Revealed on Broadway in 1960, Jane Fonda was also able to make a name for herself in the cinema at that time, in particular thanks to films like Cat ballou Where Barefoot in the Park. In this adaptation of the play by Neil Simon, she gives the answer to Robert Redford, a playing partner whom she will find a few times during her career. In 1968, her husband Roger Vadim made him a sex symbol thanks to Barbarella, a kitsch cinema summit. It was also during this period that the actress lived in France and that she had the opportunity to master the language of Molière, which she still speaks very well today. However, her acting career really took off at the end of this decade, when Sydney Pollack offered her the lead role of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (We finish horses well). Therefore, the roles she chooses are often in phase with her social activism.
Very involved in the pacifist movements by speaking out loud and clear against the Vietnam War, Jane Fonda has sown controversy, in particular because of a famous photo where we see her sitting on a North Vietnamese cannon, wearing a helmet military. Her activism was then sharply denounced by the political class, who practically saw her as a traitor to the nation. Even today, the actress is hated in some ultra-conservative circles. She will later assert her regret about this cliché, but will reiterate the relevance of her action. At that time, she also spoke in all the forums that were offered to her. In 1974, she also came to Montreal to participate in a conference on the Vietnam War, at the invitation of the University of Quebec in Montreal.
Two Oscars in seven years
Mentioned at the Oscars seven times during her career, Jane Fonda received her first golden statuette in 1972, thanks to her performance in Klute. In this Alan J. Pakula thriller, the actress slips into the shoes of a woman who, in the mind of a private investigator (Donald Sutherland), is the only lead the latter can follow to lead his investigating the disappearance of a man. We expected a fiery speech at the ceremony, but the actress preferred to be discreet on the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. “There is a lot to say, but I won’t say it tonight! She said. Seven years later, she was consecrated again, this time thanks to Coming Home (The return), a film in which she plays the role of a volunteer in a Vietnam War veterans hospital. The latter finds there a love of youth (Jon Voight), who became paraplegic after being wounded in combat. Jane Fonda returned to the stage in 1982 to pick up a statuette in the name of her father, Henry, crowned best actor thanks to On Golden Pond, a film that sealed their reconciliation after several years of tension.
The queen of exercise videos!
In the early 1980s, Jane Fonda released her first exercise video. Then married to politician Tom Hayden, whose activist action in 1968 is mentioned in The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Chicago Seven), by Aaron Sorkin, the actress launches Jane Fonda’s Workout, which is a huge success on videocassette. She made 21 more over the next 13 years. Even if she adds a few notable roles to her record over the course of this decade (Nine to Five, Agnes of God, The Morning After), Jane Fonda decided to retire from acting in 1991, the year she married Ted Turner, media mogul and founder of the 24-hour news channel CNN. She reconsiders her decision in 2005, the year in which she also published her autobiography, My Life So Far (My life).
Also on the small screen
Since her return, Jane Fonda has often been sought out in the cinema for supporting roles. We have also seen her in international films like And if we all lived together (Stéphane Robelin) and Youth (Paolo Sorrentino). However, she had the opportunity to find Robert Redford, her partner of Barefoot in the Park and of The Electric Horseman, in Our Souls at Night, a film in which two mature beings try to overcome their loneliness. The last decade also marks the arrival of Jane Fonda on television. The Newsroom, a series by Aaron Sorkin, is his first experience in this area. For six years, she has co-starred, with Lily Tomlin, of Grace and Frankie, sitcom produced and broadcast by Netflix.
Militant one day, always militant!
In the fall of 2019, Jane Fonda made headlines by demonstrating in Washington every Friday to protest politicians’ stagnation in the face of the dangers of climate change. Dressed in her red coat, always accompanied by Allied stars, the octogenarian settled down in the entrance hall of an administrative building of the Congress, where the right to demonstrate is prohibited, waiting for the agents, now accustomed, to intervene and take him to the police station. The actress has been arrested several times. “I was inspired by Greta Thunberg and young striking students from around the world,” she then declared to Agence France-Presse, claiming the “privilege” given by her notoriety to remind “that we are facing to a crisis that could determine whether our children and grandchildren will have a future ”.
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78th Golden Globe Awards | Jane Fonda in six steps