Tim Allen In AARP

As a comedian best known for playing the everyman, Tim Allen is surprisingly introspective. In an exclusive interview with AARP The Magazine, the Golden Globe® winner discusses his fresh outlook on marriage and family, as well as his career successes. Allen also touches on his sobriety, losing his father at a young age, and other personal struggles from which his accessible brand of comedy was born. Allen is currently headlining a stand-up act at The Venetian in Las Vegas through the beginning of November.

On 14 years of sobriety: 

“Seeing the worst parts of my behavior helped me to understand the better parts. So while I’m still more anxious than I want to be most of the time, I’m far less anxious than I used to be.”

“I was doing comedy clubs, concerts, movies and TV, and didn’t ever realize how fatigued I was or how much I was missing in my life.”

On his thoughtful new presence:

“Oh, please, don’t say sensitive. It will kill my image.”

On his home life: 

“I used to live an isolated existence, even in relationships, but now my family knows me for who I really am. Mostly, that’s a good thing.”

On his new passion for motorcycles:

“I always wondered about those high-speed turns where the bike lays down almost on its side. I’m really close to achieving that.”

On really being present in one’s life: 

“I suggest it to everybody to engage as much as you can in life. Most human beings are disengaged all day, every day. You’re doing one thing but you’re thinking about your dry cleaning or ‘I’ve got this on Friday.’ It takes energy. God knows I’m not the Dalai Llama, but if you’re not careful and don’t find your center point, you end up sorta drifting through life sideways.”

“Yesterday I was swimming with my 3 year-old, and I looked up and thought, ‘How wonderful this world is.’ We’re always searching for something, but it’s going to be all right. Stop fretting so much.”

On his friendship with Steve Jobs: 

“I tried to act like hanging out with Steve was not a big deal, but it was a tremendously big deal. Your impulse is to kiss up to him or go, ‘Hey, I’m very smart, too.’ But soon enough, our personalities came through, and I started asking him legitimate questions. All the way through our relationship he would say, ‘No one’s ever asked me that.’”

“When Steve got sick, I sent a gift basket. It was all stuff I knew he would never eat, because he ate only healthy food. I sent him cold cuts and soda pops. I also sent all these magazines about PCs.”

Julie Bowen on Allen’s charm:

“Tim’s the everyman that men wish they were, which is why he’s so popular. He’s funny, charming and attractive without being too much of any of those things. Tim makes you think, ‘I could be that guy.’”

On losing his father at age 11:

“It changed everything forever.”

“Part of me still doesn’t trust that things are going to work out all right. I knew my father was dead, but I was never satisfied with why he was dead. I wanted answers that minute from God. ‘Do you think this is funny? Do you think this is necessary?’ And I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with my creator ever since.”

On his early prison term: 

“It finally dawned on me in prison that I worked harder being a crook than I ever worked legitimately. I was doing 12-hour days running from the police and screwing up lives. Once I got that I could make money doing something legal, I turned it around.”

John Pasquin, director on Home Improvement and Last Man Standing, about Allen’s success:

“Comedy is often drawn from anger, and I think that’s true in Tim’s case. He’s able to joke about what really ticks him off.”

On evolving with age:

“What I wanted more than anything was clarity, and I still do. That’s what I appreciate about spending time with older people. My wife and I have befriended couples in their 70s, 80s and 90s, and they’re so clear about who they are. They teach us humility and gentleness. Maybe their bodies don’t work the way they once did, but they’re right there. That’s how I want to be as I get older.”

“You don’t want the end to come and say, ‘I wished I’d loved more, I wish I smelled more roses.’ You have to do that now.”