Chicago Sun Times: Fonda garners Chicago film honor as Roeper guides her down memory lane

Had a blast in Chicago this weekend, with friends, family and Cinema Chicago, but came home and went right to work on my next film. At some point I hope to write more, but in the meantime I’d love to share this piece

Jane Fonda speaks with Richard Roeper as part of a tribute to the actress on July 29, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Jane Fonda speaks with Richard Roeper as part of a tribute to the actress on July 29, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

By Rachel Hinton

Cinema/Chicago, the organization that heads up the Chicago International Film Festival, paid tribute to Jane Fonda Saturday night. The two-time Academy Award winner received the festival’s Gold Hugo Career Achievement Award for her contribution to film and television.

Before receiving the award, Fonda talked with Richard Roeper, film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, about her career.

Kayla Sullers, 17, a Cineyouth young filmmaker from South Shore, poses for photos with Jane Fonda at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel on July 29, 2017. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Kayla Sullers, 17, a Cineyouth young filmmaker from South Shore, poses for photos with Jane Fonda at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel on July 29, 2017. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Though “Klute” and “Coming Home” won awards, Fonda said the role that stuck with her most was the character of Chelsea Wayne in “On Golden Pond.”

Fonda got the chance to act opposite her father, Henry Fonda, and Katharine Hepburn, who helped her during a scene even though the two had a difficult relationship.

“When it came time to shoot [my main scene] I was as dry as a tent and I didn’t know what to do,” Fonda said of the scene where she tries to repair her relationship with her father.

“I turned my back to the camera and I looked up and, crouching in the bushes, [Hepburn] leaned forward and said ‘you can do it.’”

Fonda’s friends and costars, including Robert DeNiro, Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin and Geraldine Chaplin, sent their congratulations for her award and heaped praise on her acting career.

The actress’ roles in TV were also mentioned. Her roles as Leona Lansing on “The Newsroom” and Grace Hanson on “Grace and Frankie” are two of her more recent roles.

Of her role in “Grace and Frankie,” Fonda said that she was happy to be doing it.

“For a long time I’ve wanted to give a face to older women and show we’re not the stereotypes people think we are,” she said.

Her role as Judy Bernly in “Nine to Five” had interesting things to say about the workplace in the 1980s, Roeper said.

The movie was initially supposed to be a dark comedy, but turned into a comedy once Lily Tomlin was added. Fonda also said the movie was unusual because the song Dolly Parton, who also starred in the film, wrote for it, became “the anthem for a movement.

“It had a big effect on what working women in offices were doing around the country,” she said.

Though the night was a look back, Fonda is looking forward. She’ll be in another movie with Robert Redford, called “Our Souls At Night,” that’s set to premiere in fall at the Venice Film Festival. She’s also starting work on a movie called “The Book Club” on Monday.

Jane Fonda speaks with Richard Roeper as part of a tribute to the actress on July 29, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Jane Fonda speaks with Richard Roeper as part of a tribute to the actress on July 29, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Fonda tries to pay it forward by educating younger actors but feels it’s difficult because she still feels like a newbie, she said, since she left show-business for 15 years and returned at the age of 65.

When asked what roles lingered with her she said “On Golden Pond” and her role as Gertie Nevels in a show called “The Dollmaker.”

When asked how she’d like to be remembered, she smiled.

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  1. Jane, I’m not as reticent as you. Your comments about the roles you’ve played made me smile. You are a stunningly beautiful woman and In my opinion the most beautiful actor ever. I’ve seen all your films and read your autobiography My Life so Far. Your work with the underprivilaged and your political activism struck a chord with me over 50 years ago I’ve been a loyal fan since the 60s. Your beauty distract one in the films you’ve made and two Oscars are proof enough that you are a very talented actor. If you weren’t an ”issues” actor you would have doubled you Oscar count. Just last week I watch Monster-in-Law for the second time but decided I would ignore the plot and the other actors and just concentrate on your acting I studied your acting intensely. Your facial expressions, your body movements and reactions to any given incident. The way you laugh, got cross, reponded to events. I was curious to see you act without being distracted. Jane, yes you are beautiful, kind, generous and caring for the less fortunate and your political views are admirable. At the film’s end I reached the conclusion that your ability as an actor can only be matched by your beauty. Gosh you can act, Jane. Superb. Your dad was a great actor but they broke the mould when they made you.

  2. I was lucky enough to attend this event in person and even more lucky that Richard Roeper picked my question to ask you (about what characters lingered with you the longest after filming). Thank you so much for answering and for a fun evening! You looked fantastic and your presence was such a pleasure.

  3. Very deserved award! You have long been a hero of mine, Ms. Fonda. Your memoirs came out when I was in college and I loved the book. Was it fun to work with Dolly on 9 to 5?

  4. What a wonderful tribute! I imagine, Jane, you have some pretty amazing stories of your life experiences. Enjoy your work on your new movie!

  5. Hi Jane,
    Thanks for sharing this article. The Dollmaker is one of my favorite of your films. If I’m not mistaken, that was made for TV and you won an Emmy for playing Gertie. Am I right or am I having a senior moment? What a powerful story that was.
    On another note, I wanted to make you aware (if you aren’t already) about Amy McGrath. A retired marine fighter pilot who is challenging Andy Barr (congressman from the 6th district here in Kentucky…my district) for his seat in the House of Representatives. I am so excited about her and think there is a real chance that she can win. She’s been getting a lot of national attention because of her campaign add which I’ve included at the end of this message. It’s pretty inspiring and gives me hope. I cannot wait to vote for her!
    Take care and have a great day,

    • Yes, Melissa, you’re correct–made for TV and garnered me an Emmy

  6. Jane,
    Congratulations on this wonderful award recognizing your achievements in film and television throughout your amazing career! Your incredible body of work has not only inspired generations of women to new levels of strength and confidence, but also been an important source of inspiration for me. As a young girl, 9 to 5 told me that I was not doomed to a second-class role in the workplace when I grew up. On Golden Pond showed me that it is never too late to mend fences and to make the most of your remaining years with those you love. Currently, I am rewatching Grace & Frankie from the beginning, and having just turned forty, it makes me so happy to watch you and Lily showing me and the rest of the world that life does not end at a certain age; in fact, it may just be beginning. Your decades-long commitment to social justice and equality inspire me, a teacher at a large urban high school, to remember our common humanity above all else, and to do my part to leave the planet better than I found it. Thank you so much, Jane Fonda. Congratulations on a job well done!

    Linda 🙂

  7. Hello Ms. Fonda,

    I had the pleasure to attend this event and was hoping to get the opportunity to speak briefly with you but I wasn’t able to so hopefully you’ll see this. I really just wanted to thank you for your passion, activism and your book My Life So Far.

    I’m 25, gay and grew up in entirely different circumstances with you but I found many parallels between our lives in your book. Your book brought such gems of wisdom and insight into my life in a way I hadn’t had before. I almost had a visceral reaction to some of the revelations you made which made me look inward and see some of those same things in myself (i.e. viewing my own worth by how others see me, a difficult relationship with parents, self hatred). Your willingness to be honest, open, own up to your mistakes and take the time to reflect on your past and your choices had a profound impact on me and how I view my life and how I will move forward in my life. I aspire to be as wise, funny, graceful, educated, passionate and insightful as you some day. I know you’re away filming but hopefully you’ll see this and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story in such an open way, words can’t articulate what your book has meant to me and done for me.


  8. Congratulations! Awesome actress! BTW I think On Golden Pond was my favorite too. Of course 9-5 came in a very close second lol. Lol ya girl

  9. Of course I wat h Frankie and Grace repeatedly now. My sister in law says she and I are Frankie and Grace . lol

  10. Jane~
    Congrats on your award! I SO wanted to be there!! I heard people got to ask you questions from the audience, how awesome! Idk if I could think of just one question to ask you! Like is there a movie you’d want to remake again or have a sequel, what’s your favorite accessory, what is your favorite food, what can’t you live without, what was your fav workout video to make, what is the one thing that will always cheer you up? I’ve always wanted to know your favorite color, hard to believe no interviewer has asked you. Btw you looked FABULOUS! I was on twitter and Instagram all day looking at what the Chicago film fest was posting! I love this article, any story you tell from On Golden Pond is always fascinating. For the Our Souls at Night premiere in Venice, totally wish I was going to that! I hope they’ll be lots of pics of you and Redford! Love you two! And the meet and greet people can buy in October in London! Lucky ducks who get to meet you!!! One day…I hope!!
    OMG hello miss red head! Saw a pic of you in the wig for Book Club! I can already tell the movie will be good, just from the awesome cast! Diane Keaton seems so fun to work with! I’m so excited that you’re going to be in a movie, I’ve seen a bunch of your movies but I haven’t seen any in the theater so when that one comes out, whenever that may be, I will for sure be seeing it!
    Emmys are less than 2 months away, Our Souls at Night in 3-4 months! Dolly had her Christmas of Many Colors movie nominated.. does this mean a 9 to 5 reunion could happen?!
    I love love love Grace & Frankie!!! I showed it to my twin sis and she’s on season 3! I watch it with her and it’s my 5th or 6th time rewatching it, it never gets old! I seriously wish there was more than 1 season a year! There should be 2 a year or have more eps in a season! It’s just too good! How long do you think it will last? I hope a while!!!
    PS you are funny! I’ve seen interviews and things where you say you don’t think you’re that funny, but I think you are! You have a GREAT sense of humor- on the show and in real life! Just wanted you to know:)
    Also- I love your workout videos, can you release some more on DVD?! I own the original workout, the complete workout & stress reduction one. I found some on YouTube, I love the abs, buns and thighs one and also the workout challenge! I think you should totally release some more! I didn’t even know you had so many! Step aerobics, new, advanced, lean routine.. I love doing your workouts, I know that they’re a little bit older, and I wasn’t even around for them when they first came out(born in ’99) but they are awesome! I think it’s incredible how you not that many years ago released workout videos in your 70s, you’re such an amazing human being! No way are you going to be 80 this year.. I can’t believe it!
    Also those Grace and Frankie pics you posted in your second most recent blog were awesome!!! Thanks for sharing:) You two are my favorite, seriously love you guys together! Love that Lily and you do things outside of the show together, like going to Michigan. Those outfits tho with the fanny pack and visor hat. What is goin on in that episode ha! So excited for Lisa Kudrow to be on! Cannot wait for season 4!
    Soo sorry this is long, I just typed away! I could ramble on and on, so anyways keep doing what you’re doing, have fun filming Book Club and stay fab! Love u!

    • Alexa, I’ll answer just one of your many questions cause it’s 8pm and I must arise at 4am for work: the film I wish I was young enough to make a sequel of is BARBARELLA!!!

      • Jane~
        You never fail to make my day!!! Thank you for taking the time to respond to one of my many questions, if you ever feel like answering the other ones, I wouldn’t mind-wink wink;) but I’ll for sure take what I got!! You rock!! Love you!!

  11. Mrs. Fonda you look beautiful in your new movie and it’s amazing your work rhythm, I wait all your premieres with much impatience.Love Candita

  12. Ms Fonda,

    I’m 29 years old and first wrote to you when I was in my late teens and struggling in an abusive situation, which you advised me to get out of and report to the authorities. I did as you suggested and I have now finally found my way out of that place. I first read your book ‘My Life So Far’ when I was 19 and want you to know that it helped me immensely.

    I have now found my voice in so many ways: emotionally, politically, spiritually, and I have now come to understand that my physical well being is in direct correlation with my psychological health. We live in a very strange world but I want you to know that your work truly does help others, and I will never forget that because it has changed the course of my life.

    I live in London and wonder if you ever have plans to visit the UK in the future?

    Thank you for giving me courage.

    Rosie xxx

    • Rosie, I’m coming to London in October (12-16)to do a number of interviews and appearances

      • That’s brilliant, I’ve just got my ticket for your appearance at The Savoy in October, can’t wait! xx

  13. Congratulations! Super excited to meet you at your London event in October!

  14. Jane, hate is a horrible word but as of today I hate, hate, hate Donald Trump.

    Jason xx

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