Jane Fonda says she stumbled into acting after being fired for a disturbing reason.
The activist and star of “Book Club: The Next Chapter” told People in an exclusive video from her most recent cover story about her having no interest in pursuing the profession despite her father being actor Henry Fonda.
“He never brought joy to the house,” Fonda said of her father after a day of work on set. “I never felt like he had joy, I think he did, actually, but it never showed when he came home. So it wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God, I want what he’s got.’ No.”
Fonda also explained that even if she wanted to act, she didn’t feel cut out for it.
“I didn’t think I had talent. I didn’t think she was pretty enough. I had a lot of body dysmorphia,” she said, then added, “I was pretty lost as a young person.”
So Fonda decided to get an office job, which, interestingly enough, eventually led her to acting.
“I got fired as a secretary because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss,” Fonda said. “I didn’t know what else I could do and I became friends with Susan Strasberg, daughter of the famous acting coach, Lee Strasberg.”
“And he told me that I should try to do an interview with him and that he might accept me in his class. And I did, and he did,” she said. “And then he told me I had talent. No one had ever told me that, so he did.”
Fonda went on to make films like 1965’s “Cat Ballou,” 1967’s “Barefoot in the Park,” and 1968’s “Barbarella.” The last of these films made Fonda a true sex symbol, but the “Grace and Frankie” star has expressed having “pretty complicated feelings.”” towards “Barbarella.” She she told Glamour in May 2022, he felt conflicted with the plot, finding it a bit “objectifying to me and women”.
Fonda told Vanity Fair in 2022 that she only did “Barbarella” because her husband at the time, the film’s director. Roger Vadim, he wanted her to do it, and she was quite passive in their relationship.
“If I didn’t want him to do a particular movie, he wouldn’t do it,” Fonda said. “I was doing pretty much what the men in my life wanted me to do.”
Fonda admitted to People in her recent cover story that there was a reason she felt so little autonomy at the time.
“Being young is very difficult. Don’t let anyone fool you,” Fonda told People. “I wish someone had told me when I was younger, ‘Don’t give up. Keep going. It will get better.'”