Tomorrow I fly to New Orleans to film my role as Nancy Reagan in the Lee Daniels film, “The Butler.” Forest Whitaker plays the butler (true story) and Oprah plays his wife. I will have scenes with both of them and with Alan Rickman who plays Ronald Reagan…I’ve gotten used to thinking of him now as Ronnie, which is what Ms Reagan calls him. I’m excited about this. I feel very ready to take her on. I wish it was more than a cameo. I know that she is pleased that I am playing her. I know this because a friend of mine, writer Annette Tapert (who happens to be married to Joe Allen, Richard’s college roommate) was at a party given for her (and Betsy Bloomingdale’s) birthday. I asked Annette to  tell Ms Reagan I was honored to be playing her. And, because I have a scene walking down a White House corridor with then Secretary of State, James Baker, I wanted to know what she used to call him (Jim) and would she have linked her arm in his (no). I’m glad that in the brief time I have to play her, the script allows us to see how involved she was in all matters surrounding her husband…almost like a chief of staff. She took a lot of flack for the china she purchased for White House affairs, etc, but she was no fluff piece. Whatever her politics, it seems that Ms Reagan was ultimately concerned about how policy positions would impact Ronnie’s legacy which is why she pushed for the summit with the Russians and wanted more moderates on his staff. Who knew!

Preparing for this role has been going on amidst our moving into a new house. Moving is inevitably stressful, less so for me than for Richard. In the last 38 years, I have moved in a major way 10 times, Richard never! But he’s taken it pretty well. It’s a perfect house for us. A good 3rd Act house, is how I describe it. Instead of the twinkling southern view of all Los Angeles and the ocean, we look out to the west (and a tad north) over hills. It’s a serene view. I’ll send some photos soon—

The move is why it’s been so long since I’ve blogged about what I’m doing. But, I’ll have to admit, it’s also because there is so much going on out there in the political realm that I find utterly shocking and despicable—I haven’t known where to start to express myself and so many others are doing a good job of saying what I would want said — about the “legitimate rape,” the pick of Paul Ryan as VP, the war in Syria, the rise in suicides among U.S. Combat troops and vets. So much. And so many people I knew have died in the last month. Not just Veronique Peck. There’s Frank Pierson who wrote “Cat Ballou” and directed my son in the amazing Showtime film, “Soldier’s Girl” (for which Troy was nominated for as Golden Globe); Phyillis Diller, and more.

Amidst it all, I feel blessed to be healthy, in a new home, working. I’ve gotten a lot of really positive feedback for “Newsroom” which makes me very happy. Tonight is the last episode of the season and I’m in it. Hope you’ll watch. It ties everything together the way only Aaron Sorkin can.

I will for sure blog from New Orleans and send pictures. Stay tuned

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  1. Jane, saw you tonight in Newsroom! You play the Leona role brilliantly! I’ve been a huge fan for as long as I can remember. I’m 27 now and you have always been a motivation for me to stay classy, educated, informed, and most of all you have shown me that being pretty doesn’t discount ones intelligence. Thank you for that and keep up the good work ! You are truly amazing!

  2. Hi Jane,

    I’ve loved reading your posts for the past few weeks. I haven’t been able to log on here due to some technical issue. No idea what happened.

    I was particularly impressed by the blog about Omaha. Just looking at the picture of your dad as an Eagle Scout before he was famous. I bet then he could never have imagined how he would later be regarded as one of the world’s finest actors and how he would change cinema history through his acting and all of you in his family.

    I’m reading the Grapes of Wrath at the moment. Unfortunately never seen the film. Will have to rent it one day.

    Veronique Peck I didn’t know but you are right when you say “act on those feelings”! Very important. But isn’t it amazing how some people you meet in life just enthrall you? I had a colleague at the BBC like that. She was an enigma. And poor Phyllis Diller who made us all laugh and what a gift to have. I’d rather have humour than all the money in the world. She often said she was so old “her back went out more than she did!” Life is so great when you can make fun of the injustices we all have to bear.

    Break a leg with the Nancy Reagan movie.
    Take care

  3. Unfortunately, many have forgotten and still countless others have never known how Ms. Fonda betrayed not only the idea of our country, but specific men who served and sacrificed during the Vietnam War.

  4. New Orleans? Hopefully Isaac is kind to you folks. New Orleans is an odd place to be filming a butler’s years in the White House. Well, I can’t wait to see it! I love those types of movies. Was it a book first?
    I absolutely love “The Newsroom”! It is my favorite series by far. It will be interesting to see where your character goes, remaining a villain or cheering for the good guys. Will you be attending the Emmys even though the series started too late for this year?
    As for politics, I had to take a brief break from watching the news. Such extreme politicians and such constant lies. I can’t believe people believe some of this stuff! But one needs to stay informed, so I am once again tuning in. (Paul Ryan scares me. There is absolutely no hesitation on who I will be voting for come November.)
    Enjoy your home views! Sounds beautiful! I would love to live by the mountains OR ocean. All I have is cement and puddles! 🙂

    • Not going to Emmys. Filming has shut down. I’m still home and may well be working during Emmys.

  5. Dear Jane,

    Good to see your new blog!

    Right now we are touring the west of the USA and have crossed New Mexico on our way to Mesa Verde. It sure is very beautiful!

    Enjoy your new home and good luck with hte part of Nancy Reagan.

    By the way, how is Tulea? Still so sleepy? Our cats always have to adapt traveling from one place to another:-)


  6. It sounds exciting about the new home and your roles. I always look forward to seeing you in anything you film.

  7. I enjoy reading your blog and miss you when you are busy living life. Thank you for thinking about our veterans. I am a 20 year army veteran living my 2nd act and in my 2nd career. I raised wonderful children and lived an amazing life because the Army embraced me when I left foster care in LA back in 1978. As a democrat, woman, and veteran I stand by our president.

    As a side note, Newsroom is a fabulous show, great writing, great acting and I hope to see more of you in the next season.

  8. Hi,

    The first time I heard your name was from my dad. Then somehow long time ago, I got your “LEAN” work out VSH. I loved it so much. Wouldn’t you make it into DVD?? I have been looking for it butI could’t find it any more, not even on VHS !

    Right now, I am having “Complete Work Out” I exercise five nights a week.

    But I still look forward to getting the one that I really liked “LEAN”

    Please Please have it made again! Thank you!

    • Thank you, Anouhak, I will try to get LEAN as a DVD asap.

  9. Madame Fonda I think you are a beautiful person both outside and inside.It is a role model is very honest and very pretty.The flame unquenchable Jane Fonda!!!

  10. I’m looking forward to The Butler. As I wrote in another post, I had the privilege of meeting Wil Haygood, with whom I talked “shop,” and who asked me to come to the premiere in the fall. (Walking on air!)

    Being a screenwriter, I’ve read the screenplay (draft by Danny Strong), and I love Mrs. Reagan’s introduction in Cecil’s story, which occurs shortly after Cecil’s last scene with President Carter. The scene with President Carter is quite poignant, especially for me, who lost his father at a young age. I felt great empathy for Cecil’s response to President Carter’s question about fishing.

    Then comes President Reagan into the White House kitchen — a jocund man who starts things off with what I call the “pony” joke. And then (drumroll) enter Mrs. Reagan in her stylish red suit. The change in President Reagan is rather telling. (Booker’s response, which ends the scene, gave me a nice smile and laugh.)

    Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Reagan locates Cecil in a White House hallway. I won’t spoil it, but the manner in which Mrs. Reagan addresses Cecil, and the request she asks of him and Gloria, warm the heart. Oh, Ms. Fonda, I can already hear you, a la Nancy, saying, “You’re very well liked around here…” etc.

    The only thing I wish is that you were in more of the film. But, being as the story is denoted by an episodic structure, it’s understandable. Still, we have to wait until page 111 until we get to see you?!

    I’m looking very forward to this. For films to see this year, The Butler’s at the top of my list.

    As for the political climate, it’s very distressing. The plethora of information we citizens have to assimilate, and our corresponding emotions — well, it’s infuriating, conflicting, and frightening.

    But there are glimmers of hope and optimism. The “legitimate rape” debate is the most unfortunate. Initially, I thought Mr. Akin’s words were bad comedy. How, I thought, in the second decade of a new millenium, can this even be purported? Horrific.

    Recently, PBS aired a wonderful documentary, Makers: The Women Who Make America. Apparently, the battle continues. However, the documentary did much to reinstill my faith in our species. As long as there are those who stand up to injustice, we will prevail.

    As for the rise in suicides among our troops and vets, this is monstrous. They deserve our respect and genuine care, which is something you went a long way in emphasizing with Coming Home — the only film made that dared to look deeply into the traumas and challenges our soldiers face when returning to civilian life. Why haven’t more films of Coming Home’s compassion been made?

    There is, however, a wonderful book that deals with soldiers returning stateside. It’s called Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; its author is Ben Fountain. Not only does it deal with the myriad problems our soldiers’ face when returning from combat, it’s also a sharp, satirical dissection of the American pysche. I highly recommend it.

    And Frank Pierson. His screenplay for Dog Day Afternoon is a model from which all screenwriters may learn. In fact, it was primarily the reason I watched Soldier’s Girl when it premiered on Showtime. I recall watching the trailer, and the second I saw Mr. Pierson’s name, I thought: I’m in.

    At the time, I wasn’t aware that Mr. Garity acted. When I watched the film, I kept thinking, Who is he? I know I’ve heard the name. About halfway through, it hit me: My goodness, Ms. Fonda and Mr. Hayden are his parents!

    He gave a stunning performance as Barry Winchell, Along with Mr. Pace (as Calpernia/Scottie), Mr. Garity created a three-dimensional character who moved me many times to tears. And how wonderful to see a film that investigates the reasons WHY we love, instead of just being preoccupied with the physicality of a union.

    Soldier’s Girl is a film I still recommend to people. Once you’ve seen it, you don’t forget it. In addition to the stellar acting, we’ve Mr. Pierson’s excellent direction and Mr. Nyswaner’s affecting screenplay.

    My feeling toward awards is one of ambivalence, and Soldier’s Girl (among other films) is one of the reasons. Mr. Garity, Mr. Pace, Mr. Pierson, and Mr. Nyswaner should have been recognized more than they were. A film of such quality and caliber should be celebrated.

    I hope Richard and you have settled in and are enjoying your new “digs.” Just remember to take time to enjoy the view both without and within.

    Warm regards,


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