Magazine article Variety

Fonda Draws Strength from Engagement

Magazine article Variety

Fonda Draws Strength from Engagement

Article excerpt

Given jane fonda's hard-earned stature as an actress, activist, author and self-help guru, she's amazingly humble and grounded in the moment. There's no calcified nostalgia for the past. There are no unfavorable comparisons between today's conglomerated entertainment landscape and Hollywood's second Golden Era in the 70s, when she earned Oscars for "Klute" and "Coming Home."

Instead of citing the icons of her generation and those previous, she's generous *n tier praise of younger peers. On Meryl Streep: "She has raised the bar S() hjgh that it throws the , , " gauntlet at our feet. When asked who the equivalents of Costa-Gavras and Stan, , ley Kramer are today, she points to Clooney, Damon and Affleck: "These young , , . , and big movie stars also direct and produce movies that are very, very relevant politically and socially."

Even the relatively green Adam Driver, with whom she appears in the upcoming "This Is Where I Leave You," doesn't escape her admiration: "He's the real thing as a human being and an actor."

As it's been her entire adult life, Fonda's thirst for knowledge and new experience is unquenchable. "My mantra is that it's more important to be interested than interesting," she tells Variety. "If I seem younger than my age it's because I've stayed interested."

For the record, the 76-year-old Fonda, the 42nd recipient of AFI's Life Achievement Award, looks at least 20 years younger. Part of it has to do with an exercise regimen that started with ballet and continued with those aerobics workouts that became part of the Fonda brand. But it's her curiosity and restless mind - which she keeps sharp by reading, writing and engaging with the world - that must harbor some kind of restorative powers.

WTien it's suggested that the cultivation of the mind is perhaps an actor's most important tool, she demurs.

"I don't know if exercising the mind is exercising the heart," she says. "Acting is a profession of empathy. We're invited to enter someone else's being, their psyche. And in order to do that you have to have empathy for that person. So you sort of go through life with your antenna way out."

That antenna has extended beyond researching roles. She's spent way more time directly involved in various causes - from opposition to the wars in Vietnam and Iraq to civil rights to gender equality to income disparity - than she has in front of the camera. …

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