Jane Fonda: ‘Up until my 60s I was defined by the men in my life. I wanted to please’

Jane Fonda is covering People Magazine this week because there’s a new documentary about her life coming to HBO. It’s called Jane Fonda in Five Acts. Four of the five acts are about the men in Fonda’s life, which was a structural choice made by the filmmaker, Susan Lacy (American Masters, Spielberg.) Fonda told People’s Jess Cagle that she’s ok with that.

I didn’t know what she was going to do [with the interviews and footage]. It took me completely by surprise that she did it in five acts and I completely understand why. As I talk about in my book, up until my 60s I was to a large extent defined by the men in my life. I was brought up to please. I wanted my father to love me and so I would turn myself into a pretzel to be what he wanted me to be. It just took me a long time to get over it. We don’t get to chose our parents. There are issues and there are wounds and there are handicaps. You spend the rest of your life trying to get over them. It took me into my 60s and then I began to come who I was supposed to be all along.

[From video on People]

She put that so well. I like to think that I don’t do this anymore now that I’m in my 40s but I know exactly what she means. I love covering her interviews because she’s just so full of wisdom and she’s fearless now.

Fonda is one of those people who can explain and apologize for things multiple times and still get called out for them. (i.e. a woman.) I’m referring to her activism during Vietnam and the fact that she had plastic surgery, admitted to it in many interviews, and still got put on the spot by that hack Megyn Kelly in a joint interview with Robert Redford. (Then Kelly got mad that she got called out for her sh-tty interview skills and attacked Fonda for her decades old activism.) Anyway in her documentary she talks about her plastic surgery and she says the same thing that we’ve heard from her for years, that she’s not proud of it but that she wanted a change.

“I’m glad I look good for my age, but I’ve had plastic surgery,” she says in a new HBO documentary about her life, titled Jane Fonda in Five Acts. “I’m not going to lie about that.”

Fonda has been open in the past about why she got work done on her eyes and jawline. “I got tired of looking tired when I wasn’t,” she’s said. Still, in the documentary, she admits she feels bad about wanting to do it.

“On one level, I hate the fact that I’ve had the need to alter myself physically to feel that I’m OK,” she says. “I wish I wasn’t like that. I love older faces. I love lived-in faces. I loved Vanessa Redgrave’s face.”

She adds, “I wish I was braver. But I am what I am.”

As far as how she also keeps her incredible figure, Fonda, a fan of pilates, says she still works out. “Just more slowly now,” she’s said.

[From People]

People has more, including the sad story of Fonda losing her mother to suicide. Jane was just 12 years old when her dad told her her mom passed from a heart attack. She learned it was suicide by reading a magazine. Jane told Jess Cagle “As a child, you always think it was your fault… It takes a long time to get over the guilt.” She said she’s since read her mother’s medical records and understands, forgives and has “tremendous empathy” for her. I really want to see Jane’s documentary. Even if we’ve heard some of these stories from her before, I want to hear them again. Ooh and I can get Book Club on Redbox. I know what I’m doing this weekend.

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13 Responses to “Jane Fonda: ‘Up until my 60s I was defined by the men in my life. I wanted to please’”

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  1. Lala11_7 says:

    I got into Hollywood, when I was a child…devouring old movies and reading autobiographies regarding the artists that performed in those movies…and I read one decades ago…called “Haywire” which was written by Brooke Haywood…who grew up with the Fonda children and she is BFF with Jane…and her younger brother was BFF with Peter…and Brooke’s parents, actress Margaret Sullavan and impresario Leland Haywood were best friends with the Fondas…in fact, Margaret was in a relationship with Henry Fonda before she married Leland…more than a little scandalous…and in “Haywire” you get a LOT of Jane and Peter in there as all the children were always together…and you get the picture that Henry Fonda was a VERY difficult man to know…and love…and even though Jane always came off tough as heyll…she TRULY wasn’t that way at all…as she stated…she let men dominate her…which TRULY doesn’t match her outward public persona!

    • Keaton says:

      Oh I remember “Haywire” I read that years ago as well. I think Henry was actually MARRIED to Maragret before she married Leland Hayward. That makes the closeness between the two families even more interesting. lol. And yes I agree with your impression of Henry. Very closed off man and very difficult to know. As for Jane, I heard a story about how Tom Hayden didn’t “allow” her to have a dishwasher (presumably because he wanted them to live a more middle class life). It rubbed me the wrong way but totally reinforces the idea Jane did indeed allow men to define her. SMH>

      • holly hobby says:

        The reason why Jane did all those work out videos was because the profits were used to get Tom into the CA Assembly. I always thought she was better than all her husbands.

  2. Astrid says:

    She’s a national treasure. She spoke her mind years ago about a “war” that wasn’t considered a war at the time and she’s been up front about her surgeries. I admire her moxie

    • bears says:

      I’ve always thought she was a very courageous person. My mother hated her – the earliest memory I have of Jane Fonda is being a child, having no real idea who she was, and hearing my mother say nasty things about her because of what she did during the war. My mother equates her with the people who would yell “baby killer” at soldiers when they came home from the war. Even then, I remember asking what she did that was so wrong, hearing my mother’s explanation, and thinking to myself that she must have been a really brave person who cared very much about her protest in order to accept so much hate from people as a consequence of it.

  3. anniefannie says:

    She looks fantastic! God I wish I had her Dr on speed dial! She has always looked like the absolute best version of herself which is exactly what plastic surgery should do, but rarely does….

  4. Agenbiter says:

    Then why let them use a cover shot that looks like you’re hiding your jawline behind a napkin??


    • Who ARE These People? says:

      We see the other side of her jawline fine. She’s not hiding – it’s more likely they enlarged or enhanced that white area to allow for the large “display type” of the headline; it shows up well against the white backdrop. If she wanted to hide the signs of aging on only one side of her jawline, she would ask for Photoshop. C’mon, they’ve probably Photoshopped a number of things anyway, as they do for cover photos taken at any age. It’s not her.

      Signed, A professional Editor

      • Agenbiter says:

        I appreciate the idea, having done layout and pasteup myself (do they still call it that : ) ? )

        And I’m not thinking she’s the one who asked to be hidden, but a more straightforward pose would have been nice to go with the ‘her own woman’ theme.

  5. Jerusha says:

    With Vadim she was the sex kitten, with Hayden the firebrand rebel and with Turner the perfect homemaker, all roles she played. She’s finally her own woman and it looks good on her. Brava, Jane!

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      She’s so bright and so articulate about women’s lives. I’ve enjoyed and benefited from several of her books – as has my elderly mother!

  6. VeronicaLodge says:

    I like Jane Fonda’s persona and I want to like her…she’s great in so many ways, especially her experiences with plastic surgery…I’ve had some Botox and a lift here and there. She has been awful. I live in Montana, went to a nice restaurant, she and Ted were told they were on a wait list. She pulled the “Dont you know who I am?”