A dose of Hollywood royalty, Jane Seymour Fonda, officially in Sydney for a speaking tour and I was on the spot for a brief but deep conversation on the red carpet highlighting hit new film, Book Club.
Glowing at 80 years of age, the two-time Oscar winner and former aerobics guru has always advocated good causes and fights for liberation. A stand against the Vietnam War trading sex appeal for activism famously labelled her Hanoi Jane. And her major backing for equality pay for females in films and a grand passion for the LBQTQ community has made her a gay icon – something she told me she’s so happy that has unexpectedly happened.
Daughter of silver screen legend Henry Fonda and brother to notorious Peter Fonda, it was a privilege to be in her presence talking such things as Book Club, her fifteen years away from acting to running for president….not!
Assuming you don’t audition anymore, how did the Book Club role come your way?
JF – It was written with Diane Keaton and I in mind. We said yes when offered, then Candy Bergen and Mary Steenburgen came on board.
Where does being a grandmother rank with all your other roles?
JF – It’s great being a grandmother in the film (smiling), it makes me happy. I have two grandchildren myself, they live in Vermont while I reside in California.
Is it a return to acting, for good, now?
JF – Listen I’m 80, if I retired now, I’ll never come back. I did something that just never happens – I left the acting business at age 62 for fifteen years and actually came back creating an entirely new career. I got lucky because parts I wanted to do of celebrating maturity came along.
Activism has always been important.
JF – I am still an activist, yes.
How do your friends inspire you?
JF – They are all smarter, deeper and braver than I am. This makes me….strive to be better and stronger.
Was it a nice time with your lovely co-stars on set?
JF – I became very close friends with all of them, all have something special. Candice Bergen…I’ve known since she was seventeen, just never very well. One of the things I admire so much is that by her own admission, she has gained a lot of weight. But she uses it and is still beautiful in spite of it. I find her probably the funniest of all of us in the film. I appreciate that about her defying how people assume one is supposed to look, being comfortable in her body image. Diane Keaton (is) one of the most unusual people I have ever met, quite different while perfect.
What has been the biggest lesson a relationship has taught you?
JF – Do not go into a relationship unless you feel seen, safe and celebrated (laughs). I cannot say I have ever run into a relationship like that. To go back in time and give advice to a young Jane, I would say wait until those three things are alive.
Have you ever thought of running for President, I love all your work?
JF – (A few seconds pause, looks at me smiling) I appreciate where that question comes from Shane.
Where do you keep your Oscars?
JF – Proudly on my bookshelf.
Working with Lily Tomlin on Grace and Frankie must be divine.
JF – Oh yes, we start again in January. I admire her so much, it’s working with a genius. There are so many people inside of her. She watches the work and how she is in life is parallel to the work, wonderful Lily.
JF – Team Lily, I feel so lucky being part of Team Lily. Thank you.
BOOK CLUB (Rated M – 104 min)
IN CINEMAS NOW
Shane A. Bassett