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‘We get braver as we get older. And what the hell do we have to lose, right?’


After five decades of activism and wrestling everything
from childhood wounds to chronic bulimia,
Jane Fonda — at 82
is throwing herself into the biggest fight of them all.

OUR ZOOM CALL is only seconds old when Jane Fonda signals for a pause with one of those extraordinarily long, majestic hands of hers. There’s something she wants to say before we begin. Her world-famous face looks serious. It’s one of those heart-sinking moments when you fear the star is about to set conditions for the interview, that divine right of celebrities, even if it is more usual for minions to deliver any bad news well before now.

As it happens, it’s nothing like that. Instead, Fonda’s distinctive voice begins to break. “Oh, I’m getting all emotional,” she says, the hands flying to her chest. “I love Australia and my heart just broke when the fires happened. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for all the people who lost their homes, and all the species and the beautiful forests that burned. Heartbreaking.”

It is slightly disconcerting to have the legendary star tearing up within minutes of coming on screen but it’s also touching, and clearly sincere. We’ve all endured a pandemic since last summer’s bushfires, so it’s nice of her to remember. On the other hand, she has just written a book about climate change, a kind of road map out of apathy called What Can I Do? The Truth About Climate Change And How To Fix It, so its insidious impacts are much on her mind. It’s also fair to say Jane Fonda has always cared about matters beyond Jane Fonda.

ABOVE:   Jane Fonda (red coat), speaking at the First Fire Friday Rally for Climate Change in Los Angeles on 7 February 2020.  Marie Elena Sager, Dreamstime.

She’s sitting in her townhouse in Los Angeles, in a cosy room with soft lighting, off-white walls lined with paintings, a small, now obligatory, bowl of roses behind her. The place looks comfortable, if modest compared to some of the real estate Fonda has owned over the years, courtesy of being one of the world’s most admired and successful women in her own right, as well as married to a considerate billionaire along the way. (Not everyone gets US$10 million to set up a new charitable foundation as their 60th birthday present. Not everyone wants the bother.)

By Fenella Souter, The Sydney Morning Herald.  4 September 2020

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