×

Listen: Jane Fonda on Revealing Herself ‘Warts and All’ in New Documentary

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Debra Birnbaum, chats with Jane Fonda and director Susan Lacy ahead of the Sept. 24 release of their HBO documentary “Jane Fonda in Five Acts.”

Listen to this week’s podcast for free below and at Apple Podcasts:

Lacy says she had long admired the Academy Award winner, known for films like “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and “On Golden Pond.” Lacy wanted to make a “portrait” of Fonda after reading her memoir, “My Life So Far,” and split the documentary into five parts to emphasize the influences on the woman who would become both a lauded actress and a controversial anti-war advocate. She said that in many ways, Fonda was defined by the men in her life — her father (film legend Henry Fonda) and her three husbands — until the fifth chapter, titled “Jane,” when she found herself.

“There was the big, huge shadow of Henry over the whole story in many ways, and then three incredibly different husbands for whom Jane became a sort of different person with each of those husbands,” Lacy says. “Each of these chapters in her life, had a great deal to do with who Jane became. It isn’t like they were dismissed. Jane grew with each one.”

Fonda says she didn’t mind being “a late bloomer,” as “it was all a work in progress” for her to be her authentic self. When the documentary showed at the Cannes Film Festival, Lacy said the whole audience “burst into applause” when the chapter title “Jane” came up.

The documentary touches on Fonda’s childhood and heavy subjects like her mother dying by suicide when Fonda was 12 years old. In the film, she visits her mother’s grave for the first time and said it was an emotional moment. Lacy says the two women cried a few times during interviews, especially talking about Fonda’s mother, and said she thought it was important to show that “forgiveness is liberating.”

Fonda did not shy away from showing these difficult moments of her life in the film and in her memoir, because it allowed her to understand herself and her parents better, and allowed the audience to relate to her experience.

“My attitude is why make a portrait, why allow a portrait of yourself to be made or why write a memoir, unless you’re going to tell the real story?” Fonda says. “Tell the things, warts and all, that are going to help people understand why one has a particular kind of life, because chances are, they’ll be able to identify with it.”

New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or anywhere you download podcasts. You can find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

Let us know what you think of Variety’s podcasts! You can email us at podcasts@variety.com to offer comments, suggestions, and ideas for interview subjects you’d like to hear from. 

More TV

  • Janene Drafs KTLA

    Janene Drafs Becomes First Woman to Lead KTLA

    KTLA-TV is poised for a historic changing of the guard as Seattle station executive Janene Drafs takes the reins of the storied Los Angeles TV station as general manager following the retirement of local broadcast stalwart Don Corsini. Drafs, who is the first woman to lead KTLA, is set to begin her post as VP and [...]

  • Conductor and Composer Eímear Noone pictured

    Oscars to Feature Female Orchestra Conductor for the First Time

    A woman will be conducting at the Oscars for the first time on Sunday, Feb. 9, the Academy announced today. Irish-born composer-conductor Eímear Noone will conduct excerpts from the five nominated scores. She is the first female to lead the orchestra in the history of the televised awards, the Academy said. Details beyond that are [...]

  • Marta Kauffman Television Producer

    Marta Kauffman's Okay Goodnight, Fox 21 TV Studios Ink First-Look Deal

    Okay Goodnight, the production company helmed by “Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman alongside Robbie Rowe Tollin and Hannah KS Canter, has signed a multi-year first-look deal with Fox 21 Television Studios to create projects for linear and streaming platforms, starting with an adaptation of the novel, “The Dreamers.” “Marta Kauffman is a legend and a hero [...]

  • Actor John Karlen

    John Karlen, Actor in 'Dark Shadows' and 'Cagney & Lacey,' Dies at 86

    Emmy-winning actor John Karlen, best known for his work on the television series “Dark Shadows” and “Cagney & Lacey,” has died. He was 86. Karlen died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at a hospice in Burbank, Calif., his friend and spokesperson Jim Pierson told the Associated Press. The actor played conman and scoundrel Willie Loomis [...]

  • THE BACHELORETTE - Hannah Brown caught

    'Bachelorette' Contestant Tyler Gwozdz Dies of Suspected Overdose

    Tyler Gwozdz, a former contestant on ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” has died of a suspected drug overdose. He was 29. According to the Boca Raton Police Department, Gwozdz was hospitalized on Jan. 13 following a “medical overdose.” He later died in Florida’s Palm Beach County after spending a week in the  intensive care unit. TMZ, which first [...]

  • betty gilpin ann coulter

    'Impeachment: American Crime Story' Casts Betty Gilpin as Ann Coulter

    “GLOW” star Betty Gilpin is set to play Ann Coulter in “Impeachment: American Crime Story” at FX. News of Gilpin’s casting comes just one day after it was announced that Billy Eichner had been cast as Matt Drudge in the third season of “ACS,” which will tackle the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Beanie Feldstein will [...]

  • Jim Jefferies

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilots From Jim Jefferies, 'Superstore' Creator Justin Spitzer

    NBC has picked up a pair of comedy pilots for the 2020-2021 season. The first is the multi-cam “Jefferies,” which will star Australian comedian Jim Jefferies as a fictionalized version of himself. Jefferies will also write and executive produce along with Suzanne Martin. Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner of Hazy Mills will also executive produce [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content