Jane Fonda in Five Acts premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Now subscribers to HBO will get to see it in the privacy of their own home. Fonda herself was on a panel for the Television Critics Association to discuss her life as presented in the film.
Learn more about Jane Fonda in the documentary by Susan Lacy. Here, Fonda goes deeper into her Vietnam War protest and relationship with her father Henry. Jane Fonda in Five Acts premieres at 8 PM tonight on HBO.
Jane Fonda on the significance of the Vietnam War to her life:
“I would say that prior to my becoming an anti-war activist, I had lived an eventful life, an interesting life, but a meaningless life. I was a kind of a pretty girl who made movies and kind of hedonistic. And so when I decided to throw in my lot with the antiwar movement, everything shifted. Everything. The way I looked at the world and other people, the people I was drawn to, what interested me, everything changed. That was the big change.”
Jane Fonda on what made her get involved with Vietnam:
“Well, because I had met American soldiers in Paris and they told me what they had seen and done in Vietnam and they gave me a book to read, a book by Jonathan Schell called the The Village of Ben Suc. And prior to that experience, I had been completely uninvolved with anything. I didn’t even know where Vietnam was. And after reading that book and talking to these men, the coin shifted and I said, ‘I feel betrayed by this country’s leadership. We’ve been lied to and I want to do whatever I can to expose that.’ As it says I believe in the documentary, when I grew up, my father was in the second World War. I was so proud of that, he was so proud of that. I really thought that if we had men fighting, they were on the side of the angels and I didn’t like it when people in France who knew better than I did and who had already been fighting and lost the war in Vietnam when Vietnam was fighting for independence from colonialism. So I believed if we were there it was for a good reason. It’s kind of like the more you believe in something, if you find out that it’s totally not true, then you become a very staunch advocate on the other side. We had to end that war. And I decided I would do everything I could in my power to stop it. Not individually but as part of a movement.”
Jane Fonda on talking to Vietnam veterans:
“I like it when they come to me and it’s not positive because it’s an opportunity to talk. And you have to do that with a very open mind and a soft heart and be forgiving and understanding. So I welcome those opportunities a lot. And the ones who aren’t coming from where you’re coming from, it makes me know that they still, after all this time, haven’t learned the nature of the war and why we fought it. And that’s sad. And I’m proud that I went to Vietnam when I did, and I’m proud that the bombing of the dikes stopped. But, you know, what I say in the film is true. I’m so sorry that I was thoughtless enough to sit down on that gun at that time, and the message that that sends to the guys who were there and their families. It’s horrible for me to think about that.”
Jane Fonda on Richard Nixon talking about her:
“I wrote a memoir and I went to the archives. I knew what Nixon had said and I knew what the FBI said, I knew what the treasury people had said about me. I know that the guy that was assigned in the Justice Department to find causes for indicting me for treason and he said, ‘She didn’t commit treason, she was just trying to get the soldiers to think.’ I mean I saw all of that in the tape so I knew it. I never thought she was going to use that to open the film and when I saw it I couldn’t stop laughing, I thought it was just brilliant.”
Jane Fonda on her father:
“Dad was coming from a place of someone who saw his friends’ careers and lives destroyed because of McCarthyism, and that’s why he was afraid. He was afraid that there would be a resurgence of McCarthyism that would take me down. We came together as people who loved each other at the end, but I never had those kind of conversations. Yeah. But I feel him with me.”
Jane Fonda on acting with her father in On Golden Pond:
“I asked if I could come to his house and have dinner with him because I wanted to talk to him about what had happened to me, drying up the way I did. Anyway, there was a whole process involved with arriving at the actual scene we shot and so I told him the story and why I had touched him and I said you know, how did you feel about it and did anything like that ever happen to you? Nope. Oh, you’ve never had a [dry spell]? Nope. In other words, I could never talk to him about things like that.
Jane Fonda on the women who impacted her:
“The women that had the biggest effect on me was Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond, which I also produced. And that was really the first time that I can honestly say a woman that I worked with had a lifelong impact on me.”