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Jane Fonda gets candid about Hollywood and famous costars: 'Don't let the f---ers get you'

Jane Fonda is spilling all the tea.

In a very frank 90-minute conversation about her lengthy career as both an actress and activist at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday, Fonda, 85, did not mince words about Robert Redford, Jean-Luc Godard, the Book Club movies, Barbarella, and more.

When it came to Redford, she admitted she was "in love with him" during the making of three of the four films they starred in together, though her leading man apparently "did not like to kiss. And he's always in a bad mood, and I always thought it was my fault," she said, according to Vulture, adding, "He's a very good person. He just has an issue with women."

The two most recently worked together in 2017's Our Souls at Night, and it was a different experience for her. "What was I, about 80 years old or something like that? And I finally knew I had grown up. When he would come on the set three hours late in a bad mood, I knew it wasn't my fault," she said, noting that the two "always had a good time."

Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in 'Barefoot in the Park' (1967)
Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in 'Barefoot in the Park' (1967)

Paramount/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in 'Barefoot in the Park' (1967)


Per Deadline, Fonda spent much of the conversation offering up similarly frank thoughts about many of the men she's worked with. Of her Tout Va Bien director, Jean-Luc Godard, Fonda said, "He was a great filmmaker. I take my hat off. A great filmmaker. But as a man? I'm sorry. No, no."

She also opened up about some fonder memories throughout her career — including working with her father Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond, for which they all received Oscar nominations. Though she didn't win, her dad and Hepburn did. "It was one of the most glorious experiences of my life," Fonda recalled. "It was absolutely wonderful. I made the movie for my father. But the person who I learned from on that movie was Katharine." However, she added that she didn't think Hepburn liked her.

Touting the benefits of female friendship, Fonda said she considers her Grace and Frankie, 9 to 5, and 80 for Brady costar Lily Tomlin to be "my favorite man I've ever worked with — she is my sister, and I love her more than anything."

Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on 'Grace and Frankie'
Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on 'Grace and Frankie'

Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on 'Grace and Frankie'

Switching the focus to her list of credits, the star and activist took an honest look at some of her past and present roles. Of the campy sci-fi flick Barbarella, Fonda said she did not enjoy making it at the time, taking issue specifically with the intimate scenes. However, she learned to like the film over time, saying, "Now when I see it, I think it's fun."

As for her more recent film work, including this year's 80 for Brady and Book Club: The Next Chapter, Fonda seemed less complimentary. "I'm still amazed that people offer me movies. I'm almost 86 years old," she said. "I normally would not have wanted to make two movies in one year that have four old women in each of them: 80 for Brady, though I finally got to work with Sally [Field], who's my heroine. And in Italy, we made Book Club again. But I don't want to do that anymore. I don't know what's coming next, except that I don't want to do any more movies that don't challenge me as an actor. I want to be challenged. And I want to play something really complicated."

Fonda admitted she doesn't have anything lined up at the moment, but said she's fine with that because she's "too busy trying to fight the climate crisis."

Jane Fonda at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival
Jane Fonda at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Jane Fonda at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival

Fonda was also game to answer audience questions. At one point during the event, someone reportedly asked about how to break into the industry. "Don't let the f---ers get you!" she said. "You've got to be strong and stand up to them, but do it in a diplomatic way. You don't want to make enemies. It's all about relationships. That's the big mistake I made." She cited her The China Syndrome costar Michael Douglas as an example of someone in Hollywood who is great at building relationships. "I don't think he really likes me," she admitted, but, "He's very diplomatic."

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