It’s no exaggeration to say that Jane Fonda has been in the public eye since birth. Jane (whose real name is actually Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda) is the daughter of classic Hollywood film star Henry Fonda, meaning that tabloid headlines have been a constant presence in her life. Despite how open she’s been about her tumultuous past through interviews and a 2006 memoir ($16.66, Amazon), there are plenty of life details the actress has kept close to her chest. However, that might change on September 24, when the HBO documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts is expected to shed more light on her decades-long career in show business.
As someone who’s no stranger to rumors swirling about her, it’s still impressive that Jane would allow such an intimate look into her personal world. From her girl-next-door early days as an actress to becoming a fitness guru with wildly popular workout videos, to her most recent return to acting alongside close friend Lily Tomlin, Jane has certainly kept everyone guessing at every turn.
The popular actress has also picked up more than a few lessons on life along the way. Take a look below to learn more about how Jane Fonda (who is 80) has always managed to live her best life no matter the many setbacks that littered her path — and how we can all do the same.
On Accepting Family
Jane has always been candid about her distant relationship with her family members, including dad Henry Fonda and brother Peter. However, she has opened up more recently about how she was finally able to overcome one of the biggest tragedies of her childhood. The actress was only 12 years old when her mother, Frances, died by suicide. The loss affected her for years, and she struggled with a sense of abandonment. She explained in an interview with the Guardian, "It took me a long time to get over that and to kind of reconcile myself with my mother and come to love her and forgive her."
Losing a parent is one of the most difficult hurdles to process, no matter the cause or how young or old they were at the time of their passing. Jane's ability to process those intense emotions speaks volumes to her strength.
On Embracing Romance
Although she and frequent co-star Robert Redford never took their romance off-screen, Jane admitted to W Magazine that she was "so in love with Bob." With three husbands under her belt (and a more recent romance with record producer Richard Perry), Jane has decided she's done with marriage for the foreseeable future.
That said, she is quick to explain that she's "not done with men." For her, it boils down to knowing that whoever she is with will treat her with respect. "I deserve respect. I do, and I deserve to be loved. And if somebody can't quite do that, then I'm sorry, I'm not going to hang around," Jane explained in an interview with the Washington Post.
On the Importance of Friendship
Nearly 40 years after their hit film 9 to 5 (which is reportedly up for a sequel soon), Jane and longtime pal Lily Tomlin are still as close as ever. Although Dolly Parton has yet to pop up on their Netflix series Grace and Frankie, there's no doubt Jane cherishes her friendship with the country queen just as much as Tomlin. Now that she's not focused on romantic relationships, Jane revealed to Vanity Fair how important her female friendships are to her: "You don't have to sleep with people, but you have to be friends... I think that is one reason why women live longer than men. Friendships between women is different than friendship between men. We talk about different things. We delve deep."
She continued to credit her female pals for keeping her strong, saying that "it's my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don't know where I'd be."
On Staying Healthy
Even as fit as she remains in her 80s, Jane admitted to the Guardian that she can no longer follow her famous workout routines from the 1980s and early '90s. Instead, as she explained to InStyle, she focuses on a more metaphorical exercise: leaps of faith. "You have to take risks," Jane says. "You have to take leaps of faith. These days, that's mostly how I stay in shape. Leaps of faith instead of jumping jacks."
Of course, there's no denying that she still looks amazing. She hasn't given up exercise entirely, but is taking a more "easy going" approach to it — you can follow her lead with one of her latest workout programs, which is called Prime Time ($9.99, Amazon).
We should all be so lucky to maintain the kind of beauty Jane has kept since starring in Barbarella. Yes, she has admitted to a few nips and tucks over the years, but there's so much more to her grace than that. "I'm not free of vanity by any means," she told InStyle. "I do feel that one of the most important parts of aging successfully is to have a purpose in life. You've got to have something to wake up for."
And when it comes to specific beauty tips, Jane shared her go-to shade of nail polish with the Washington Post: Malaga Wine by OPI.
On Staying Confident
After spending her early years trying to be whatever others wanted from her — jumping between chic model, sexy actress, and doting daughter — the Oscar winner says it took her third divorce and entering her 60s to look back and embrace her true self. "I was trying to figure out who I was," she told the Washington Post, "and then I discovered, 'Oh, I've always been brave. I've always been curious. I've never really wanted to settle."
Like all of us, Jane does still have times when she has to pick herself up. While talking with W, she revealed that she gets over "bad days" by saying to herself, "Fonda, you're resilient, and you've never stopped trying to get better."
On Moving Forward
As Jane enters what she calls the "fifth act" of her life, she's looking back at her past and reflecting on how best to move forward. "If you don't take responsibility for your mistakes," she tells the Washington Post, "you never grow up. You never learn... Taking responsibility and forgiving yourself and others are two of the critical things about getting old."
She also isn't taking anything for granted. Jane gushed to the Guardian, "I'm 80! I keep pinching myself! I can't believe it! I didn't think I would live this long!" We can't wait to see what Jane has in store for the future — especially when it comes to that 9 to 5 reunion and more hilarious episdoes of Grace and Frankie.