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June 13, 2013 | My Blog

UPDATES POST CANNES

That's our director, Shawn Levy, in the middle with me and Tina Fey

Seems strange that I’ve done so little blogging but filming has required exceptionally long hours, plus last week I flew to Los Angeles to film the final episode of The Newsroom, 2nd season.

First, about the movie, “This Is Where I Leave You.” Turns out a lot of people have read and loved the novel by Jonathan Tropper. I think the script is even better, also written by Mr Tropper, seen here between Ben Schwartz, who plays the Rabbi, and my BFF, Paula Weinstein, the film’s executive producer. It is she who bought the novel years ago and has been developing it at Warner Brothers. I never dreamed I’d end up playing the mother in this story.

Ben Schwartz is hysterical. He was in a movie I did last year (well, I narrated it and appear in the final scene), “Better Living Through Chemistry,” but I’d never met him. He started out in UCB (Upright Citizens’ Brigade, a school for improv that Amy Poehler founded) and has gone on to write jokes for the likes of Letterman and Leno, movies for major studios plus being in many movies. I was very glad to learn all this about him cause until then I thought he was a normal actor with some abnormal ability to improv and that only added to my sense of total inadequacy in the humor department. Now I realize that’s what he does. Bad enough to be alongside Tina Fey and Jason Bateman. He has inspired me to attend some of the session of UCB out in L.A. He says they have nights when known actors get on stage with less known but experienced improvers and see what happens. I like this sort of challenge and think it will be good for me . . if it doesn’t shred what’s left of my confidence. He said Helen Hunt did it. If she’s willing to do it, why not me?

Corey Stoll plays one of my sons and I’m so impressed by his talent that I have gone on Netflix and watched all of “House of Cards.” That’s another reason I haven’t blogged. Whew is he gifted . . . and genuinely nice. He also played Ernest Hemingway in “Midnight in Paris.” House of Cards, BTW, is superb. Can’t wait till next season.

Then there’s Jason Bateman who has motivated me to also go on Netflix to watch all the old (and new) “Arrested Developments.” I’d been told many times how funny and original that series is and I happened to catch a couple of the oldies one night and now I’m hooked. Jason, by the way, is not only a serious talent–funny and touching–but he has directed his first movie and I guarantee you, it won’t be his last. It’s so clear he’s meant to do that. One day while all of us actors were waiting upstairs for the camera crew to light the scene, Jason said, “We’re all sitting up here, but the movie-making is going on downstairs.” He’s got the requisite interest in camera angles, eye-lines, where the cuts should come, what lens is being used. Not me. I understand why these things make or break a movie and appreciate when they’re executed skillfully, but it’s not where my interest lies. I’d rather read a book (or write one) while I wait to act.

Then there’s Tina Fey. Everyone has seen Tina in one incarnation or another. Deep talent, deep humor. She just floors me. Funny stuff comes out of her mouth so effortlessly in response to some mundane remark someone makes. Nothing changes on her face when she lets loose with these one-liners. I ask myself, could I, in a million years, have thought to say that right then? Why not? Then I try to imagine what shape my brain would have to be to come up with those lines and I realize I’m just not that kind of funny person. I’m my father’s daughter. He did brilliant comedies like Preston Sturges’ “All About Eve” opposite Barbara Stanwyk, and others. And I’ve done plenty of comedies, “Barefoot In The Park” was one style and “Monster-In-Law” is another style. But what Tina and Jason and Ben do is different and fascinating to me. This is the first time I’ve seen this up close and personal. And with all that gift, Tina, off camera, is quite shy and I get shy around her. We both admitted that to each other the other night right before we did our last shot together, in bed, at 1am.

Then there’s Adam Driver, another of my sons. Maybe you’ve seen him on “Girls” and thus already understand how original and uniquely gifted he is. Our director, Shawn Levy, wanted Adam so much we all had to agree to work on weekends with Thursdays and Fridays off to accommodate Adam’s schedule on “Girls.” As I said in my last blog, he is in the new Coen brothers film, is in “Frances Ha,” played the postmaster in “Lincoln.” It was such a pleasure to watch him work and talk to him, though he is quite shy (which you’d never know from his acting). After 9/11 he joined the Marines and was at Camp Pendleton about to be shipped to Iraq, but he broke his coccyx and couldn’t go. After that he studied at Julliard but has remained very close to his military experience and formed a non-profit called Arts in the Armed Forces which has professional actors perform for the military. Check out his web site: AITAF.com

I had the great good fortune to work with Debra Monk, a splendid actor and writer. She is the first woman I’ve ever kissed on screen and I was her first screen kiss–of either gender. It was fun and touching and her lips were soft. She and I spent a fun day-off with Huey Lewis (as in Huey Lewis & The News) and Jim Carey. I took them down to Jim’s studio in the Village where he paints huge canvases. He calls his studio The Church of No Concerns.

That’s him painting:

Here’s one of his that I love. I can’t remember it’s title but it’s about being seen–or not. A lot of his works are about being seen and identity.

Connie Britton plays Adam Driver’s fiancee and we’ve become friends. Maybe you’ve seen her in the fantastic “Friday Night Lights” and “Nashville.” Kathryn Hahn plays Corey Stoll’s wife and is such a gifted comedian and a joy to have on set because she is so funny and positive.

In other words, you’d be hard pressed to find a better cast! We’ve mostly been filming out in Manhasset, Long Island, about 45 min outside the city . . . sometimes 2 hours depending on traffic. Here is our crew setting up outside the house which is mine in the film.

Here are Corey, Jason and Adam (standing in the plaid shirt), rehearsing a fight they have on the front lawn

Here’s me as Hilary, waiting with Tulea, sleeping. Not in a very comic mood at the moment.

Here is Adam, Corey, Tina, and Jason, my children

Over Memorial Day weekend and for my grandson’s birthday, Vanessa and her family came up to visit. While they were here, my daughter, who has become ordained as someone who can perform marriages (and funerals, I suppose), married Rob Thielemann (left) and Patrick Garver, in Central Park

After the wedding, we had a picnic and gathered several new friends.

I don’t know their names but they were very nice.

Last week, I finished filming early on Wednesday and flew to L.A. where I shot the final scene in “The Newsroom” 2nd season on Thursday (finishing at 1am) and flew back to NY to shoot a big scene on Saturday. Whew! But let me tell you, it was worth it. Aaron Sorkin wrote the greatest, most unexpected scenes. My character, the stern, formidable Leona Lansing, gets high–not once but twice. What a hoot to play. And I got to actually film in the newsroom itself. She’s never been in there thus far.

My scenes were with Sam Waterson, Marcia Gay Hardin and Chris Messina, who plays my son. Here we are. Marcia Gay had recent foot surgery so wore slippers when she wasn’t shooting:

Here’s Marcia Gay with Chris Messina and, in the blue shirt, our director, Alan Poul

The actor between us played a Rockette who’s dating my son, Chris Messina.

Here’s Alan Poul talking to Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer

And here is the one and only Aaron Sorkin with Marcia Gay. Ain’t he handsome!

The film cast is gathering for a dinner tonight in Harlem and Monday is my last day. Tuesday I fly back to Los Angeles for some much needed R&R with Richard.

Here are the female cast members (besides Tina )– Connie Britton, Rose Byrne and Kathryn Hahn, at the cast dinner in Harlem tonight at the Red Lobster

Oh yes, two things I almost forgot, last night I saw “Trip to Bountiful” with Tony-winner Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding. I hadn’t seen Cicely since we made a film together in 1975 in Leningraad (directed by George Cukor and also starring Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Gardner) and I hadn’t seen Cuba since we shot “The Butler” together last fall.

and here we are with my new friend, Jeanne Donovan

Cicily was inspired and isn’t she still beautiful…at 88!!!

The other thing I forgot to mention is that I won the Broadcast Critics Award the other day for “Guest Star in a Drama.” It made me very happy.

Avatar of Daniel P.
Daniel P.01:29 June 14, 2013

Congrats again on your well-deserved award! In case you haven’t read my last comment, I also watched your awesome goldderby chat and I even submitted a question (the one about the controversy around The Newsroom, I was so glad; Tom didn’t read my name like he often does, but there we go…:D).

Do you happen to know when This is Where I Leave You gets released?

BTW, I just read Tina Fey’s book where she jokes (in 2011) that she sees a movie with you in the future. With her being a wedding crasher I think who falls into a cake or something causing you to rap. :D

Cicely Tyson is really amazing, but she only turns 80 this year. :)

Also, watch out with Arrested Development, once I planned to watch 4 episodes until 11 PM, staying up until 6 AM, finishing the whole season. :D

Avatar of Jason Couch
Jason Couch08:08 June 14, 2013

Jane, you will LOVE improv. I’ve done it. It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve done, though. Before you go up you’d rather die. You KNOW you’re going to make a fool of yourself (that’s kind of the point, though!). Then all the fears come up like what if I can’t think of anything? Well adrenalin will make sure you will! And then all of a sudden you’re in the middle of it, you’re enjoying it, the audience is loving it and you’re on a high. A kind of high you never really (or rarely) get in acting because there’s a kind of freedom in improv. I think I’m quite good at it (even if I say so myself) but the nerves beforehand get to me and I’m a wimp, so I haven’t done it for a long, long time.
Take care
Jason

Avatar of steve
steve08:11 June 14, 2013

Love your blogs Jane. They are like short stories that take us inside the creative process, to places we would not see, and inspire us to realize that there is hope out there for an active, purposeful, and enriched life – especially to those of us over 50 and still searching!
Much love!

Steve C.

Avatar of SusanK
SusanK09:31 June 14, 2013

That sounds like an awesome cast for the movie. It is another movie I will put on my list of Must Sees. The Butler is, of course, already on that list.
At the end of June, beginning of July, I am going to Atlanta for a conference. I have driven through the city, but never stopped before. I am hoping to take a CNN tour. Do you have any other suggestions of things I should see while I am there? Is the Margaret Mitchell house worth a stop?

Avatar of edward ferry
edward ferry14:26 June 15, 2013

I get so much out of coming here to your site.
there you are on a picnic blanket at a beautiful wedding.
there you are in j.carrey’s studio. On the set with all the brilliant comedians. I find it interesting too that you are suddenly surrounded by comedians. I, for one, can understand why many of them would feel shy around you. you are a great dramatic actress. that title requires that you plumb the depths of the human experience with courage and truth and conviction. while comedy and comedic acting appears to be based on scrupulously avoiding going too deep. Make connections, make associations…mock, self-deprecate, but get too close to the bone and the joke fails; the joker no longer in control. If there is any depth, it is left in the echos and the resonance.
I find it telling too that only comedy (and action/adventure) seems to be celebrated in this our high-stakes era. I think its great that you are exploring the dynamics of it. and trust you have something great to add to it.

Avatar of Sim Carter
Sim Carter14:41 June 16, 2013

I’m so excited to have found you here! I met you long long ago at a party in Santa Monica on the eve they declared a mistrial in the Daniel Ellsberg case. 1973 as I recall and I was 20 and it was a heady, heady night. My bff’s mother served on the jury and brought us along; it was probably her (Corky) who introduced me to you but I was incoherent with nervous tension and babbled how I wanted to be just like you in KLUTE. You laughed – because why would anyone want to be a call girl (hopefully I was talking about your amazing wardrobe and your shag haircut – and were quite kind. I’m sure you knew I was dumbfounded and dazzled to be in your company; and on such a momentous evening. It may not surprise you to learn that snippet morphed into an actual anecdote, enhanced and amended for additional drama and impact, which I’ve told for the last forty years!
These days, a lifetime later it seems, I read, write, mother my only child (my own handsome 20 year old son) and blog about movies based on books on my blog Chapter1-Take1. I’d just begun reading Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You when I read Judd’s description of his psychiatrist mom with the surgically-enhanced cleavage and remembered you were playing the role in the screen adaptation. OMG! as they say. I truly can’t wait! And do you have any idea of a release date? imdb.com ain’t sayin’.
I googled around to see if I could find the release date as well as any posted info or behind the scenes images of the cast I could share with my readers (hope you don’t mind) and was blown away to discover JaneFonda.com.
Why so shocked? IDK, I’m always surprised at how some of the world’s most fascinating, creative and celebrated people are suddenly somehow accessible these days – if but for a moment to reply to a comment or RT a tweet.
So different than the L.A. that I came of age in where they sold Maps to the Star’s Homes in BH! I wonder if they still do that?! I should take a drive up to Sunset and see.
Excuse the long meandering comment but I also want to thank you for keeping me looking hot (for me, that is; everything’s relative) and feeling healthy and strong in the 80′s! I couldn’t have done it without my Jane Fonda workout tape.
Congrats on your Broadcast Critics win and again, can’t wait to see you in This Is Where I Leave You; as I recall from Barefoot in the Park, you do that whole comedic thing really, really well. Robert Redford, btw, is the only other actor that I’ve ever written a ‘fan letter’ to; it was around the same time and after seeing The Candidate couldn’t help sending a gushing letter. I got a response back too. It was from his fan club; send a $1 back and they’d send me an autographed picture. LOL!!!
Forgive the length of this, and just call me a fan of your work on all fronts; onscreen, in politics, and in your body/image work. Kudos and affection. Sim

Avatar of Candace Pfau
Candace Pfau18:09 June 18, 2013

You look so healthy and full of light. Working a lot agrees with you. And a good Mom in movies is hard to find. We need more good Mom’s in this world. Loved the shot of Jim painting. No wonder he has been absent on twitter. What a fantastic artist he is.
I agree Ed. I too get so much out of Jane’s blog. She writes as if she is right there speaking to you. A very natural writer.

Avatar of Laura Lynn Berrios
Laura Lynn Berrios12:11 June 19, 2013

Hi Jane,

Your blog is wonderful, I am so glad Jones told me about it. Working with you on “TIWILY” was a joy. I learned so much from watching you and the rest of the cast.

Always,
Laura
Give a hug to Tulea for me.

Avatar of Professor Doctor Alan Jeffrey

Hi, Ms. F. Gosh, you lead such an active and pacy life, with new experiences and new people omnipresent! Also, you jet from east to west coast in the space of a day or so to fulfill various filming requirements, which all beg the question – how do you unwind? Is there a place to which you go or a particular activity which relaxes you?

Avatar of edward ferry
edward ferry21:20 June 30, 2013

Dear Jane,
one more thing! In reading the comments, I’m struck by how many really cool people there are among your fans.
Maybe we should have a Janefest!
warmly,
Edward

Avatar of Jason Couch
Jason Couch02:21 July 6, 2013

A Janefest would be fantastic. For us at least. Not sure for you, Jane. Having a load of people adoring you who’ve never met you. If you know what I mean…! Well as a flight attendant I can fly anywhere, so let me know when and where! ;-)
Jason

Avatar of Peter Spencer
Peter Spencer16:57 July 13, 2013

I am all for the Jane Fonda Philm Fest idea. Note, I spelled Philm with a Ph — implying that it would be a philosophical gathering meant to connect people who are regular commentators on this awesome, refreshing blog.

@edward ferry Hm, I’d feel in a quandary if I had to choose. I’m an existential feminist who equally loves “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and the brilliant “Nine to Five”.

There is a FANTASTIC venue that I am CERTAIN would be thrilled for the opportunity to host such a fest. Here is their website. A lovingly restored old, movie palace located in the heart of the poorer neighborhoods of Detroit. They have an organ that dates back to the silent movie days. They have film historians and celebrities make appearances quite regularly.

http://redfordtheatre.com/

No exaggeration, it is my favorite place on Earth. I feel magical every time I go. I took my niece (11) and nephew (9) there for their first REDFORD THEATER experience last night, and had an “On Golden Pond” moment of sorts. I realized that I was fulfilling the same role my Dad did when he drove my sister and me there for the first time 27 years ago. Last night, we saw “Mary Poppins” — 27 years ago, it was “Roman Holiday”.

Great things happen from semi-serious “ideas”!!

Avatar of Peter Spencer
Peter Spencer19:10 July 13, 2013

No. I believe that it is named after a nearby suburb of Detroit (Redford, MI).

It really is gorgeous. An anachronism — with it’s original marquee with giant letters, and bright, golden lightbulbs. (Smaller letters listing the stars of the movie above the title.)

Inside, their is a charming foyer, a grand balcony, you can take tours of the old projection booth. The sky is painted a just before midnight blue, with twinkling starlights (so when the movie is playing you feel like you are outdoors).

The big red velvet curtain opens to a huge American flag 30 minutes before the show starts, and the audience (of all ages, races, orientations and socio-economic backgrounds) satnds to sing the National Anthem. During the organ overture, the children stand amazed before the player piano that seems to be operated by “magic”, or “a ghost” (or, as my nephew — a “Star Wars” fan — suggested, “The Force”).

In is on the National Register of Historic Sites. Tippi Hendren appeared last year, when they showed “The Birds”. Shirley Jones is appearing this year, for “The Music Man”.

Across the street is a small, family owned bakery called Sweet Potato Sensations — everything is made from sweet potatoes.

Here’s a wiki link (if you are interested):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redford_Theatre

P.S. And my sincerest wishes for a speedy recovery from what I hope proves to be a successful surgery. My husband suffers from chronic pain (fibromyalgia) — it has really strengthened my empathy muscles, trying to help him, as I am perfectly pain-free and physically healthy myself. Such a Blessing!

Avatar of edward ferry
edward ferry16:24 July 14, 2013

lord knows Detroit could use infusions visitors with a little money to spend!

Avatar of Peter Spencer
Peter Spencer17:59 July 14, 2013

No, I think it’s named for the neighboring community of Redford, MI. (Redistricting throughout the years.) There IS a charming community garden that one could walk “Barefoot in…”, however. LOL.

I hope your pain is subsiding, and your hand healing!

Avatar of SusanK
SusanK12:58 July 31, 2013

Peter, I go to the Redford Theatre. I saw Tippi (The Birds) and Peter Ostrum (Charlie)/Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee) from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Also, I saw Mary Badham from To Kill a Mockingbird. They usually introduce their film and speak during intermission. The people sign photos, movies, etc. of themselves for a fee. I really enjoy it. The theatre is beautiful.

Avatar of Peter Spencer
Peter Spencer00:58 August 1, 2013

edward ferry and SusanKoretz, It really is neat getting to know one another. I hope that you, Ms. Fonda, don’t mind (too much) about your blog having been hijacked by my slightly off-topic enthusiasm. Even more so, though, I do hope that you really consider edward ferry’s original (brilliant) idea of holding a Jane Fonda Festival — somewhere. SusanKoretz, I’d love to get into contact with you, so we can meet up the next time we are both at “our” theater. We obviously, already, share some of the same appreciations in life! Establishing friendships, though intimidating, is exciting (and enriching).

Avatar of SusanK
SusanK16:52 September 5, 2013

Peter, I will hopefully be at the Redford to see The Music Man with Shirley Jones speaking either September 13 or 14. You never know, maybe I will see you there. :)

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