For our fortieth anniversary, the editors of Rolling Stone have interviewed twenty artists and leaders who helped shape our time. Over the next four weeks, every day, we’ll be debuting exclusive audio clips from the Q&As, giving you unparalleled access to some of the most important personalities in history.
Today we present actress/activist/fitness instructor/author/lightning rod Jane Fonda. The progeny of Hollywood royalty, Fonda has from the beginning played by her own rules. She opted for art house films instead of box office stardom (snagging seven Oscar nominations and two Best Actress wins.) She protested against the Vietnam War louder than most. (So loudly, in fact, that she’s still feeling the repercussions.) And she taught your grandma how to stay in shape in the pre-Viagra era. In an interview with Anthony DeCurtis for our fortieth anniversary issue, Fonda talks about the wild 1960s, being a born-again Christian, the Dixie Chicks and the infamous “Hanoi Jane” fiasco. Here are five audio excerpts from the interview, and for the entire Fonda profile, pick up your copy of our fortieth anniversary issue, on stands now.
Fonda comes clean about the North Vietnam incident that still ruffles the public’s feathers: “The whole ‘Hanoi Jane’ thing isn’t really about what it seems to be about. There’s a gender and class aspect to it: I’m a privileged, famous woman sitting on that gun. I handed it to them — it’s my fault…”
Fonda talks about the political responsibilities of both film and music: “People need to be uplifted and have their hearts opened, and music can do that. Jackson Browne did that. Bruce Springsteen did that. James Taylor. The Dixie Chicks do it now. Film can go a step further…”
Even as she approaches that august age of 70, Jane is still a revolutionary at heart: “I understand why people call this a democracy. We can vote, and we have all kinds of freedom. But it’s not an economic democracy. And it’s not a gender democracy. We have to strive for a real democracy….”
Fonda talks about why she made the segue from movie star to fitness icon: “For upper-class and middle-class women, their empowerment began in their muscles. That’s what happened to me. That simple fact of being able to become strong physically made all the difference in the world.”
An atheist for most her life, Fonda talks about joining the God Squad: “I very much feel the presence of God. And then this person Jesus — I am utterly fascinated by this man. I feel that what he preached was revolutionary, and it’s totally what we need now.”
Check back tomorrow for another installment of our twenty-part audio interviews, featuring some of the most iconic and influential pop culture figures of the last 40 years. Want a hint at tomorrow’s interviewee? What Oscar-winning actor and Rolling Stone multi-cover boy told us this:
“Regrets, I’ve had a few, as Sinatra sings, but ‘nothing’ is probably the appropriate answer. I may have made difficult choices in my career. I may not have turned down The Sting and The Godfather in the same year. That’s professional. Personally, my life shows I wouldn’t change much…”