I love being an actor. It's the only thing I ever wanted to do."
Photo credit: Lifetime
Also of Interest
- After Barbara Walters Signs off May 16, What Next?
- 10 Must-Have Wardrobe Items for Women at 50+
- Fight fraud and ID theft with the AARP Fraud Watch Network.
- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more