Laughter is the Best Medicine

In conversation with… Jane Fonda | BFI Comedy Genius

– Welcome everybody. I think it’s fair to say there’s never been an
acting star like Jane Fonda. She began her career in the
end days of old Hollywood, herself, the child of Henry Fonda but has been one of the brightest flames of the new kind of filmmaking and acting that has transformed cinema. She won many awards including two Oscars out of seven nominations
for her screen performances, tackling everything from
comedies to political conspiracy, taking inspiration from the real events of the world around her, whether it was the treatment
of Vietnam War vets or enduring discrimination
against women in the workplace. But miss Fonda has also
been an international political activist for much of her life, embracing the campaigns for civil rights, for worker rights, most
famously and controversially, to stop the American War in Vietnam. She’s going back to be
campaigning ahead of the midterms. She was targeted by the FBI and the White House for
illegal surveillance, she’s confronted hate campaigns, she’s shown a fearlessness of
being that dangerous thing, a successful woman with
political opinions. (audience laughing) She’s a multilingual
thinker who lived in France and studies the complex politics of 1968. She’s been a hugely
successful businesswoman in her own right,
pioneering the home video, best-selling Jane Fonda’s
workout and that whole industry. And crucially, she’s been honest about exploitative relationships with men, about eating disorders, about
her anxieties and experiences, about parenting under her own parents and through all these decades, she’s kept making exciting, entertaining, provocative film and television. A new documentary looks
at her life in five acts but here at the BFI,
we’re going to attempt it in six clips and a conversation. Please welcome our first lady
of film, Miss Jane Fonda. (audience applauding) – I couldn’t hear what you said but I think it made me feel tired. (attendees laughing) – You’re still busy. We have about an hour
and sort of 10 minutes, so we’re gonna try and get
some questions in at the end. So keep some good questions. Can I ask when you started out, what kind of a Hollywood was it, that you were getting your first parts in? – It was a Hollywood where
the major studios ruled. The big movie moguls like David Cohen and Jack Warner and you know, the people who ran the big
studios from the beginning were still in place,
and I was under contract to Warner Brothers and then to Columbia. I was a contract player,
and that was that. – Well early on, as well as
traditional kind of girlfriend parts like Tall Story
with Anthony Perkins. You showed remarkable power in Edward Dmytryk’s Walk on the Wild Side. Laurence Harvey, strangely cast, is the innocent southerner trying to find his lost
love in New Orleans. Sorry, slight spoilers,
she’s in a bordello run by Barbara Stanwyck
and you’re the wild runaway from a children’s home, trying to steal and cheat your way, and you
absolutely steal the film. This is 1962, here you are
planning a bit of theft from the kind lady who runs a diner. (audience applauding) It’s a remarkable and strange film and you absolutely sparkle in it. – I do? – How did you throw yourself into a role like that, so young? – I wasn’t that young. (audience laughing) – How old were you? – I don’t remember.
– 62. – I think I was about, maybe
23, something like that. Seems young, yeah. How did I throw myself into it? I’d made one movie before
which was Tall Story and it was a terrible experience and I hated playing
the nice girl next door and so I got a chance to play a hooker (audience laughing) and so I really wanted
to sink my teeth into it and besides Barbara
Stanwyck was in the movie, so I didn’t wanna disappoint her. – You didn’t disappoint her. – No. – And was this already the influence of the Strasberg method acting? – I don’t know. (audience laughing) – Because you did take lessons. – I’ve studied with Lee
Strasberg for a while, yeah. It was partly, I guess, the techniques that I learned with Lee Strasberg, yeah. – And you’ve mentioned how
you hated that experience in Tall Story as director Joshua Logan said something absolutely shocking to you about your
appearance, do you remember? – Well he told me that my face was so fat that I should have my
teeth taken out back here. – And your jaw broken? – And my jaw broken, yeah.
– And reset. – We were at odds. (audience laughing) Didn’t exactly make a girl feel good, you know what I mean?
(audience laughing) – And I just think, you also
have that additional burden of knowing that your
father was a famous actor. So when you go off into
taking the next role, do you remember how far
you were trying to choose what to take and what not to take? – I was grateful anybody offered me a job and actually, my first movie
experience was so distasteful that I determined that I never
would be in Hollywood again, I would just do theater. But then I was under
contract to Josh Logan and he tried to sell me to Ray Stark and I didn’t wanna be sold and so I had to work
to buy back my contract and that was that, when I
thought, well, that’s worth doing, both to get money to buy myself freedom but also to play that kind
of a character was fun. – And you weren’t afraid of
playing a character like that? – Afraid? No, those are the fun
characters to play, no. – Not everyone felt that
way at the time, did they? And you had this run of really warm-hearted
comedies in the mid-60s. There’s Sunday in New York. There’s Cat Ballou, the
kind of wonderful western. – That was a good one. – Tell me about the joy of making that, because it does look like it was fun. – Well it was, it was fun. It was done very quickly
with almost no money. Lee Marvin leaned over to
me once during rehearsal and said, the only reason we’re in there is because we’re under
contract at Columbia and they can pay us nothing. (audience laughing) And literally, we didn’t do a second take unless the camera broke
or something like that. (audience laughing) It was very quickly shot. In fact, my tooth got knocked out. I had no tooth for a while
and I still had to go to work they just shot me from
the side or from behind. (audience laughing) I mean it was, but, Lee Marvin was a fantastic person. I really, really liked him. He was extremely drunk all the time. (audience laughing) I mean a lot, but he was great. Because the movie was so low-budget, they made us work very long hours and I mean, like every
day, very long hours. And he took me aside one day
and he said, listen Jane, we’re the stars of this movie,
if we let them do this to us, it’s the working guys that suffer, and they were all guys
on the crew at the time, you know, we have to stand up
to them because they can’t. So he taught me solidarity,
worker solidarity. It was great. He was a progressive
guy, a good thinking guy. – Can I ask what knocked your tooth out? Or who? (audience laughing) – Well, I’d had a few drinks
and I lived at the beach and there was a glass door
and I thought it was open. (audience laughing) – That old story. There’s a real slapstick art you have. I think people don’t always realise until they see your comedies
but you have a natural ability with slapstick and I’m thinking as well, of Barefoot in the Park with Robert Redford in–
– Well, that’s Neil Simon. – But that’s not just the
writing, it’s your performance. And we should say, for
those who haven’t seen it, you’re the kind of upbeat
wife and Robert Redford’s the uptight lawyer who’s frustrated by it. – That’s kinda like it is. (audience laughing) – What has it been like working with him? What was it like on that first one? – Well, I did four movies with him. And the first three, I was in love with. I was always married but I was in love with
him each time, you know? So that, you know, he was
two hours late every day but I was so gaga that it didn’t matter. And he wouldn’t speak to me sometimes. He’s very moody and so I
would just suffer a lot. (audience laughing) And you know, I always
thought it was my fault. (audience laughing) But a year and a half,
almost two years ago, I made my last movie with him and I realised I’d finally grown up. (audience laughing) (Jane laughing) Because I got really angry
when he was two hours late every day and didn’t know his lines. And when he was in a bad
mood and didn’t talk to me, I knew it had nothing to do
with me, it was his problem. – So you told him when
he was two hours late and he didn’t know his
lines, how did he react? – Not good. (audience laughing) I don’t think we’re gonna
work together again. (audience laughing) Well, he’s too old anyway. (audience laughing and applauding) – One of your most loved,
I think it’s fair to say, cult films came the following year, after Barefoot in the Park, 1968. It was made with your
husband, Roger Vadim. It was based on a French
comic strip heroine, I think people might be able
to guess where this is going, who saves the galaxy, often to do with her
amazing sexual powers. She can even make a blind angel fly again, as we’re about to see. (audience clapping) – I forgot how good-looking he is. – I was gonna say, have you forgotten–
– Yeah he is really cute. – There’s such joyous innocence about the way you play that role as well, which is part of the reason I think it’s so loved.
– That was really good acting. You know why? – Yes, tell us why. – Yes, because see, nobody had ever done this kinda thing without
having strings attached and you know, it was, so
there was a big green screen where they projected the
clouds and everything and then there was a
big pole that stuck out, that screwed into a metal harness that John Philip Law had. He had this tight harness
that had a, you know– – Like a girdle?
– You could put him in the back.
– Yeah. – And I was fitted with a tied harness and I was kinda screwed into him. (audience laughing) And so that when we were in the air, (chuckles) all of our body weight
was pressed up against, in the crotch area, a metal garment and both of us suffered hugely. – I think I actually, when you– – It really hurt. – When you know it and you see the moment you’re taking off, I can see
a slight wince on your face. – Yes, I mean every, oh,
it was really, it was hard. In the beginning, the
first time we did it, ’cause it had never been done before, the next day, we went to see the rushes and we were flying backwards. (everyone laughing) So we have to do it all over. – Oh, God. Barbarella is loved and there’s something I need to tell you I found out today. A friend went to see a screening and a talk after the screening
at the Greenwich Observatory in London and it was a
talk given by an astronomer who said that by the 1980s, the planet science in Barbarella, including that sort of diamond planet, was actually proved to be quite accurate and more accurate than Star Trek. (audience laughing) So actually, they
predicted it better than– – What part was real, I don’t? – I think the idea that planets might be made out of solid minerals rather than just being
bare rock or gas giants. – Oh, I see. – That part, okay.
– I just thought you might like to know. (Jane laughs) You also wrote in your autobiography, that quote, with a little tweaking, Barbarella could have
been a feminist movie and just as sexy. Could you share with us how? – Did I say that? – Yes, you did.
(audience laughing) I’ve got the book, in
case you asked me that. – See, here is this woman
who comes from Earth she’s sent by the president of Earth to the evil planet to
bring back the scientist and she introduces sex, but her sex is touching, taking a pill, and then touching fingertips
and your hair stands on end. If she’s really evolved and she’s coming to
this not-evolved planet, they’re the ones that
would be taking the pill and touching fingertips. She would be the one that would introduce face to face, clitoral, you
know, the the real thing. (audience laughing) You know, not the other way around. – We’re all nodding. – She wouldn’t introduce intimacy, the problem with the planet,
the reason it’s evil, is because they’ve lost the ability for intimacy and she would introduce it. I pitched it to Dino one time, you know, I said, I’m the grandmother, my idea was I got pregnant
by the the blind angel, I laid an egg, (audience laughing) and then there was this montage and the egg hatches and
it was back in the day, it was Angelina Jolie. (attendees laughing) And I teach her how to fly spacecraft and all kinds of things and then she’s the one that gets captured. So I have to bring a whole team of women. I’m the sort of the
elder woman, the grandma, and I bring all these
women and we do introduce. I thought it was a great idea. He didn’t go for it, but. (audience laughing) – We still think it’s a good idea and maybe someone else could– – Well he’s gone and I’m
here, so we could do that. (audience laughing)
– We could totally do this. Can I ask a slightly darker question, which is you have written
about how you tried to please Roger Vadim in making that film and in general, in your
relationship with him, and can I ask, how you
look back at that film, knowing that there was that dark side of your desire to please in your relationship.
– Oh, you know, I spent 10 years with Ted Turner. I’ve learned how to be funny. I didn’t know before then but
I have a sense of humor now. So I can watch the
movie and find it funny. I don’t find it sexy but I
find it charming and funny. – But in terms of that relationship. – I don’t remember the bad stuff. – You don’t?
– No. – You make a big change of
direction after making Barbarella and I think we have a still of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Which is 19– – Well, I came out in 68. Can you imagine making Barbarella in 1968 and living in France, you know where (speaks
in foreign language), I just came from France so
I’m wanting to talk French. – So there’s this amazing
political upheaval. – Oh my lord, all over the world. – And obviously, things changed for you, your whole, you had a kind
of political awakening and you start making
these very dark films, this is a film that set
in the Great Depression, it’s about these dance
marathons where people would dance themselves for
weeks in hope of a prize. And it’s a remarkable dark film, – It’s a fabulous film.
– What was changing for you? – Huh?
– What was changing for you, in your life, that made
you go and make this film. – Well, it’s not why I
went a made the film, I didn’t want to do the film. The script was not very good but Vadim, you know, the novel was very popular. It’s a great existential
novel, very popular in France and he told me, I have to do it. He said, no this is
important, you have to do it. And so I had just had a baby and I went to California with my family and the director, writer whose
name I won’t reveal right now got fired and who gets hired? Sydney Pollack. Sydney Pollack, no one knew
who he was but he was fabulous. I mean he was just such a wonder, I made other films with him,
such a wonderful director. And it was a turning point. I had never made a movie
that was about something, that came out at the right time and had something to say about capitalism, about greed, about the things that were wrong with American society. – And one of the cast in it, I don’t you heard the announcer, he was the actor who
played the the kind of grandfather on the Munsters.
– Keg Gellund? Oh, Al, yeah.
– Yes. He told you stories about his memories of the Depression, didn’t he? – He did. He told me a lot of things. He told me about the
Panthers, the Black Panthers, and how I had to find out about them and get involved and you know, it was a turning point kind of for me. – Another film you made which came out the year after is the
conspiracy thriller Klute. Again, we have a photograph of it. This won you your first Oscar and it’s one of Alan J.
Pakula’s kind of great trilogy of kind of conspiracy thrillers, around that end of the Nixon
area, about surveillance, about secrecy, about cover-up and you play the prostitute Bree, who you created this
week rich backstory for. I think there’s a signed photo with President Kennedy isn’t
there, in your apartment, and there’s a remarkable scene with a John where you fake an orgasm,
while kind of checking your wristwatch over his shoulder. – Don’t we all? (audience laughing) – But those details
weren’t just, you know, you used your imagination,
you had spoken to women who had worked as prostitutes, hadn’t you? – I spent a week before
we started shooting in New York with call girls and madams, very high-class call
girls and prostitutes. And I would spend all day with them, I would go with, when they
would get their cocaine and cut their cocaine
and after-hours clubs with their Johns and the entire time, not one man made a move
on me, didn’t even wink. (audience laughing) I was waiting for me too. I mean why, what’s matter with me. And I realised that I really
wasn’t right for the part, that they could see through me, that I was basically a very
straight, bourgeois young thing. And I went to Alan Pakula and I said, I don’t think I can do this. Let me out of my contract,
and get Faye Dunaway. (audience applauding) (Jane chuckling) She can do it! And he just laughed at me. So I knew I had to do
it and then I remembered that when I was married to Roger Vadim and living in France, there
was a very famous madam, called Madame Claude. And I knew some of her women. That’s a whole other story (audience laughing) but I started thinking about them. I had become friends with
three of them at various times. Every one of them had been
sexually abused as a child and that gave me the
entry into the character. You know, why would a woman
who had a lot going for her and who, there’s a moment
where you see that Bree Daniels is not untalented as an actor. So why would she sell her body? And I knew why then, and I could develop a character around that, yeah. – It was a remarkable
performance, as we say, you won your first Oscar for it. You won your second Oscar
for your performance in Coming Home in 1978,
which is about a young wife who volunteers at a hospital
for wounded veterans while her captain husband
is serving in Vietnam. And we’ll talk a bit about Vietnam and your activism shortly,
but I’m interested in the fact that you were a driving force
behind this film getting made. How did it come about and then– – Well, I wanted to make
a movie about Vietnam. In fact, I wanted to quit Hollywood, because I wasn’t getting interesting parts and I wanted to make movies about things that I was involved with as an activist and there was a, I had a friend, he was a black lawyer
in Detroit, Ken Cockrel, and I had been spending time with him and I told him I wanted to quit Hollywood and he said, no. No, the movement has plenty of organisers, we don’t have movie stars. You not only have to
stay in your profession, but you have to pay more attention to it. You have to be very intentional. You have to create an
even stronger career. So I did, you know, I always
do what the men tell me. So I did, I went back and I decided I was gonna start producing my own movies, starting with a movie about Vietnam, but I know exactly how to do it, and I was at a rally one
day on a college campus, the war was still going
on, with Ron Kovic, who, a movie was made about Ron Kovic called Born on the Fourth of
July, played by Tom Cruise and he was describing how he went, he re-enlisted three
times going to Vietnam. He was a real believer in the war and he was in a wheelchair,
paralyzed from the neck down. And he said to the students, yeah, I may have lost my body
but I’ve gained my mind. Because he had come to realise
that the war was a lie, that they had been tricked. And I thought I could
make a movie about that, and that’s what we did. – I think we should have a look at a clip and it’s from your first
proper conversation with the Jon Voight character,
inspired by Ron Kovic and it’s when you realise,
you’re volunteering at the hospital while
your husband is away, the hospital treating
vets, and you realise that you knew him a little at school. Let’s have a look. (attendees applauding) It’s a beautiful and moving film. – Yes, Hal Ashby directed it. He was a brilliant guy. – And there’s two aspects
that I wanted to talk about. One is the way that it really brought home how these soldiers were neglected. There are those scenes
where you’re walking through the hospital and volunteering and you’re seeing it, in a
sense, for the first time. But the other aspect is also the kind of, you know, when you’re
trying to talk to the wives about getting the newspaper
to talk a bit about them and they don’t want to, that sense of, you’re always kind of an
activist in these films. It feels like you were
definitely conscious of the message you wanted
to convey to an audience. – Well, I’d spent three
years working with veterans from Vietnam and active duty servicemen, and I had interviewed many of their wives. So I kind of knew what it was like and what the issues were for the wives. And I wanted to start off playing a woman who was a believer in the war and this all came as a big surprise to her when she began to learn through
the Jon Voight character, you know, what what was really happening. And so in the movie, my
character goes through the kind of transformations
that we all went through. You know, she stopped
straightening her hair, she started being a
different kinda person, which caused a lot of complications when her husband came back. Anyway, it was really, Hal Ashby was an interesting director. I don’t know if he really
liked people very much. He didn’t talk to us. He didn’t give us very much direction but he would like shoot 40
takes and print them all. (laughs) And that was in the days of film. So it was really expensive and
I was one of the producers. (audience laughing) And then because he had started
off, you see, as an editor, and so he thought like an editor and he would take all these 50s, 60s takes and he would go into his editing room and like a sculptor, he
would create the movie. He created the characters out of his own, what he saw, way better than what John and I actually did, I think. And then put this music onto it. And it ended up working. It was very complicated to get done. – There’s incredible
intimacy in this film. In some of it we see, just
there with the close-ups on faces, some of it is, there
is a very famous sex scene which is about real
intimacy, about pleasuring and it’s fascinating to see that as an important part of this picture. – Yeah it was, and Hal Ashby and I had a big fight about that. I wanted, along with the
issues for the veterans that were being raised in the movie, I wanted to raise a gender issue. I’ll be perfectly blunt about this, okay. Here was my husband who
had full use of his body but he was that kind of rigid man, you know, who believed in the war and who really couldn’t loosen up and he did not know how
to please me as a woman. And here was this other
man, Jon Voight’s character, who couldn’t move and I thought, well, if this man, because
of what he has become, is able to satisfy Sally,
wouldn’t that be saying something interesting about masculinity? And Hal Ashby wasn’t so
crazy about that idea. (audience laughing) but I thought yeah, but I
mean, the guy can’t move. (chuckles) Well, there were a lot of real paraplegics that were around us as
extras when we were shooting and I remember there was
this one really cute guy in a wheelchair and an adorable girlfriend and you know, she’s
like, she’d flop him over and sit on his back and
you could tell by the way they were touched each
other and everything, that they were intimates. So I asked her. I said, do you guys have sex? And she told me the story. She said, well, you never
know when it’s gonna happen, she specifically said,
one time we were driving past a field of daisies
and (tongue clicking). (audience laughing) And you know, when that happened, it would last for four hours. (audience laughing) (coughs) (audience laughing) The problem was that Hal
Ashby heard the story and so he wanted one of
those four-hour things to be going on and I
didn’t want that to be, I wanted it to be oral sex. And we had a big fight about it and it kind of, it’s ambiguous now. It’s a really sexy scene
but you don’t quite know– – But you do.
– You do. – He’s definitely pleasuring you. It’s fine.
– Yeah, yeah, okay. – It’s a wonderful scene. Can I take this point to then
reflect slightly backwards over the years, about the whole experience you had as an activist who campaigned to end the war in Vietnam. You were demonised, as
they call Hanoi Jane after going to North
Vietnam during the war. And again, you wrote
in your autobiography, you said, some veterans, to them you had, Barbarella had become their enemy. There were politicians who wanted to put you
on trial for treason. It can be hard to imagine that vitriol. How do you look back on
that whole experience now? – Oh, with a lot of sadness still, because what it meant was that
there were a lot of people who had been in Vietnam
and some who hadn’t, who never did understand
the truth about the war. They didn’t read The Pentagon Papers, so they don’t know that a whole series of administrations, Democrat
and Republican, simply lied. They knew, their advisers
knew we couldn’t win and they kept going because, well, (clears throat) what Lyndon Johnson
said to his biographer, if I pull out, that if I pull
the troops out of Vietnam, Bobby Kennedy, who was
running against him, will call me an unmanly man. And, you know, he was afraid of premature evacuation, I think, in this. (audience laughing) But I mean, how many men died because our presidents were
afraid of looking weak. It’s disgusting, it’s
awful and looking back and even now, those who
still don’t understand, it’s sad because, you know,
I became a lightning rod and I understand why that happened. You have to get mad at somebody and they can’t get mad at the government. So I’m the one. (audience clapping) (faint speaking) But, that said, there
are a lot of veterans who do understand– – Yes.
– And who have come to the realisation. – Well, I’m fascinated
that so much of your work was spent going out and meeting them and spending time with them,
talking to them directly and confronting the very people who you might have been most afraid of. That seems to be an attitude that you’ve always adopted, to confront that fear.
– Well, I talk to people now who voted for Trump. I mean, we’re not gonna solve this if we don’t talk to each other, right? We have to get out of
our bubbles but yeah, I was in Waterbury, Connecticut, making a film with Robert De Niro and I was burned in effigy. – This was during Stanley & Iris? – Stanley & Iris, and so, I asked somebody to arrange a meeting with the
Vietnam veterans in Waterbury and we went into the basement of a church. There were about 40 of ’em. And I’ll never forget, I
walked in and I was by myself and I think that took them,
they thought I was gonna come in with bodyguards or something like that. And it was just me and I’m sort of petite. So they were surprised and sort of taken off-guard,
and we sat in a circle and I went first, I said
let’s just go around and let’s tell our stories. And I told them why I went
and because of the dykes, I wanted to stop the bombing of the dykes, and I cried and I apologised and then they all talked
and when it was over, it was about three or four
hours of us doing this. Somebody came and said, you
know, the press found out about this and they’re waiting outside. What should we do? And I asked the guys, I
said what should we do? We can go out the back door
or what do you wanna do? And they said, ask ’em in. So the press came in and they were expect, I don’t know they were expecting but here, we were kind
of hugging each other. We had been through something so profound, so profound, what I heard from these men. You know, first or second
generation Polish guys who they knew that if they
served in the military they’d become American, you know? And what without exception,
they all blamed themselves for the loss of the war. And I was saying to them,
no, you don’t understand. It had nothing to do with you. We never fielded a better army. You did just what you were told to do. Wasn’t your fault. You know, the French didn’t
win and they were, anyway. It was very weird. It was an incredible experience. Somebody wrote a play about it, in fact. And there was a guy that came in with, it was Delta death
card, it was an ace of spades, and he came in wanting
to throw it at my feet and scare me and instead, he tore it up and threw it in the garbage. (chuckles) And I’m still in contact with him. So you know, when we
can talk to each other and hear each other as
humans, things turn out okay. Yeah. – But it’s important to say
that this was the 1980s, the late 1980s, wasn’t
it, when this happened? It was a long time after the war had ended and there was still vitriol and hatred being stirred up and ongoing. – You know, we had never lost a war. And it was so close to
the surface in these men. It defined their lives and
this guilt that they carried and this feeling that everybody hated them and it was very difficult for them. So yeah, the pain, the anger,
the hatred was very close to the surface and I
think in some small way, we helped to (exhales sharply) to smooth it out a little bit, yeah. – And all this time, you were
often driving across America, you were meeting activists. When you weren’t meeting veterans, you were talking firsthand,
always, to people about workers rights, about civil rights, and I was really struck by the fact that he was stopped
and searched regularly. You were followed by the FBI as part of a kind of group
one list of top secret targets and there was a special
operation called COINTELPRO, that you were a target of. And the words they used on your file were an alleged subversive and anarchist, the CIA were opening your mail and you often talk about yourself as you saw yourself as the lone ranger. You were kinda gonna
ride on through it all. Can you give a sense of mentally, how you were coping at the time? – Well, by then I wasn’t a lone ranger. By then I was part of an organization and so you never wanna be alone. You never wanna do
anything as an individual, you wanna do it within an organization because who knows if
you’re right or wrong? You want people to talk
about things collectively and I was surrounded by friends. I knew what was in my
heart, I knew who I was, I knew that I wasn’t a traitor
and that I didn’t intend to do anything that was
against the soldiers, and you know, I cared about the soldiers. And so you just go on. And frankly, the more
they very obviously tried to scare me and everything like that, you know, I’d come home and
all the drawers in our house would be torn out and it’d be like that, the more I just would dig my heels in. – You sued the Nixon administration. – I did and I won, yeah. The ACLU yay, ACLU. (audience laughing) American Civil Liberties Union. (audience clapping) – I think, wasn’t it the first
time the CIA ever admitted that they had been kind
of going through the mail of a U.S. citizen? It was, they admitted
they did that with you. – And went into my bank. They got the bank to turn over, you know, that had never happened before. – Amazing, and what’s really interesting is all the way through this
period, you’re winning awards, you’re making big box office films. – Not big box office films. – No, were films like The
China Syndrome not significant? – Well, that was quite a bit longer and the reason The China
Syndrome made money was because two weeks after it opened, Three Mile Island happened. – And people wanted to know–
– We should say it’s a film about nuclear disaster. – what’s going on. So they went to see the film and the film explained
what a meltdown would mean. – In a nuclear reactor. But I’m fascinated by all these films you’re making through the 70s, they all seem to have
a political connection and they’re all exciting,
entertaining films as well. – Well if you wanna say something
important about an issue you have to figure out what’s, it’s like, what is the style, you
know, like Coming Home was kind of a sexy love story, China Syndrome was a suspense, Nine to Five was a comedy, you know? – Well–
– Preston Sturges was the most brilliant person
who knew how to deliver a message in a way that was
very popular and entertaining. – So these films like Sullivan’s Travels. – Yes, yes.. – Yeah, so you were kind of inspired by– – Yes, yes.
– that use of mainstream entertainment.
– Yes. – Well it does lead very nicely
onto the film Nine to Five which was a big box office smash. It’s about three white-collar women imagining murdering their sexist boss. I’m not gonna say anything. But I gather it grew out of crowdsourcing from your activism,
stories that came to you from your friends.
– Well, during the anti-war movement, I became friends with a woman named Karen Nussbaum who, her day job was
organizing women office workers and she would tell me stories and I said, I gotta make a movie about this. And it started off being
a kinda dark comedy, and then one day I
didn’t really know Lily, I’d never seen Lily Tomlin. I went to her one-woman show. And I fell in love. I was just stunned by her
brilliance and I said to myself, I don’t wanna make a
movie about secretaries unless Lily Tomlin is in it. And as this is true, as I was driving home from the theater I turned on the radio and Dolly Parton was singing Two Doors Down and the hair stood up
on the back of my neck. And I thought oh my goodness. She’s never been in a movie
but if Dolly was in a movie and imagine, she can’t even see her hands, you know, and she’s trying to type with her big breasts and
her long fingernails and. (audience laughing)
(laughs) People are gonna wanna see
Dolly Parton in a movie, as a secretary, this is perfect. But it took me a year to convince them. But eventually I did and
we rewrote the script. Colin Higgins wrote and
directed it and I arranged, there was a National Association
of women office workers, 9to5, the National Association. And they were based in
Cleveland and I called up and I said, look, I’m coming
with the writer, director and would you gather
together 30 or 40 women from different companies,
banks, and insurance companies so that he can ask them all questions. So they sat in a circle
and they all went around and told their stories and then, this is why he was a genius. He said, do you ever fantasize what you’d like to do to your boss? (everyone laughing) I mean, we couldn’t use
a lot of what was said. (audience laughing) Oh my god. But that formed the basis of of the movie. It was just genius. – Well we’re gonna have
a look at a clip now and let me just say, you,
casting these two people, even though you’re the
one with two Oscars, you give yourself the kind
of relatively modest part. You’re the– – Well I had to get them in the movie. (audience laughing) – So you’re the new divorcee
who’s forced back to work after her husband has gone
off with his secretary. And Lily Tomlin has
introduced you to the boss who is promoted over her and you’re about to
meet his new secretary. (audience clapping) I chose that clip because what I loved was how earlier in the
film, you show how women are often set against each other, and divided against each other until they learn how to organise. And it had a remarkable reaction from audiences at the time it came out. – It was a huge hit and
it made a big difference for women office workers. 9to5, the association
of women office workers, became District 9to5, part SEIU, the Public
Service Employees Union. Yeah and of course, the song became the anthem for
women office workers. It made a big difference.
– Yeah. – They didn’t anymore need to explain what they were up against. They just have to figure
out how to solve it. – Yeah, we haven’t quite done that yet.
– Still to be done, by the way.
(audience laughing) – I think we have to say,
there’s been at least one mean-spirited review in
a British paper by a man who complained that he
doesn’t think Nine to Five is a feminist film because
of what it plays for laughs. What would you say? – You mean, if it had been serious, it would have been a feminist movie? – Well, I think it’s interesting that it’s an entertaining film, even just the little joke about
her not being able to type I mean, I also say, I
think it’s a mean-spirited way to look at it now. But it is interesting, isn’t it? People sometimes have very narrow views about what they think can be feminist. – You think? – Yeah, maybe.
(audience laughing) (Jane laughing) – No kidding.
– You’ve not had any of this? – No, I’ve never had that before. (audience laughing) – I mean certainly in Britain,
I didn’t have where you are, there’s been a lot about
the pay gap in particular, including at the BBC, and
it’s interesting in a way, that although this film was made in 1980, although we don’t have typing
pools in the same way now, every single issue in it, sexual harassment, men
being promoted over women, the pay gap, none of
them have been solved. I don’t know whether you
would be the Jane Fonda who made Nine to Five in
1980 would be horrified. We don’t seem to have got
as far as you’d think. – We’ve come a little way but in some ways for office workers it’s worse now. Here’s why. A lot of them aren’t even hired
by Mr. Hart and the company. They’re hired by another
company and then subcontracted to this company so that
if there’s wage theft or a woman is fired ’cause she’s pregnant or there’s sexual harassment,
where does she go? She doesn’t get benefits or anything. And there’s no place to go
to get redress of grievances. Plus now it’s digital,
they give you your computer and your phone, so they
know your password, so they know everything you
do, everybody you talk to. It’s very easy now to spy on people. Things are really bad
and the pay is so low that you know, I think if we if we did it exactly like this again, we
would probably be working two or three jobs and still
not being able to pay the rent. That’s the reality for working people in the United States today. – I think here, too, we call
it the kinda gig economy. Where people are on short–
– The gig economy, that’s right, yeah.
– term contracts and no contract. I want to move on to On Golden Pond, which is a 1985, it’s a
special moment in your career. You played a daughter trying to reconcile with a father who has
always been aloof and cold. Henry Fonda played your father and you got to work with
Katharine Hepburn as your mother. And I’ve chosen a clip
with her because I think there’s interesting stories
about working with her. They are looking after
your son over the summer while you’re away and in this scene, you have come back unexpectedly. (audience clapping) – It’s a beautiful film. – It is.
– It won many awards. You were all nominated. You didn’t win the Oscar
for best supporting actress but both Katharine Hepburn and– – Can I tell you what she said to me? – Yeah, please.
– See, I produced the movie for my father and we were all nominated and she won and he won and
I called her the next day to congratulate her, she said,
you’ll never catch me now. (audience laughing) – And this was because,
tell us what that meant. – Well I had won two and she’d won three, so if she didn’t win and I
did, we’d be tied at three but if she won and I
didn’t, she’d have four and I’d have two, I’d never catch up. She was right.
(audience laughing) – But what makes that
kind of extra, I think, fair to say, depressing in a way, is that you had got to know
her well over the shoot. She was very kind of short with you at the start.
– She was prickly and very competitive in a way that my generation didn’t understand. It was– – You weren’t supposed to have children if you wanted a career as an actor. – She was angry that I was married and had children and a dog and you know, she just,
she was a character and the first thing she ever said to me was I don’t like you. (attendees laughing) Because she and my dad had never met and so they met because
they were gonna be shooting and I wasn’t there because
I was with Dolly Parton who, in a way, for
thanking me for hiring her for Nine to Five, she did something very special for me down south. And so I wasn’t there
and that was, Kathryn thought that that meant
I didn’t respect her. So from then on I had to do everything I could to show her that I respected her. And you know I, (laughs) the same day that she told
me she didn’t like me, then she said, are you
gonna do the backflip? And I have no intention
of doing the back flip. – So there’s this big thing at the moment about you know, you’d finally
be able to do a backflip into the lake, that you couldn’t do as a child.
– I hate the cold water. I don’t like going over backwards and I certainly don’t
know how to do a backflip. So I had someone already
in training to do it and she asked me that and I flashed on her doing the backflip
in Philadelphia story. (audience murmuring) And I said, no, of course I’m
going to do the back flip. (audience laughing) And I spent a month trying
to learn, first on a mattress with a pulley and I mean, I
really, it was very difficult and then I graduated to the float where eventually the scene was shot. Over and over and over again, I would try to do it with my coach and then eventually I managed
to go all the way around. That day I was crawling up on the beach, I was covered with bruises, and out of the bushes
comes Katharine Hepburn. (audience laughing) She’d been hiding in
the bushes watching me. (audience laughing) And she came up to me and she said, you’ve taught me to respect you, Jane. (audience laughing) You’ve stood up to your fears. There is nothing more important. If you don’t stand up to your
fears, you’ll become soggy. (everyone laughing) Thank you, God. I was so grateful she
didn’t think I was soggy. – This was a big mantra, never be soggy. – Never be soggy. And then the big scene I had with my dad, I had to say things to him
that I had never said in life and the film was very much close to the way it really was in our life. He thought I was fat and he
you know, just all the things. I don’t know, the guy that
wrote it didn’t even know that my father and I had a relationship that was very much like that. And so when the time came for me to shoot my part of the scene, I was
drier than a witch’s tit. I could tell you.
(audience laughing) I could not call up any emotion whatsoever because it was too close, I guess. I was scared to death and I
turned my back to the camera. I was standing in the water
and I said to Mark Rydell, the director, I’ll prepare
and then I’ll turn around and then you can roll the cameras. And I mean, I’m there and
I’m praying to Lee Strasburg, please send me a sign,
tell me what’ll I do, and I looked and there
was Katharine Hepburn in the bushes again.
(audience laughing) Nobody could see her but me. And she raised her fists. You can do it Jane, you can do it Jane. And it was older actress
to younger actress, it was (sighs) mother to daughter and she, with her fists and her eyes, she willed me into the scene. – Beautiful
– Yeah, isn’t? Yeah.
(audience applauding) – There’s one more thing she said to you, I wanted to ask about. You talked about that very intense scene at the end, with your father,
where you deliberately sit there and you do
all the reverse shots, which actors don’t have to do,
the camera’s on him, not you, and you wait until the
last take to reach out and touch his arm.
– Dad always, you know, you had to rehearse a lot and then you had to do it
exactly the way you rehearsed. And he was scared of emotion which is strange, being
an actor and everything, but he didn’t like emotion. But the scene was so important to me, I wanted him to do something unexpected so when I thought it was his last close-up and I say to him, I want to be your friend and he said, I just thought
we didn’t like each other and I reach out and I did something that I hadn’t done in rehearsal
and I touched his arm. And it’s like the whole world
just stopped for a second and then he went like this. But I saw the tears in his eyes. It meant the world to me. I moved him, yeah. But he didn’t want anybody to see it. – But then when it was
time for your reverses. – Well, that was then,
it was Hepburn was there. – But he didn’t do them for you and after you’d done them for him and Kevin Hepburn said
something to you about– – Oh, that was a different
scene, that was when– – A difference scene?
– Right. We’re in the house and the two of them, Katharine and my dad,
were playing Parcheesi and he says something nasty
about why I don’t play Parcheesi and I say something, it’s
a very sharp exchange between the two of us. And we shot my close-up first and there was so much light on me that I couldn’t see his eyes. So I asked the cinematographer
to dim the light a little bit so I could see his eyes we did that part and then we turned around
and it was his close-up and before we shot, I
said, is it okay, Dad? Can you see my eyes? He said, I don’t need to see your eyes, I’m not that kind of actor. (audience laughing) And then this thing happened
that’s not uncommon for actors. It’s really weird. Half of my brain wanted to
commit suicide basically. I mean, I just felt awful. I’m not that kind of actor. I wanted to die. And then the other part of my brain said, yes, this is exactly what Chelsea should be feeling right now, totally diminished, this is just perfect, but I was very, very, very hurt. And it was the end of
the day and everybody was wrapping to go home and
I was sitting on the couch and Katharine Hepburn sat next to me. (chuckles) She put her arm around me. Jane,
(audience laughing) he didn’t know he hurt you. He’s just like Spence. Spence used to send me away. He didn’t even want me
around for the close-ups. – [Samira] This Spencer Tracy, her father? – Spencer Tracy, yeah. It was so important to
me, I’d had a witness. She saw what happened and she understood. Oh my God, it meant so much to me. She was so complicated and interesting. I think that everything
she did was to make sure that when she died, I’d
talk about her a lot. (audience laughing) I really think so. (laughs) In the very, very beginning
of the movie, (laughs) I was fixing my hair
before we started shooting. There was a mirror on the
set and I was fixing my hair. She came up behind me
and she reached around, and she went like this, Jane (laughs), what do you think about this? This is your mocks, meaning, you know, how you present yourself to the world. What do you think about this? I didn’t even know what she meant. (audience laughing) What do I think about how
I present to the world? I always thought it was a bad
thing to be self-conscious but over the years it’s haunted me and I’ve come to the
realisation that being conscious of how you present to the world
is not a bad thing at all. You need to know that. But I didn’t understand it then, you know? So she was, you know, she was a real, when you talk about elders,
she was a quintessential elder who took it on her shoulders to teach and mentor. Michael Jackson, the
singer, was a friend of mine and he had just made The
Wiz and he was interested in learning about movie
acting and he asked if he could come and stay with me and watch the shooting
between dad and Katherine. And at first, Katherine
didn’t know who he was and she didn’t want, she was such a snob. Oh my lord. – Surely not.
– He’s black? (audience laughing) But then she found out he was famous (audience laughing) and so she not only welcomed him but I would bring him to the
set when I wasn’t working and she would, between takes,
she would bring a chair over and have him sit next to her
and she would tell him stories. And embedded in every story was a lesson. For example, she talked to him about seeing Laurette Taylor
when she was a young girl, in Glass Menagerie and
she described the magic, the raw presence of this brilliant, probably the most brilliant
theater actress ever in America. And then she talked about
10 or 15, 20 years later, seeing Laurette Taylor in the play again and the magic was gone. And because she said she wasn’t hungry any more, do you know? She wasn’t hungry and raw. What a great thing to say
to a young Michael Jackson who was on the cusp of
Thriller and you know, and you gotta stay hungry,
you gotta stay raw, you gotta be willing to go deep, dig deep. That’s just one example and I don’t know whatever happened to the tapes. I mean they would be really valuable now but she did that for an entire week. She would just sit him
down and tell him stories that had lessons in them. Is that great?
– Its great. I want to fit in one more clip before we open up to questions,
which is Monster-in-Law, which is your comeback film in 2005 and what’s interesting
is that superficially, it’s like a film about
a monstrous older woman but as the TV news anchor,
determined Jennifer Lopez isn’t good enough for your son. Actually, we see the backstory. Early on, we see that your character gets sacked for being too old and here you are, still in shock, doing your last interview
with a young pop star. – Yeah I remember that scene. (faint speaking)
(audience clapping) – It seemed the right clip to end on. The Roe versus Wade reference, the unleashing of female anger. It feels, although it’s made in 2005, it feels like a moment of today. Tell me about why you
came back with that film and the fact that it’s written that way. – I had left the business. I married Ted Turner. I had no intention of ever acting again. I didn’t miss it at all. And then 10 years with Ted
and then I wrote my memoir. And by the time I finished
writing my memoir, I was a different person and
I thought I could find joy in acting again and then
the script came along and I’ve never thought
strategically about my career in my life but I thought, a-ha. This is very interesting, ’cause
my part is the better part. People are gonna come
to see Jennifer Lopez but they’re gonna find Jane
Fonda or re-find Jane Fonda and that’s exactly what happened. It became a huge success and very often, when I see a group of young women, especially Latinas walking towards me and they recognise me
and then get excited. Forget Coming Home, and Klute, and Julia and everything, that’s all. I know what they’re gonna say. (gasps) Monster-in-Law,
I’ve seen it 15 times. That’s my favorite movie of all. You know, it’s great, it’s great. – Let’s take some questions. Let’s keep them nice and short so we can get as many in as we can. I’ll take one here. How many mics have we got? Have we got two? So one here and can we take the one down the far right there? – The women’s movement was a distraction that was to start with, then
I began to meet feminists, most particularly Gloria Steinem
and I began to read books and I began to understand
intellectually what feminism was. And I put feminism into my movies but I didn’t embody feminism. You can’t embody feminism
if you’re in marriages that are not authentic. You just can’t. And so it took me (laughs) into my 60s to really, and I
know exactly when it happened, one of my best friends is Eve Ensler who wrote The Vagina Monologues and I was watching her
in her last performance where she played all of the characters in The Vagina Monologues. And it was while I was laughing that my feminism went
from my head into my body. I can’t explain it but I
became an embodied feminist. (laughs) Yeah.
(audience applauding) – Right, more questions. – When I left the business in 1990, it was still, you could
make movies like Coming Home and Nine-to-Five and China
Syndrome at a major studio. That’s not true anymore,
except very, very, very rarely do you make those kind
of movies at studios. Because of globalization,
the major studios, to make a lot of money, have to do movies that will appeal in China
and India and France and all over the world
and that usually means that a certain kind of
man has to be in the lead and there has to be a lot of action and a lot of special effects because that plays across cultures. Character-driven stories and comedies don’t necessarily play across cultures. They’re called tentpole movies and you know that kinda
leaves out old women, kinda leaves out a certain kinda movie that a lot of us prefer. So we have to try to scrounge around and get funding for independent films but what has happened
that didn’t exist before, was television has bloomed. The good writers, a lot of good directors, a lot of women directors
have moved to television and I’m very grateful for
that because having a small, well, now the screens are
pretty big for television but it’s more forgiving for older people. (everyone laughing) And you can do things on television that you never could do before and you can get really good writers. And it’s just fascinating
what television has become. – Which is Grace and Frankie,
which I didn’t mention, which is your comedy show–
– Yeah. – with Lily Tomlin.
– Right. – Which is magnificent.
– And the other thing that’s changed is when I
came back after 15 years, to make Monster-in-Law and I
remember the very first take and Jennifer Lopez was there and I said, where’s the director? And she said, well, he’s in Video Village. I didn’t even know what
she was talking about. I didn’t realise that
we’d gone from having film in the camera and the director
standing next to the camera, to he’s around the corner, it’s always he or too much he, not so much now. It’ll change.
(hand knocking) Around the corner, under
a tent, looking at a video of what you’re doing and that
takes some getting used to. That was different. Also, you know, when I
left we had klieg lights, these huge, you know, these huge, lighting was very different
because you were using film. I remember one of my first close-ups I did in Monster-in-Law,
the light was a tiny, it was that long, it
was a fluorescent tube behind a vase of flowers. That was my light. (audience laughing) You know, it was like, wow,
this is very different. Andy was my friend. Andy did portraits of me
which I asked him to do, that I could sell to raise money for my husband’s political campaigns but I still have 10 of ’em. (attendees laughing) And they’re all hanging
in my apartment. (laughs) Yeah, Andy was a friend. Not very, very close friend. Not like he was with you
know, Viva and others but yeah, I knew those folks, yeah. (faint speaking) – [Man] Responsible for putting
Candy Darling into the film on clued.
– Yeah, yeah. – [Samira] Fantastic. – Candy Darling had a crush on my husband at the time, Roger Vadim. I had never been a regular on a TV series. It’s a different animal. I learned very quickly. I had all kinds of ideas in the beginning and then I realised I don’t
know what I’m talking about. It’s just very different and we have a fantastic room of writers. Our lead person who came
up with the whole idea and is the lead writer is
a woman, Marta Kauffman, she’s the co-creator of Friends and I’ve learned to
just keep my mouth shut and sometimes because in the beginning, like about a month
before we start shooting, the writers are already
in the writers room now for the end of January when we start shooting the 6th season
and in about a month, Marta will call me and
Lily in and she will talk about the arc of the season. And sometimes if we don’t agree. Like a couple of years
ago, the season ended with Lily and me getting
married, we didn’t think so. No, so we nixed that. But you know, we have a little input. For example, this is really superficial. In fact, I’m not gonna go into it. I’m not gonna take your time, but we just get along really, really well. I love Lily, we’re best
friends and her partner of 46 years, Jane, the genius Jane Wagner. She’s J one and I’m J two. (audience laughing) And we laugh a lot, especially
at 2:00 in the morning when we’ve been working for 16 hours we get kind of giddy and we laugh. It’s a lot of fun. I just love her. She just has a natural funny bone. – [Samira] Excellent. – Well, it remains to be seen. You know, Me Too is the
beginning of the movement when survivors came forward
and told their stories and because they were white and famous and because the perpetrators were men and they were famous,
people paid attention and they were believed. African-American women
have been telling stories like this for a long time. Anita Hill being the most famous of them and people didn’t believe. And it didn’t have traction. So it’s sad that it had to be that. It had to be white women in Hollywood but Time’s Up is now,
what do we do about it? And at the very beginning
of our discussing strategy for Time’s Up,
we received a letter from the head of the Alliance
of Women Farmworkers, 700,000 of them in the United States. A dear sisters letter that was published in the New York Times,
saying we understand. We stand with you. We understand what you’re going through. We experience it every day in the fields. And it really made us sit
up and think about this and realise that if we’re gonna matter, if we’re gonna work,
if it’s gonna succeed, we have to stand at the
margins with other women on factory floors, in fields, in offices, in hotels, the women who
care for the elderly, the women who take care of our
homes, who are so vulnerable, who don’t have voices like
women in Hollywood do, who are so vulnerable to losing
their job if they speak up and we have to stand
with them in solidarity. We have to go to Washington with them and lobby for the changes
that they need to have happen. You know and that’s what we’re doing and I think it has given real meaning to the notion of intersectionality. And I don’t think this is gonna go away. I think this has really made
a difference for us internally so we’re not gonna stop fighting. Structural changes are very hard. What it means for one thing is doing away with forced arbitration, doing away with the consent,
what are they called? Non-disclosure agreements. You know, where you’re
scared you’ll be sued if you talk about what’s really going on. We have to get rid of those and we have to get more
women in positions of power. And I work very closely,
since Trump was elected, with an organization called ROC, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. It’s restaurant workers,
13 million of them in the United States,
80% of them are women, often single mothers, the
federal mandated salary for a tipped worker is $2.13 an hour. I mean, you don’t live on $2.13 an hour. It all goes to taxes so you’re
completely dependent on tips which means that whatever
the man does to you, the customer does to you, I mean, I know a woman, somebody bit her breast. She’s suffering from PTSD. If they grab your butt, if
they say inappropriate thing, they you have to smile and put up with it or you literally will not be able to feed your children and pay your rent. There are seven states
in the United States that have a fair wage
where tipped workers earn the same minimum wage
other workers do plus tips and in those seven states, sexual harassment was cut in half. And you know, that proved to me, that is concrete proof
that when there is pay equity and when women have more financial power, we don’t put up with it and it just doesn’t
happen in the same way. It’s why on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I’m gonna be in Michigan
with Taraji P. Henson, (audience clapping) Cookie in Empire, and Patrisse Cullors, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter and we’re gonna be
traveling all over Michigan. We spent two years fundraising
and gathering 400,000 signatures to get One Fair
Wage on the ballot in Michigan. And the very right-wing
tea party state legislature was so scared that it would motivate people to go to the polls to vote themselves a raise that they passed it. They hate it but they passed it to get it off the ballot,
making it very clear that after the election,
they’re gonna gut it. So we have to fight to prevent
that from happening, yeah. How do I feel when acting on
stage as opposed to on camera? It’s a different animal
and I did five plays on Broadway when I was just starting out. I did not enjoy them,
and when I turned 70, I thought, I wanna do a play and I got a script called 33 Variations. It was a wonderful play,
written and directed by Moises Kaufman, with
a terrific part for me and I really, really enjoyed doing it. I wanted to do it because
it was on my bucket list. My dad always liked theater more and I wanted to find out what it was. And there’s just something
about being in front of a live audience that’s
very exciting and special. It’s an interesting experience ’cause it takes so much out of you. Eight performances, you know, a week, twice on Saturday and Wednesday, that every nook and cranny of your psyche is filled with this. You have to totally not
think of or do anything else but focus on it. I love that, I just love that but I don’t think I’ll do it again. (audience laughing) Here’s why, because at least in New York, you have to be rich to go to the theater and I don’t have that much time left. And the time that I
have, I wanna do projects that have something to say
that will reach everyone and theater is not that. So I’d rather do television
than theater but I love theater. It started in the 70s, there was a recession
in the United States. The war was over. My then-husband Tom Hayden and I wanted to start a statewide
organization in California called the California Campaign
for Economic Democracy. California is a huge state. It required a lot of money and fundraising was getting very hard so we thought, I should start a business. And then I asked a businessman that I knew who gave a great answer, never go into a business
you don’t understand. (chuckles) Well, I don’t
understand a whole lot but I know working out. So I started the work
out, the organization owned the work out and all the money went to the Campaign
for Economic Democracy. – That’s fantastic.
(audience clapping) – We sadly have to leave it there, just because of your schedule.
– We really have to go? All right, thank you very much. You were a great audience.
– But can I just say, thank you, Miss Fonda. – Thank you so much.
(attendees applauding) (mystical music)

100 thoughts on “In conversation with… Jane Fonda | BFI Comedy Genius

  1. An acting coach once said, "Acting is reacting." That means, for you
    people who need a lot of explanations, that an actor watches the crowd
    (or mob, in this case) and plays TO it. Gives it MORE.
    When Hanoi Jane sat on that ZSU-23-4 she played to the Vietnamese.
    When Hanoi Jane travels on her reinvention tour, she plays to the people like Okrah or Little Jimmie Kimmel.
    No diff.

  2. I have a lot of time for this woman. She needn't ever have gone beyond the glitz of Hollywood, the machine that would have picked her up and discarded her at a certain age because of course.
    But she chose to engage with the real world beyond those rarefied confines, to carve out a space for the voices who are overlooked, cast aside. She understood and understands solidarity, & the importance of finding common ground. She had choices, and she chose good. It's called integrity. Respect, sister.

  3. She's a very empowering Lady. America is blessed to have her as their own. I as a Canadian would welcome her passionate efforts, even if only for awhile. Thanks so much for this upload, appreciate it.

  4. This interviewer is top notch. She'd done her homework and when she asked Jane a question, Jane was "not in that moment" and the interviewer would introduce a fact and Jane was able to pick up and run with it. Had it been in inferior interviewer, Jane would have come off badly. Maybe she wasn't in the mood to talk yet again about herself when she first got there. I also appreciate that the interview got in a bit about most of her movies (something her HBO special didn't do (and it was here on YT — look for it because it WILL be deleted as soon as they realize it's there).

  5. She's a fighter and will be to the end. Thank you Mrs Fonda, you are an inspiration and we are lucky to have you as a role model. You work so hard.

  6. I love to listen to Jane Fonda. Such an interesting person. The presenter prepared a good interview but i think her voice or maybe she was too mechanical spoilt the final result.

  7. Wow,Jane says it like it is,one of the greatest actresses,looking great,totally on the pulse,& what a great memory she has for her age,thank you for the upload!

  8. Jane committed treason and should have been executed years ago. Jane had a lot of Vietnam Veterans killed, so sad how so many people like this murderer, I just don't get it.

  9. shes great. looks very good yet. [opinion: pale lip-color doesn't look great on anyone. especially not on older faces, as it makes them look washed-out, lacking color and vitality.]

  10. good interview. Jane is a real trooper, she looks like she has a lot of aches and pains but still gives it her best.

  11. The interviewer is excellent although she talks too fast and she is so fast paced she doesnt digest the interview. Fonda will have just told a great story and the interviwer brushes over it to run to the next thing. Take a chill pill.
    But she should learn how counterproductive it is to be so dependent on and constantly reading from her ipad screen or whatever it is. She keeps it on her lap so she has to drop her head so low to look at it. It's like she's not there in the interview. She's there with her lap. But excellent interview. Very interesting. A contribution to oral history of Jane Fonda.

  12. She has not had an easy young life. Her mother was mentally challenged and committed suicide when she was 12. She has had four husbands, each representing a different decade in her life. She has used her fame to help others her entire life, she is a woman of conviction, and I feel she has found her true self without being married. A true artist, activist and woman. And above all, an incredible role model for older woman and how to stay relevant in older age.

  13. It's amazing to me that she has been vilified over her participation in protests against the Vietnam War, but not LBJ. He was a monster. I'm also very impressed about her knowledge of office workers' situations. You don't even hear elected officials confront this problem. This is a marvelous interview. I love the Hepburn stories.

  14. Hope Megan Kelley watches this and she would learn how to interview a legend like Jane Fonda with the respect and honor she deserves.

  15. Jane Fonda is also a tranny that is why he is so skinny and hold that body all muscles. Most tranny are nasty people, not all of them are nasty but they are real men. And the testosterone is coming out.

  16. Love Jane Fonda and her work. She's a wonderful human being, awesome activist and advocate for women. Thank you Ms. Fonda for your hard work.

  17. I love Jane Fonda!! She really is the L.E.G.E.N.D. this interview is interesting because I got to hear new stories (which in my case is unussual :-). The interviewer is smart, only she doesnt connect on human level… after hearing some really emotional stories… she doesnt pause to take it in… to connect with Jane… anyway thanks for posting!!!

  18. i dont know about you lot but i really love how jane's now finally just letting her hair go white, it suits her.
    i miss the blonde highlights, but the white-blonde actually looks amazing on her.
    everybody gets old one day, but jane's workn that hairdo. so luv her with lily on grace&frankie, never missed anEP

  19. Sandra Shevey interviewed Jane Fonda and Peter Fonda in the Seventies. sandrasheveyinterviews YouTube Her interview with Jon Voight re: `Coming Home` co-starring and produced by Jane Fonda ran as a cover for Metropolitan Newspapers (60 Sunday magazines) Her editors were chary about assigning it because they didn`t think Voight had a chance to win. Their money was on Warren Beatty/Robert DeNiro. But Shevey persisted, did the interview and Voila. Voight won. Almost every newspaper within the 60 newspaper syndicate ran the interview. Shevey lives in London and lectures on film worldwide. While she believes everyone has a right to an opinion about `Old Hollywood` she also feels as an emeritus interviewer who covered `Old Hollywood` from the Sixties to date that more access should be given to those who know, those of us who chronicled the system during the golden years. You can contact Sandra at [email protected]

  20. A friend of mine director Elliot Silverstein directed `Cat Ballou`. He pitched for me along with Fielder Cook to edit the DGA magazine. They lost sadly.

  21. Jane Fonda is a hard hard interview. But dammit she`s the best darn actress we`ve seen in decades and she`s still working.

  22. Andy Warhol talked me into doing a feature on Viva (real name Susan Cohen or some such moniker) We both worked at `American Girl`. He left the art department a year or so before I joined the editorial (and remained for about 6 months)

  23. The Equal Rights Amendment did not pass as a bill in the Seventies. It should have. Run the bill again Hillary Clinton.

  24. Don`t know about `Candy Darling` but Barbara Harrison (a journalist) was accused of having a crush on Jane after an interview. Jane never commented. Perhaps she should.

  25. Jane was great on the interview, but the interviewer reading the question!!! Come on. This is an well known celebrity from ever!

  26. So far ! I’ve only watched the first 8 minutes and I’m not impressed with this interviewer! And Jane’s body language is – She’s not comfortable either!

  27. Jane Fonda, you are a brilliant, beloved, charming, gracious and motivating presence. May God bless you in everything you do. ❤️❤️

  28. There has been a lot of progress with equality of opportunity issues though. However
    men and women today, face problems with finding jobs that pay enough to attain a lifestyle that most baby boomers were able to achieve.

  29. Hanoi Jane's Propaganda Radio Broadcast

    This is a transcript of the propaganda radio broadcast Hanoi Jane Fonda delivered in North Vietnam on August 22, 1972 — Hanoi.

    The following was submitted in the U.S. Congress House Committee on
    Internal Security, Travel to Hostile Areas. [HR16742, 19-25 September 1972, page 761]
    This is Jane Fonda.
    During my two week visit in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, I've had the
    opportunity to visit a great many places and speak to a large number of
    people from all walks of life- workers, peasants, students, artists and
    dancers, historians, journalists, film actresses, soldiers, militia
    girls, members of the women's union, writers.

    I visited the (Dam Xuac) agricultural coop, where the silk worms are also raised and thread
    is made. I visited a textile factory, a kindergarten in Hanoi. The
    beautiful Temple of Literature was where I saw traditional dances and
    heard songs of resistance. I also saw unforgettable ballet about the
    guerrillas training bees in the south to attack enemy soldiers. The bees
    were danced by women, and they did their job well.

    In the shadow of the Temple of Literature I saw Vietnamese actors and actresses
    perform the second act of Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, and this was
    very moving to me- the fact that artists here are translating and
    performing American plays while US imperialists are bombing their

    I cherish the memory of the blushing militia girls on
    the roof of their factory, encouraging one of their sisters as she sang a
    song praising the blue sky of Vietnam- these women, who are so gentle
    and poetic, whose voices are so beautiful, but who, when American planes
    are bombing their city, become such good fighters.

    I cherish the way a farmer evacuated from Hanoi, without hesitation, offered me, an
    American, their best individual bomb shelter while US bombs fell near
    by. The daughter and I, in fact, shared the shelter wrapped in each
    others arms, cheek against cheek. It was on the road back from Nam Dinh,
    where I had witnessed the systematic destruction of civilian targets-
    schools, hospitals, pagodas, the factories, houses, and the dike system.

    As I left the United States two weeks ago, Nixon was again telling the
    American people that he was winding down the war, but in the rubble-
    strewn streets of Nam Dinh, his words echoed with sinister (words
    indistinct) of a true killer. And like the young Vietnamese woman I held
    in my arms clinging to me tightly- and I pressed my cheek against hers-
    I thought, this is a war against Vietnam perhaps, but the tragedy is

    One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a
    doubt since I've been in this country is that Nixon will never be able
    to break the spirit of these people; he'll never be able to turn
    Vietnam, north and south, into a neo- colony of the United States by
    bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way. One has only to go into
    the countryside and listen to the peasants describe the lives they led
    before the revolution to understand why every bomb that is dropped only
    strengthens their determination to resist. I've spoken to many peasants
    who talked about the days when their parents had to sell themselves to
    landlords as virtually slaves, when there were very few schools and much
    illiteracy, inadequate medical care, when they were not masters of
    their own lives.

    But now, despite the bombs, despite the crimes
    being created- being committed against them by Richard Nixon, these
    people own their own land, build their own schools- the children
    learning, literacy- illiteracy is being wiped out, there is no more
    prostitution as there was during the time when this was a French colony.
    In other words, the people have taken power into their own hands, and
    they are controlling their own lives.

    And after 4,000 years of struggling against nature and foreign invaders- and the last 25 years,
    prior to the revolution, of struggling against French colonialism- I
    don't think that the people of Vietnam are about to compromise in any
    way, shape or form about the freedom and independence of their country,
    and I think Richard Nixon would do well to read Vietnamese history,
    particularly their poetry, and particularly the poetry written by Ho Chi
    [recording ends]

  30. Love their friendship. They are remarkable women to follow and treasure. Love Lily wanting to sit closer and closer to Jane, so sweet.

  31. Jane you are a beautiful woman , but I need to tell you your hair is to light ! It makes you
    Look older !! You look gray !

  32. I adore Jane Fonda. She is so easy to listen to. Her body language in this interview seems SO uncomfortable though. She doesn’t seem to be able to sit comfortably or catch her breath.

  33. She's a great lady. Love grace and frankie. She's funny but yet very passionate towards the little guy who doesn't have a voice. Much respect for her. Katherine Hepburn is smiling!!

  34. Jane in 8 decade of life. Jane went Vietnam And colluded with Vietnam communists payed for by communist China supporting North Vietnam. See mass murders when America pulled out. Jane responsible for many 19 20 year old GIs. Jane responsibility for my brother death. Barry not American. Did almost damage as Jane Fonda.

  35. What a wonderful interview! It started a little awkward but soon it started to gather steam! What an interesting woman! I learned things I never knew, and not once did the interviewer comment on her looks for her age or ask about plastic surgery! Loved it! ❤️

  36. It just happens the only attractive / smart socialist is Jane Fonda 😂 the interviewer is good too

  37. 13:30 WTF is up with Jane's shapeshifting finger? (Set on slow motion speed .25 and pause) then notice the host spots the out of control finger and interlocks her hands to signal to Jane, and then Jane interlocks her hands! #FingerGate

  38. my grandfather claims that when he was in Vietnam, he heard Jane Fonda was on Land and supposedly had people killed days after hearing of her presence.

  39. My hero. My inspiration. My motivation. Love you Jane! Thank you for everything! God grant you strength and health!

  40. Boy, towards the end, Jane said some very true and substantial realizations!!!! Grace and Frankie is my favorite show. Watch it over and over. Waiting for our sick Jane to recover. So very glad the writers did not have Grace and Frankie marry in the show. That would ruin the whole show. Funny for about a second. Saw a panel of the cast and writers trying to suggest new ideas for the show and thought one boy friend going through could be Richard Gere. Then for a more permanent guest, have Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma be their beach house neighbor. Play themselves. Play that they thought living by the ocean for a while would help them break their writers block. Julie and her daughter are writers of children’s books in real life. But……I can’t get to that show to tell them. If you know how to make these suggestions, please help!!!! Please tell them. Julie Andrews has a sailors mouth. That would shock Grace and Frankie! 👍🏼

  41. You’re great Jane!!!! Way to go!!!! And thank you for donating the money from your workout tapes. Your my hero!!!!

  42. So Beautiful Jane, I honor you so much. My Grandfather was a famous detective in Hollywood in the late 30's, My mother worked in the theater's with the flashlights., to her all of you were our extended family growing up. My story is so deep, I live overwhelmed , at 60 now, I am so thankful to you tube for bringing you to real life for me today. July 07, 2019.
    GOD BLESS YOU!!!!🤩😍 Love [email protected] BRAVO!!!

  43. hanoi jane, the traitor that got our soldier beaten. i have no respect for her at all. capitalism is not wrong . work and you will profit. she wants socialism which destroys the middle class so all you have is the very rich controlling the very poor. no thanks, jane

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