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Rita Moreno© Nicole Weingart/NBC

Rita Moreno talks playing George Lopez’s dead grandma and more in this exclusive interview

A fabulous and inspiring icon

Jovita Trujillo
Jovita Trujillo - Los Angeles
Senior WriterLos Angeles
JANUARY 5, 2023 8:07 PM EST

A new episode of George Lopez’s  Lopez vs Lopez airs on NBC tomorrow January 6, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and it’s a special one. The one and only Rita Moreno is guest-starring, playing Dolores, George’s dead grandmother. HOLA! Had the opportunity to talk to the EGOT winner over the phone, who just turned 91. When we asked how Moreno is doing, she said blissfully, “Fabulous. I’m so good. It’s disgusting.”

Rita Moreno© Nicole Weingart/NBC

The comedy sitcom Lopez vs Lopez follows George and his real-life daughter Mayan Lopez, a once-estranged father and daughter, navigating dysfunction and reconnection. While the topics can be heavy, comedy is a perfect buffer. In the episode, Moreno’s character Dolores is haunting the family home in hopes that he gives her a proper burial.

The Westside Story star said she loved the idea of the episode and said it was Debby Wolfe’s idea to bring her back as the dead grandma. “You know what I love the best is how offended she is at where he buried her,” she said. “It was really fun. And throwing a chancla at him is just divine.”

While the episode touches on themes of spirituality and a touch of Brujeria, Moreno tells us she gave all that stuff away “when she quit the church.” “I don’t believe it, you know, much of that stuff. It’s fun to do it in terms of comedy, but I don’t believe it, and it doesn’t interest me. Not really, but I love the thought of acting like a very angry, grandmother,” she said with a laugh.

Rita Moreno© Nicole Weingart/NBC

Along with the storyline, Moreno praised the cast, like Brice Gonzalez, 6, who plays Mayan’s son, Chance. “Isn’t the little boy adorable?” She said. “His delivery is just absolutely staggering.”

Moreno was a guest star on the George Lopez Show in 2007, playing his mother, Luisa Diaz. Which is the first place she met Mayan, who is now 26. “It’s a wonderful set. Everybody seems to be like a family, which is the best thing you can say for a cast on a comedy show. And, Mayan was just outstandingly sweet and thoughtful. And those huge, big, beautiful brown eyes of hers. She reminded me that I had met her when she was a little girl when I did the original show, and I said, ‘oh my God. And here you are.’ I asked her about this and how it was going. And she said it was, really good. She was enjoying it immensely. But she said, ‘there are times that I’m reminded of some of our difficult periods, and when that happens, it’s not too easy.‘”

Along with her guest star on Lopez vs Lopez, Moreno has been one busy icon. She has two huge movies coming out this year, the first 80 for Brady, which stars Moreno, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Sally Field, on a trip to see their hero, Tom Brady, play in the 2017 Super Bowl. “I’m going to the Palm Springs Film Festival on Thursday, they’ll preview it there, and I think it’s gonna do really well. It’s, adorable. It’s fun. It’s cute, it’s light, and it’s something we desperately need right now,” Moreno told us.

She’s also starring in the upcoming Fast & Furious 10, which comes out on May 19, where she will be playing Vin Diesel’s abuela.

While Moreno is having fun and enjoying her time on screen, she has always been very open about ageism and representation. When we asked if she thinks it’s changed a little bit, Moreno quickly replied, “no.”

“That’s what’s so sad. No. Yeah, I don’t think so. I think they still, particularly, Hispanic actresses are horribly underrepresented in this profession. I’m still complaining about that. Not only underrepresented, but ageism lives because there have to be other parts other than grandmothers when you’re older. I just know there has to be, and it’s not happening. And that just absolutely infuriates me, it gets me, so angry. And it gets me angry because I’m so helpless to do anything about it. And I’m 91. I can’t go out on the road and start yelling and screaming, oh, I suppose I could, but I have better things to do.”

While we still have a long road ahead for representation, Moreno has hope. “It’s just a question of why is it so hard. Why do we have to struggle so much? But, I have to say this too- our community is really, really working at getting itself represented and noticed. And that makes me really happy. We have some fierce women in our tribe.”