Lily Tomlin shares behind-the-scenes stories from the set of her 1980 hit comedy

By Mia McNiece
January 20, 2017 04:22 PM
Chris Polk/FilmMagic

Lily Tomlin can still remember the moment she knew her comedy 9 to 5 with Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton would be a success.

“I remember Dolly came out on set and played the 9 to 5 song for us on her fingernails. I just thought this movie is going to make it because that song will make it,” Tomlin tells PEOPLE.

The 1980 hit comedy followed three working women living out their fantasies of getting even with their sexist boss.

Tomlin, who currently stars opposite Fonda in her Emmy-nominated role on the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, often keeps in touch with her 9 to 5 costars and says the friendship they formed while making the film is one of her fondest memories.

The three women will be reunited at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 29, where Fonda and Parton will present Tomlin with the 53rd SAG Life Achievement Award.

For more on Tomlin, check out this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

“These two girls are still buddies,” Tomlin tells PEOPLE. “Dolly is whatever you see is what you get. She is a darling person, fun and lively. Jane is so innocent and sweet and kind. I just laugh when I am around her.”

Tomlin says it was Fonda who brought the three of them together in 9 to 5 and adds that she changed the tone of film after she saw Tomlin perform at the Ahmanson theater in Los Angeles one night.

“It was going to be a serious movie, but when she saw me she said, ‘It’s got to be a comedy and I have to have Lily in it.’ On the way home, she heard Dolly’s song on the radio and the rest is history.”

The 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

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