It’s been five years since since Jane Fonda last appeared on screen (in Lindsay Lohan’s would-be comeback Georgia Rule). But the Hollywood legend and two-time Oscar winner is returning to the spotlight with a vengeance, in a trio of provocative new projects. First, she stars as Catherine Keener’s pot-smoking, bed-hopping hippie mom in the indie dramedy Peace, Love & Misunderstanding (out June 8). Then, on HBO’s Aaron Sorkin series The Newsroom (debuting June 24), she’ll play a media mogul who bears a striking similarity to Fonda’s ex-husband Ted Turner and spars with a cranky cable news anchor (Jeff Daniels). And in July, Fonda, 74, will begin filming a cameo as Nancy Reagan in director Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the true-life story of a White House butler (Forest Whitaker) who worked for eight different presidents. Playing the Republican grande dame may seem like a major departure for the former Vietnam protester, but Fonda insists, ”I can look like her! I can!” Here are nine other things that may surprise you.
1. She had to educate herself to play a hippie.
Despite her reputation as a counterculture figure, Fonda says that during the late ’60s she was living a decidedly glamorous life in Paris with her then husband, director Roger Vadim. ”I was never a hippie myself, so I thought it would be fun to play one,” says Fonda, who prepped for her role as a longtime activist in Woodstock, N.Y., in Peace, Love & Misunderstanding by digging into Woodstock documentaries and period songs (many suggested by costar Keener). ”I looooved wearing those clothes,” says Fonda. ”There’s a lot of different ways to look like a hippie — I wanted to be a hippie queen.”
2. She modeled her Newsroom character on Rupert Murdoch as much as Ted Turner.
”Rupert is the most charming person when he wants to charm somebody,” says Fonda, who met the Fox News mogul (above left) during a skiing weekend at Turner’s Montana ranch. ”And I think my character can be very charming when she wants to be.” While Fonda is still on friendly terms with Turner (above right), she didn’t seek out her ex’s advice on how to play the boss of a cable news network. ”I didn’t need to — I lived with him for 10 years!” she says, laughing. In what ways is her character similar to Turner? ”She has humor, so that’s like Ted. She may not be as nice as Ted. She’s tough. Not that Ted’s not tough, but he’s not tough in the same way.”