Jane Fonda Talks About Being a Fashion Icon

In a candid Screen Test interview with Editor at Large Lynn Hirschberg, W’s June/ July 2015 issue cover star reveals what it’s like to be a style icon at 77 (“It’s weird”), how Katharine Hepburn was her mentor, and why she finds Robert Redford’s “good values” sexy.

Released on 5/19/2015

Credits

Starring: Jane Fonda
Featuring: Lynn Hirschberg

Transcript

00:04
I never wanted to be an actor.
00:05
I think probably because my Dad never seemed
00:08
to enjoy it, although I know he did.
00:10
I know that he loved acting, but he never
00:13
seemed to bring joy home with him.
00:15
I didn't grow up seeing myself as an actor.
00:18
I didn't see myself as being pretty enough or talented.
00:22
I was very, very shy.
00:24
I really became an actor by default
00:25
when I was about 20 years old.
00:27
I had to get a job, and I was a friend
00:29
of Susan Strasberg, Lee Strasberg's daughter.
00:33
I said, I've gotta get a job because I have
00:35
to move out of my father's house
00:36
and get my own apartment, and she said,
00:38
well, why don't you meet my Dad and talk
00:40
to him about being in his private classes?
00:42
So I did.
00:43
I went and I met him.
00:44
I used to sit in the back of the room
00:46
next to Marilyn Monroe, and both of us
00:48
were too scared to ever volunteer
00:50
to go on the stage and do a scene,
00:52
but eventually I did, and he told me I was talented.
00:56
It was just, I guess I was waiting for someone
00:58
to tell me that I had talent because the minute
01:01
that those words came out of his mouth,
01:03
that was what I wanted to do for my rest of my life.
01:07
Barbarella was a French comic book.
01:09
I'd been married to a French film director
01:11
named Roger Vadim for seven years
01:14
when Dino De Laurentiis offered me the part.
01:19
Brigitte Bardot, Vadim's first wife, had turned it down.
01:22
I think Sophia Loren turned it down.
01:25
So I was kinda the fallback choice.
01:28
I guess it had an effect on how people perceived me.
01:30
It certainly didn't have much of an effect on me
01:33
because I promptly left my husband
01:35
and my life in France, and moved back
01:37
to the United States, and became an anti-war activist.
01:40
The only way that Barbarella affected me was
01:42
sometimes I would go to a rally, and there'd be a banner
01:45
that said, come hear Barbarella speak.
01:47
The first movie that really had an impact
01:49
on my life was They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
01:51
It was the first time that I made a movie
01:53
that was a reflection of American society
01:56
in a way that was relevant to that time.
01:58
It was 1968, and even though it was
02:02
about the Depression Era, it was based
02:05
on an existential novel, but it was about something.
02:09
The night that I won my first Academy Award,
02:11
I had 102 degree fever, and I sort of
02:14
thought I was gonna win.
02:15
I mean, everyone said, you're gonna win.
02:18
I remember when they called my name, and I went up there,
02:21
and I said, there's a lot I'd like to say,
02:24
but now isn't the time.
02:25
It was like I could hear,
02:26
(sighing)
02:27
oh, thank God, thank God she didn't make a speech
02:30
about war, and peace, and everything.
02:32
And then I walked offstage and walked
02:34
into a corner and cried.
02:36
It didn't seem right to me that I won
02:39
an Academy Award before my father, with his amazing career,
02:43
and I'm so grateful that he eventually,
02:45
before he died, won an Oscar in On Golden Pond,
02:49
which is a movie that I produced
02:51
so that I could act with him before it was over.
02:55
Katharine Hepburn is a perfect example
02:57
of what an elder should be.
02:59
She took her role as elder stateswoman very seriously.
03:03
She mentored me.
03:05
I think the one that's most pertinent was
03:09
when she came up behind me, I was looking
03:11
in a mirror, combing my hair getting ready for a scene,
03:14
and she came up behind me, and she went like this.
03:16
What do you want this to say about you?
03:19
And I didn't know what she was talking about.
03:21
And she said, this is your container.
03:23
How do you want that to represent you in the world?
03:26
And what she was saying is, you need
03:29
to think more about your presentation.
03:33
How do you want yourself seen in the world?
03:35
Because, at the time, I didn't give it a fare-thee-well,
03:40
not the way I looked, not my hair,
03:42
not my makeup, not my clothes.
03:44
And it made her mad that I didn't.
03:47
And it took me a very long time
03:49
to make peace with the need to present myself.
03:53
It's weird, at my age, that people think
03:57
that I dress well, and that I look good.
04:00
I mean, I think it's kind of neat
04:02
that I'm in my 70s before somebody says,
04:05
oh, she's great on the red carpet, and she's a fashion icon.
04:09
Moi?
04:10
I hardly think so, but I've learned to fake it.
04:13
(laughing)
04:14
Fooled them again.