Jane Fonda: ‘Older people tend to be much less hostile, less anxious’

Film Premiere of Book Club

The new comedy Book Club opens today, and, if nothing else, the movie’s promotional tour has given us the chance to listen to the wit and wisdom of Jane Fonda. The legendary actress is 80, which I fail to believe. She looks amazing, and rocks a pantsuit like no one else I know (I covet that red one she wore to the premiere.) Jane talked with Ellen DeGeneres about the new movie and getting older. Here’s what she had to say:

I didn’t think I’d live this long. If you would have told me at 20 or 30 that I would actually still be acting, still active at 80…I would have said you’re out of your mind. Every day I get up and I want to pinch myself. I feel very blessed, but I’ve worked for it.

I wouldn’t want to go back [to my 20s] for anything.

I definitely thought I was not going to live. I thought I’d die lonely and probably from alcohol or something like that. The fact that I’m not an addict and I’m 80 and I’m working – it’s just a miracle to me.

The getting wiser part is pretty nice too. I don’t have as much ego stake in outcomes. Also if you have a whole lot of time behind you and just a little in front of you, I can look back and say ‘I survived that.’ You don’t sweat the small stuff. You don’t make mountains out of molehills.

Assuming health, older people tend to be much less hostile, less angry, less anxious, more empathic. It’s just really cool. My daughter can still press my buttons but it doesn’t stay.

[From YouTube/The Ellen Show]

During the interview, Jane shared a photo of a birthday present she received from one of her friends – 80 airplane-sized bottles of Tito’s vodka. I just turned 49 and didn’t get diddly squat. Jane jokingly admitted “I haven’t had one of them…not that I didn’t want to…I have other bottles.” Have I mentioned how much I adore this woman?

While discussing Book Club, which has gotten some pretty decent reviews, Jane noted that it’s the first time she’s worked with co-stars Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen and Diane Keaton and said that “we fell in love with each other.” And to think that Jane recently confessed to PEOPLE that the first time she ever ran into Candice in the 1960s, she wanted to push her off a ladder. She said the movie is about “friendship and sex” and emphasized the importance of women’s friendship, adding, “It’s why we live longer, frankly.” In addition to the stellar female cast, Don Johnson appears as Jane’s romantic interest in the movie. Jane told Ellen that she’s known Don since the 1970s, when he used to come to her anti-war meetings to pick up women. She said that she thinks he’s more handsome than ever now and requested that he play her beau in the movie.

In addition to the film, Jane stars on the wonderful Netflix seres Grace and Frankie, and took a moment to gush over her co-star, Lily Tomlin, saying it is a “privilege” to work with her and that “She’s cosmic. She’s a genius.” She went on to note that Book Club and her TV series share a similar message, that “Getting older as a woman doesn’t mean it’s over. We can still be multi-dimensional.” She added, “You don’t have to be afraid about getting old.” Hell, if “getting old” means I turn out like Jane, I’m perfectly okay with that.

71st annual Cannes Film Festival - Celebrity Sightings - Day 7

71st Annual Cannes Film Festival

The Film Premiere Of Paramount Pictures 'Book Club'

71st Annual Cannes Film Festival - 'BlacKkKlansman' - Premiere

Photos: WENN.com

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70 Responses to “Jane Fonda: ‘Older people tend to be much less hostile, less anxious’”

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  1. vanna says:

    I burst out laughing with that headline. Older people in my country are conservative, xenophobic curmudgeons. I feel the younger generations are way less hostile. I might give her the anxiety bit, but the rest seems far fetched to me.

    • Esmom says:

      I’m in the U.S. and I thought the exact same thing. She has likely had the benefit of therapy and has the tools to cope like so many older folks can’t. My mom has always been anxious and as she gets older it has gotten so much worse. Now, for example, she fret for a week if the weather calls for rain on a day she might have to make a short drive to the doctor. It’s extremely distressing.

      • j says:

        esmom girl…i hear this loud and clear. my moms only in her 50’s and her phobias and anxieties just grow and grow by the day…she leans on me SO HARD for emotional support. she’s scared of EVERYTHING, watches CNN all day. it’s so depressing that someone i love and look up to is going full giuliani. it’s clear i’m the mother now, and she expects me to handhold her through life and ease all her fears constantly. so i’ve been setting firm boundaries to say the least!

    • hnmmom says:

      I had the same thought. Going by my parents and their friends, they are waaaaaay more conservative, fearful and anxious. Empathy seems to go out the window as well. They become all about themselves.

    • Nicole says:

      I’m glad someone said it because I just looked at this headline like ???

    • Kitten says:

      LOL yeah I love her but she’s full of sh*t. Old people are salty AF.

      Also, Corey–the correct term for those tiny bottles is “nips”. When you said “airplane-sized bottles” I was thinking you meant bottles the size of a Boeing and I got excited because I love Tito’s. Please don’t do that to me again! ./.

    • Ladykeller says:

      Ditto. Most old people I know are racist and angry and fearful of everything. Jane has always been very liberal and she has enough money to drastically lessen her fears and anxieties. Maybe she should tour a few retirement homes and see of she still feels the same way.

    • Sammy Sushi says:


      As an aging person myself, sooo not true when menopause kicks in. Anxiety thru the roof. And so many women my age on benzodiazepines.

      Pffft, Jane you and Angelina Joliet need to knock off this aging is amazing schtick

    • Sojaschnitzel says:

      Greetings from germany, same thing here. Unrelated: I LOVE the silver dress. Want.

  2. duchess of hazard says:

    You wish. I have a whole round of gammons here in Brexit Britain to show you differently. I can’t trust anyone over fifty at the minute, tbh.

  3. HK9 says:

    Older people less anxious & hostile? Tell that to Thomas Markle. I still love Jane Fonda tho.

  4. Darla says:

    Yeah I don’t agree with this. I find older people to be extremely hostile. I dunno if that’s because they sit in front of FOX news all day and have been driven into a state of high anxiety, fear, and anger. I really don’t know.

    • Argonaut says:

      exactly, very anxious and hostile about losing their place in the world now that it’s changing. but instead of adapting with the times they’d rather dig in their heels and demand they get their way. clearly jane doesn’t run in those circles but in the age of trump it’s untrue to claim that. fox news and just local tv and print news too (even in my liberal city) are just fear mongering for boomers and elderly.

  5. Lala says:

    Ooooh….Jane…No Darling…no…in fact…that is the ONE thing I guard against as I passed the half-century mark…to make SURE I don’t do what basically EVERY SENIOR CITIZEN I KNOW HAVE DONE…Which is to be really, kinda…awful…I’m not gonna be that Hippie from the 60s…that turned into a Buckley Conservative in the 80s…I WILL NOT DO IT!!!!!!!!

    • Natalia says:

      Hear, hear @Lala. I’m older and have mellowed but too many of my contemporaries have not. I think where you live matters too. Just moved to a rural setting… so much more peaceful out here.

      Too many old people give in to the aches and pains of growing older. We all have to decide to be happy no matter what, because life is challenging right up until the end.

      • Mrs. WelenMelon says:

        May young people pay attention, work for viable candidates, vote in 2020. Young people, don’t sit it out like 2016.

        Yes, that’s a big generalization based on polling data. Doesn’t describe you? The reality is much more subtle?

        Same is true for each generation.

        Jane Fonda is wrong to lump older people together. Some (relatives of commenters in this thread, for instance) become more rigid and bitter. Others (see the blog Advanced Style) become freer.

        It all depends.

        See you at the polls next time?

    • Cynical Ann says:

      My 84 year old father asked for an Obama baseball cap for Christmas because he said he didn’t want anyone looking at him and mistaking him for an “old white pro-Trump guy.”

  6. BaBaDook says:

    Yeah, I’m campaigning for reproductive rights here in Ireland and let me tell you, older people are PLENTY hostile. You would not believe some of the crap that has been said to me recently.

    • duchess of hazard says:

      @BaBaDook – strength! I hope the right for women to have abortions wins.

    • Mad Hatter says:

      We should start a support group BaBaDook! I’m fighting for reproductive rights in Kentucky and it is only a matter of time before they burn me at the stake. People are constantly threatening sexual violence against me and calling me a wh*re. Anyway you are not alone. I’ve got your back!

      • BaBaDook says:

        What’s that quote again? “We are the granddaughters of the witches you could not burn” – OR if you ask the people we’re fighting against we’re wh*res, baby murderers, evil b*tches etc.

        I’m with you too Mad Hatter – it’s not easy out there. ♥

    • Kitten says:

      You women are my heroes. Seriously, thanks for fighting the good fight. ♥

      • BaBaDook says:

        ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

        Seriously, it’s been a very stressful few weeks coming up to our abortion rights ref here – so THANK YOU!

    • Mrs. WelenMelon says:

      Babadook, you’re doing good work.

      My DH, like some older people, has lost part of his filter. It’s sort of like Sophia on ” Golden Girls”. He blurts stuff out. Thankfully, he isn’t mean or angry. it always catches people off guard and he doesn’t mean to do that. It’s one of the ways growing older has changed him.

    • tracking says:

      All the best to you and your brave compatriots, Babadook!

  7. Beer&Crumpets says:

    Yeah…. for the most part, that has not been my experience at all. With the older demographic, I mean. Assholes of all ages abound. The asshole demographic is such a random sampling of all ages, all races, all genders, religions, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, levels of education… you get my point. The only common denominator I’ve been able to figure out in my limited interactions is their assholery. If we knew what makes an asshole be such an asshole, maybe Science could develop a vaccine.

    • Sophia's side eye says:

      Fear. JMO, but some people succumb to their fear, especially as they get older. I know (health willing 🤞🏼) that I’ll spend the rest of my life learning rather than thinking I’ll ever get to a place where I know everything.

  8. byandby says:

    I completely disagree. Older people lose their tempers much faster and are very easily agitated, in my experience,. I think it’s a mix of entitlement by way of age, which I can’t completely argue with, and just a lifetime of dealing with…well, life, and having nothing to lose.

    Sadly maybe also a bit of fear-based lashing out at a world that changes quickly around them and leaves them out.

  9. Jayna says:

    Dream on, Jane.

  10. BeeBop says:

    I agree with the hostility part. I’m 33 years-old and sometimes it gets old being friends with people my age, who seem to be highly competitive and comparing their lives to others’ careers, homes, vacations, etc. Many of my friends are in their 60s and older because I find the interactions more authentic. When an older person asks what I do, they are asking what I do, not how I can afford to live where I live, etc.

  11. Felicia says:

    If she’s talkng about ego-driven hostility, which is how I took this, then yes. There are a multitude of things I would have responded to in my 20’s and 30’s, generally provoked by someone trying to “establish a hierarchy” where they are attempting to put you beneath them. That’s an ego thing on both parts. I’m now in my mid-50’s and generally don’t GAF. At some point you realize that those people are functioning from a place of insecurity and that’s why they do that. And you really don’t need to play in their game.

    Ideological, be it political or religious hostility, is a whole different story. It seems that that gets more entrenched with age.

    • Beer&Crumpets says:

      “If she’s talkng about ego-driven hostility, which is how I took this, then yes. There are a multitude of things I would have responded to in my 20′s and 30′s, generally provoked by someone trying to “establish a hierarchy” where they are attempting to put you beneath them.”

      Okay, I *do* agree with you here. My temper has a much longer fuse now that I’m on my 40s than when I was in my 20s. What I don’t really understand is why so many older people say stuff like “I’m old enough to say/do whatever I want!” Like there’s the implied rest of that sentence, which is ‘and you all just have to take it’. Because… I mean the first part is true, I guess, and could apply to anyone regardless of age. The implied part, though… not so much. I don’t care if you’re 18, 28, or 608 years old- if you opt out of the social contract that is basic manners, you’re giving me permission to opt out of it too in regard to you.

      • Felicia says:

        “I don’t care if you’re 18, 28, or 608 years old- if you opt out of the social contract that is basic manners, you’re giving me permission to opt out of it too in regard to you.”

        Completely agree with this. That said, I’ve gotten much better over the years at keeping my cool in these sorts of situations, while handing it right back at them, politely of course. 😉 I’ve come to realize that the only opinions that matter to me are those of people I respect.

    • Kitten says:

      I completely agree with what you say here and if Jane had worded it similarly, I think we would all be in agreement.

      • Felicia says:

        One thing I have noticed is that retirement can bring out the worst in some people. I suppose that’s maybe a function of those people having self-identified with their position/job title and find themselves afloat when they no longer have that. Then, in some twisted effort to make themselves relevant, they turn into problem causing *ssholes.

  12. Shelly says:

    I wish this was my experience but our family members in their 70’s and 80’s do nothing but watch FOX News and get angry, bitter, paranoid and hostile and more racist. I can’t even go to my local market on Senior Citizens Discount day, one 80ish man yelled at me because I was “walking too fast” in the parking lot, not even close to him! Maybe Jane is in a better frame of mind now but very few 80 year olds I know seem happy.

  13. Christina S. says:

    This is a joke right? It’s the baby boomers, the older people who are the source of much of the hatred and intolerance our country deals with. When they all die off we can finally progress as a country.

    • joanne says:

      the baby boomers are also the source of the civil rights movement, the anti-war protests and the fight for women’s right. you cannot generalize about any generation. you seem to have quite a lot of hostility towards seniors if you believe they are preventing the country from progressing. hatred and intolerance have been around long before the baby boomers and will still be around when you are a senior. it would be wonderful if you could get rid of hatred and intolerance, but this is reality not Utopia.

      • Argonaut says:

        to talk about the present, joanne, and not the past, i see how baby boomers are preventing my city from progressing by clinging to their single family home zoning and single occupancy vehicles. they refuse to build new housing where it is desperately needed, especially apartments (poor people might live there!), they want to be able to park right in front of where they’re going without having to walk a block. they demand subsidized parking in dense urban areas. they fight any public transit improvements that benefit everyone but may inconvenience them on an individual level, HATE bike lanes, and are in general total NIMBYs. they actively fight to prevent any change necessary as a city grows, even if the changes won’t go into effect for 25 years when they will likely be dead anyway.

        if you follow local politics you can see this in most cities right now. go to some local meetings about zoning or planned developments and see who is fighting progress. 99% of the time it’s older white homeowners. that doesn’t mean ALL boomers are like that – but if someone IS like that, they’re more likely to be a boomer who is white and owns a home and wants to preserve the status quo because it still works for THEM. it’s exhausting.

      • Jerusha says:

        Yes, so much hostility from the young’uns here. I’m 73, was involved in all those movements you mention. I’m not hostile, not anxious, still have the same ultra liberal values I had at 16, at 25, at 38, at 45. Still involved politically, was one of the worker bees who helped defeat Roy Moore. There are good and bad in all generations, always have been. Don’t paint with such a broad brush, please.

    • Natalia says:

      @Christina S.

      Well I’m a Boomer and I’ve been saying that about my next older generation for decades. It’s not just SOME of us (boomers).

      @Joanne: +1

    • minx says:

      Boomer here, each generation has its good and bad members.

  14. DP says:


  15. Veronica S. says:

    Hostility driven by insecurity, yes. Hostility in general…not so much. A lot of older people don’t adjust well to social change. One only has to look at the voting demographics from 2016 to see how the break down comes out politically.

  16. Skippy says:

    I was a teenager during the 60s and I live in Senior housing. Quite a number of my neighbors have mental health issues and get quite anxious, stressed and even violent. The rest are cool, relaxed and smoking weed-legal here in CA. Some are in poor physical health and of course, some have died. I have some very racist Trump fans here, lots of Liberals and a few Radicals like me.
    So, I think Jane is rather generalizing here. Seniors run the full spectrum just like anyone else. It has been my impression that Jane has usually struck me as a tense person. I expect that must come from her family history and she has made some poor choices personally and her 60s politics were shallow in my opinion anyway.

    • Let It Be says:

      Aging isn’t for sissies. It takes determination to eat well, exercise, stay open minded and not settle into a generalized grumpiness tinged with fear.

      I met Jane in the 70’s and yes, she seemed pretty brittle. The challenges she faced growing up with a mentally ill mother and extremely difficult father of course shaped her. She’s gotten plenty of things wrong in her life, but I doubt we’ll see her sink into a grumpy, self pitying old crab.

  17. minx says:

    I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say that her statement was a clumsy generalization. SHE may feel that way, because she’s wealthy, healthy and sounds happy.

  18. Other Renee says:

    Jane is a tad out of touch. And not for the first time. When she was married to Tom Hayden she came to speak at my university. The purpose was to convince us to live in these eco friendly homes that she was hawking. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember how underwhelmed we all were. We ranged from ages 18-22 and weren’t exactly ready for home ownership. And there was a general feeling of “Why don’t YOU go live in one of those little houses instead of the mansion you’re probably living in?” We all left with a sense of WTF was that all about!

    • Natalia says:

      To be fair, she DID drive around L.A. in a “Rent-A-Wreck” back in the 70’s when it was cool for celebrities to do so. Not on the same level as a mansion but she still did it.

  19. Muprhy says:

    IMO Holland Taylor does it better.

  20. Nic919 says:

    She is right and she is wrong. I think older people who have learned to go with the flow and accept change are indeed much less fussed about things and focus on what is important. However some older people who hate change and fight it every step of the way become more miserable because they haven’t accepted that you can’t control everything in life. It really all depends on how well adjusted they are.

  21. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Where does she live that older people are less hostile and anxious??? Oh right. La la Land. Old ass geezers are the worst. They crave the past. They’re pissed and bitter about current affairs. And they spread hate and anger. As a middle-age female, I have been fighting those that came before me my entire life, and I’ll be damned if I go out that way. I have simmered considerably, and prefer inner eyerolls to commentary. There is no changing stupid, and seniors today come from various stages of our past where the quite and introspective are sadly suffocating beneath loud incredulity. The boisterous is the bewildered — maturation worsened the afflicted. When you come across even-tempered, kind and generous seniors, they’re the ones who get life. The noisy rest most likely scoop assface’s lawn after he’s done his business.

  22. Nancypants says:

    I’m older now and I JOKE that pretty soon, I’m going to move to the retirement community and get a little dog named Toto and sit on the porch with Toto and an AR 15 and yell at kids to get off my lawn BUT IT’S A JOKE.

    My bitter mom -on the other hand- always said she was just going to say and do whatever she wanted when she got old and I told her, “Go ahead but you’re going to be lonely because no one is going to put up with that.”

    I love Grace and Frankie.
    I’ve looked but I can’t find where Jane gets her wigs and I’m sure they are wigs.
    I don’t need one now but maybe someday.

  23. Pandabird says:

    I’m turning 30 this year. I almost died at 22 due to a medical emergency. I feel bless to be able to celebrate a birthday every year. I try not to stress about aging; it’s part of life that no amount of money can prevent. I hope to live until 80+!

    • Nancypants says:

      Bless your heart.
      My older sister developed breast cancer (?) at 26 and died at 30.
      When people complain about getting older, I think of her and say, “The alternative is worse.”
      Be well.

      • Pandabird says:

        @NANCYPANTS, thank you. I’m so sorry about your loss. Life can be so short and unfair 🙁

  24. bella says:

    Love Jane Fonda, but to all the people talking about older people being bitter, it sounds like ageism. I am older than a lot of my friends and I think being hostile and intolerant doesn’t have an age. Just try being nice and kind to everyone no matter what!

  25. tealily says:

    I love Grace and Frankie! I can’t wait for another season. Thinking about rewatching them.

  26. Ocjulia says:

    She’s obviously never worked in health care.

  27. Lala says:

    I do KNOW one of the culprits in old age is chronic pain and inflammation….I have personally seen too many times what that does to older people’s personalities when there is no escaping horrible constant pain!!!! That’s why I’m getting my yoga and fitness on…and I’m sure that’s why Jane said what she did…she’s put EVERYTHING into her body for decades and she is reaping the benefits!

  28. M says:

    Wow. So many ageist comments in one place. So sexism is bad, racism is bad, xenophobia is bad, but making these kinds of generalizations about entire age groups or a demographic segment of the human population is ok? The overwhelming sentiment on this thread is pretty appalling.

    • Marianne says:

      @ M
      Missed your comment when i made mine. Agreed.

      And in fact, what Jane might be referring to that anxiety and unhappiness peak in middle age. It’s lowest in the young and old. One theory is that perhaps as people age, there is growing acceptance and peace with how their lives turned out. Life satisfaction grows higher.

      As for the “bitterness” that people are claiming for the elderly, as if they are some monolithic group all the same, I think it’s being projected on them. I can believe that some people become more plain spoken as they age. (I’m looking forward to that luxury myself!) In other contexts that has been called having no more f—s to give. Why should that be labelled bitterness simply because the person is older?

    • Marianne says:

      @ M
      Missed your comment when i made mine. Agreed.

      And in fact, what Jane might be referring to is that anxiety and unhappiness peak in middle age. It’s lower in the young and old. One theory is that perhaps as people age, there is growing acceptance and peace with how their lives turned out. Life satisfaction grows higher.

      As for the “bitterness” that people are claiming for the elderly, as if they are some monolithic group all the same, I think it’s being projected on them. I can believe that some people become more plain spoken as they age. (I’m looking forward to that luxury myself!) In other contexts that has been called having no more f—s to give. Why should that be labelled bitterness simply because the person is older?

  29. Marianne says:

    Wow, there’s some straight out naked ageism in the comments here. Disappointing.