1. A Prolific Period of Self-Discovery
When she got the Monster-in-Law script, Jane Fonda hadn’t been in a movie in 15 years. Her most recent film was 1990’s Stanley & Iris, after which she married media mogul and CNN founder Ted Turner and promptly retired from acting. In a 2013 CNN interview, Fonda remembered Turner telling her on their second date, “‘If this is going to work, you’re going to have to give up your career.’ I’m thinking, this is a little bit early in the relationship for that.” The conversation moved on to other things and then Turner came back with, “I just realized, you’re not going to give up your career until you win an Oscar.’ I said, ‘Ted, I have two.'”
“I was planning to do it anyway,” she insisted, “so it was partly Ted and partly something I wanted, too.”
In 2005, she told LiveAboutDotCom about her decision to retire from acting 15 years prior: “It had become agony. I was not happy inside as a woman and I was kind of in denial about it and sort of cut off from my emotions. I was living on willpower and its very hard to be creative when you’re living on willpower. My last two or three movies were just agony and I said, I don’t want to be scared anymore. Then I met Ted Turner and I didn’t have to.”
After they divorced in 2001, “I was celibate for seven years,” Fonda shared with Forbes in 2011, “and I discovered I’m fine.”
She and Turner remained friends, even though, according to Fonda’s 2005 memoir, My Life So Far, Turner was a serial cheater. Still, “it was really hard to leave—I was 62 years old and I had no career anymore,” Fonda recalled to The New Yorker in 2018.” I didn’t have to work, I was being looked after. And yet I knew that, if I stayed, I was never going to become who I’m meant to be as a whole person, as a really authentic person. And I tried to explain it to him, but he doesn’t really understand.”
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