Exclusive Jane Fonda: Fearless and Fabulous

By Michelle Manelis

Exclusive Jane Fonda: Fearless and Fabulous
Fitness guru, style icon and academy-Award winning actress, Jane Fonda, 76, tells us how to stay active as we age.

In the upcoming comedy-drama, This Is Where I Leave You (based on the bestselling novel by Jonathan Tropper), Jane Fonda plays an oversexed, widowed mother-of-four whose family reunites for her husband’s funeral. Joining an all-star cast that includes Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver and Rose Byrne,  Fonda, it seems, has discovered a renewed love for acting despite her retirement in 1991. She also currently stars in cable TV hit, The Newsroom.

Apparently you enjoyed wearing fake breasts in This Is Where I Leave You? 

I totally enjoyed it. It’s true. I hate to talk about this because I was hoping people thought they were mine! I’m giving it all away. It was fun wearing those big things, I wanted to show more of them in the movie but the director wouldn’t let me.

You had breast implants in your 50s and then removed them. Why?

Well, when you get older they tend to get bigger anyway, so I felt inappropriate with the fake ones.

You’ve kissed many co-stars in your movies. Is there a difference between men and women?

Absolutely. Women are much more sensual. Except for my current boyfriend [record producer Richard Perry]. But women are more sensual.

How do you keep romance alive in a long-term relationship?

You’re talking to someone who’s been married three times. You think I have the answers? [Laughs.] I have no idea. No, I’m not gifted at that.

Why are relationships so complicated?

Love is complicated for people who did not grow up with parents who looked into their children’s eyes with love. In other words, people who’ve grown up thinking it was their fault they weren’t loved, because children always think that it’s their fault and they don’t trust themselves and they don’t have confidence. You don’t suddenly get over that. You bring those issues into relationships and it leads to people being narcissists. You can’t have a relationship with a narcissist. It brings people to addiction. You can’t have a relationship with an addict, be it a shopping addiction, gambling, sex or drugs. Some people are addicted to chaos. Every six or seven years we are very different. There are no cells in our body that were the same seven years ago. We change psychologically and if the person we’re with isn’t changing with somewhat the same trajectory, it’s hard. Relationships are complicated. That’s why we love dogs so much, because it’s easy. It’s unconditional love and it’s easy.

Although you don’t regard yourself as an expert on the subject of love, is it true you’re planning to marry again?

Never, ever. Why would I get married? The only reason that Ted Turner and I married was because he had five children and he lived in Georgia. He felt that it was better for the kids that we be married. Also, he wanted the security … He, not me, wanted the security of marriage.

If you don’t need marriage, what is it that Jane Fonda needs today?

Kindness. Nobody teaches us when we are young women to look for kindness. We look for glamour, sexiness, the players. But nobody says maybe the little quieter ones that aren’t so flashy are the better ones in the long haul. I look for kindness and a man who isn’t threatened. [Richard Perry] had a really strong mother so he is not afraid of a strong woman. And so he is kind. But I will never marry.

You’re always described as fearless. Is that how you see yourself?

I’m terrified all the time! I live in constant fear. Every day I go to work and I think, ‘Today’s the day they’ll realise I’m a fraud and I’ll be fired’. And guess what? Most of the actors I know feel the same way. The good ones. When you’re not nervous and scared anymore there is something wrong.

Do you remember a moment in your life when you realised you were making a change for yourself?

So many. I think the most important was when I realised that I needed to be single again and leave Ted Turner. I was 62 years old and for the first time in my life I did not need to be with a man in order to feel validated. And that was a very important moment for me.

That takes a lot of courage.

When you’re an older woman, yeah, it does. But I’m a brave person.

You still look fantastic – what do you do these days?

What matters the most is staying active. If you can show up on a red carpet and look good, a lot of it has to do with the fact that you’ve stayed physically active. I wrote a book about this. When you get older it is especially important to stay active.

What do you do on your ranch?

I have five and a half kilometres of river so I fly fish. I cut down trees, I build stone walls, I blaze trails because I have horses and I want to be able to ride for a long time on my ranch, so I try to be very physical. I have chickens. I eat the eggs from the chickens. I get rid of noxious weeds. I explore on foot or on horseback or on a four-wheeler [quad bike]. It’s 930 hectares, so it’s big, and I know every inch of it up-close and personal. When I’m by myself I cook but nobody that knows me wants me to cook for them. [Laughs.] So when I have guests I don’t cook. When I’m cooking for myself I make salmon, salad, rice and things like that. But I’m not a good cook.

I don’t believe you.

You should. Put it this way: I’m such a bad cook that when I was married to [Roger] Vadim – we didn’t have very much money and what we had he gambled – I was such a bad cook that he became a chef!

Are you looking forward to the 2016 presidential elections?

[Nods.] I’ll vote for Hillary.


Well, I think women, in general, have a different way of doing things. Men tend to hierarchy. There’s someone on the top giving orders down. Women tend to be more circular, more democratic. There’s more collaboration. I’m frankly not 100 per cent sure that Hillary is that way but I think for all kinds of reasons it’s important to have a woman become president of the United States. And I hope that if she is our president that she will be a woman president and not pretend to be a man. She’s also very, very smart and I think she has learned a lot from past mistakes – though I happen to be a big fan of Obama.

It seems you still like to provoke – where does that motivation come from?

To provoke? Oh, I got over that partly because my children told me to stop. [Laughs.] I never consciously wanted to provoke. I don’t know where that tendency came from, I just don’t know. But I’m not that way anymore.

There was a time when people thought you didn’t have a sense of humour. That changed.

You know why? Ten years with Ted Turner. It’s true. He’s hysterical. What he showed me was that you could be completely outrageous and over the top and still loveable. So he
gave me courage. I come from a long line of depressed people. [Laughs.] Like Eeyore, in Winnie-the-Pooh, there’s always a cloud coming over me. But when you get old – and I’ve studied this, I’ve written a book called Prime Time – it has been proven by a huge study that, on average, older people tend to be more positive. I used to be so depressed all the time. Hardly ever anymore. Stress doesn’t stick to me anymore.


Face Value

In her 40-year career and with 40 films to her credit, Jane Fonda is an icon of the international cinema. Her natural elegance and undisputed talent have, over the years, raised her to the rank of muse to some of the greatest filmmakers. At 76 years old, Fonda still exudes a natural radiance and confidence that makes her all the more alluring.

Today, Fonda is the face of the L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect classic range, Age Perfect Intense Nutrition – a complete skincare solution for dry, mature skin. The new range includes a Repairing Day Cream, a Rich Repairing Night Cream and a Repairing Eye Balm. She is also one of the faces of Age Perfect Extraordinary Facial Oil, a potent elixir that protects, moisturises and beautifies every skin type.


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