Love, Life, Sex Get Better with Age

Hollywood has its share of legends, but no star has been able to keep surprising us the way Jane Fonda has. She has gone from powerful Academy Award–winning film performances in “Klute” and “Coming Home to headline-making political activism, to an exercise video that changed the face of fitness, to best-selling author of a memoir. Her latest achievement: another exercise video, this one on yoga

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
jane fonda image
Photograph: Firooz Zahedi

More: You took a 15-year break from the industry and then returned with a hilarious film called Monster-in-Law. What made you come back to the big screen after a long hiatus?
JF: I left because—and it wasn’t because of Ted Turner, although I couldn’t be working and married to him at the same time because he is 24/7—I found that I was not enjoying acting anymore. I was really unhappy as a woman, and when I am really unhappy, I find it difficult to be creative. It was agony for me, and I could see it on my face when I looked at the last movies I made. I said to myself, I am going to leave Hollywood, be a full-time activist and move to New Mexico. Then I met Ted and didn’t have to move to New Mexico because he bought it [laughs]. I was with Ted for 10 years, and then in 2000 we split and I began to write my memoirs. After four years of writing, I realized I was a different person. Then I thought to myself, I think I could find pleasure again in working. Along came the script for Monster-in-Law, which was a blast to make and made me laugh. I have been acting ever since. 

More: Another film you will be appearing in is The Butler, as Nancy Reagan.
JF: Robin Williams plays Truman, John Cusack plays Nixon, Alan Rickman plays Reagan and I play Nancy Reagan. They are all cameos. The main meat of the movie is the butler, played by Forest Whitaker, and his wife, played by Oprah. I had two days of work, and it was a lot of fun. I am happy to say that Nancy Reagan liked the fact I was playing her. I was pretty impressed with her involvement as first lady, and I think I even got to look like her.

More: Fans can find you on the small screen too. You’re in the hit cable series The Newsroom.
JF: I am loving it, loving it, loving it! I was just at work yesterday. Wrapping your mouth around Aaron Sorkin’s words is so much fun. All of the actors are just so nice and great to work with, and Aaron is just so talented.

More: Do you find there are more roles in television than in movies?
JF: Television is the place to go if you want great writing, edgy stuff and more outside the box.

More: You are also a best-selling author. Your last book, which came out in 2011, was called Prime Time: Love, Health, Sex, Fitness, Friendship, Spirit—Making the Most of All of Your Life. Why put it all out there?
JF: It changed my life. When I went down deep, I discovered not only do I love to write, but I write well. What was also gratifying to see was how well people responded. I then went to my publisher and said I wanted to write a book for adolescents on sexuality, and I did.

More: That’s interesting.
JF: There are two books actually, and they will be out in 2014. One is for middle school, and the other for high school. But before I did that, my publisher wanted me to write a book based on my third act. So I made a list of all the things I wanted to know about aging. That book took me three years to write, because I traveled and did tons of research.


More: You are now an advice expert.
JF: I know—that’s great, huh? I recently met somebody who told me she gave the book to scores of women and they all read it and follow my advice.

More: Did you learn something new about yourself through all these writing projects?
JF: Always. You have to dig down and be prepared to share what you have inside.

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