Jane Fonda is Hollywood royalty. Which is why it was surprising when the two-time Academy Award Winner suddenly retired from acting in the early 1990’s. While we’re lucky to have her back, Fonda recently opened up as to exactly why she escaped from the limelight for around 15 years:
I was 49 and I was really unhappy. I sat on the edge of my hotel room bed and I was trying to envision a future for myself, and I couldn’t. I thought, "I can’t keep doing this." I can’t act if I’m miserable and so I thought, "Well, I’m just going to stop." I bought some property in New Mexico and I was going to become a full-time environmental activist. And then Ted Turner came into my life. People think I gave up acting because of him. The fact is that I was on the way out. I had 10 years with him that were fabulous and then I had five years writing my memoir, which was very cathartic.
Honestly, this sounds like Jane Fonda made an extremely healthy lifestyle change for herself. So often, Hollywood actors begin their career, and are then unable to ever create a life outside of the public eye. Fonda; however, had the self-awareness to notice her supreme unhappiness, and took steps to make positive change.
Having won two Oscars, and starred in highly acclaimed films such as 9 to 5, alongside Dolly Parton and her future Grace and Frankie co-star Lily Tomlin, Fonda’s career spans decades. This would be the best-case scenario for most actress, although the precipice of her 50’s served to inspire Jane Fonda to step away from the film industry.
Fonda has always been an advocate, in addition to her film projects. Alongside her environmental activism, she was famously opposed to Vietnam War, and is a staunch Feminist who co-founded the Women’s Media Center with Gloria Steinem.
After focusing on her mental health and marriage to CNN founder Ted Turner, Jane Fonda returned to Hollywood with her role in Monster-In-Law in 2009. In her interview with Deadline, Fonda opened up about why she chose that film to mark her return:
At the end of that process I got offered Monster-in-Law. I was now 62. Even though it was a popcorn movie it was transformative for me in terms of my career. It was the only strategic career thing I ever did. I thought, "Hmm, people will come to see J.Lo and they will either rediscover me, or, if they’re young, they’ll discover Fonda," which is absolutely what happened.
Once again, Fonda made the right decision, as her film career revitalized with this box office success. Afterward, she began to be featured in more film roles, including The Butler, as well as a recurring role in HBO’s The Newsroom.
After carefully choosing her projects, and maintaining a healthy body and mind, Fonda has begun her journey as a bonafide Television Star, starring in the Netflix original comedy Grace and Frankie, alongside Lily Tomlin.
There’s no denying it: Fonda is back with a vengeance. And her disappearance from Hollywood was exactly what she needed.