Jane Fonda in 5 acts
Girl next door, sex kitten, activist, fitness tycoon: Oscar®-winner Jane Fondahas lived a life marked by controversy, tragedy and transformation, and she's done it all in the public eye. Directed and produced by award-winning documentarianSusan Lacy, Jane Fonda In Five Acts, an intimate look at her singular journey, debuts same time as the U.S. on Sept. 25 at 8 a.m. exclusively on HBO GO.
Jane Fonda has been vilified as Hanoi Jane, lusted after as Barbarella and heralded as a beacon of the women’s movement. This film goes to the heart of what she really is, a blend of deep vulnerability, magnetism, naiveté and bravery, revealing a life transformed over time.
The documentary draws on 21 hours of interviews with Fonda, who speaks candidly about her life and her missteps. She explores the pain of her mother's suicide, her father’s emotional unavailability, 30 years of an eating disorder and three marriages to highly visible, yet diametrically opposed, men. Jane Fonda In Five Actsalso includes interviews with family and friends, as well as rare home movies and verité footage of the 80-year-old Fonda’s busy life today at, as she puts it, “the beginning of my last act.”
Where “girls” of her generation were raised to be passive and compliant, Fonda has always seemed like very much “her own woman.” But her memories reveal the extent to which she was defined and controlled by the desires, ambitions, and fortunes of the powerful men in her life, and how much her own secret insecurities, unresolved anxieties and impulsive actions often prevented her from being the person she aspired to be.
Featuring interviews with Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin, producer Paula Weinsteinand former spouses Tom Haydenand Ted Turner, among others, the first four acts of Fonda’s life are named after the four men who shared – and hugely influenced – her personal and professional ambitions. The fifth act is named after Fonda herself, as she finally confronts her demons, reconnects with her family and resumes a successful career as both an actress and an activist, entirely on her own terms.
Fonda recalls growing up “in the shadow of a national monument” in the form of her father, Henry. One of the most beloved actors of his time, the elder Fonda was a distant father in private, neglecting his family and having an affair while her mother descended into mental anguish that led to tragedy.
Fonda’s name and good looks brought her modeling gigs and a chance to study acting with Lee Strasberg, but “it never felt real,” she recalls. She impulsively went to France to experience the cinematic revolution of the French New Wave, and married director Roger Vadim, agreeing to live a “heady and hedonistic” life and reluctantly allowing herself to become a sex object with films like Barbarella.
Today, still challenging herself creatively and still active politically, Jane Fonda continues to demonstrate that there is no limit to the possibilities in a life full of self-determination, honesty and hard work.