Killing It in Prime Time: An Interview With Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda as Barbarella

You can call Jane Fonda many things, but boring, she is not.

From her role as sci-fi sex goddess, Barbarella (which I’ve never seen, but only know about through photos) in the 1960s, to the controversial Vietnam political advocate in the 1970s, to the queen of workout video in the 80s (my mom had these – as a little kid, I loved dressing up in the leotards, sweatbands and leg-warmers and dancing along) to the consummate companion of Ted Turner in the 90s – her life has been one of constant evolution.

Now as author and spokesperson for people living out the “third acts” of their lives (which she calls “Prime Time“), it was inspiring to watch her recently on Charlie Rose, talking about life as a stair-cased ascension, instead of a curved archway that peaks at middle-age, then declines. In our youth-obsessed culture, she is an example that life doesn’t end at 40. In fact, she says she really didn’t start to ‘get life’ until she hit 59 (she’s 73), which for her has meant battling depression, becoming present in her children’s lives, and creating an intimate relationship with a man (which she never achieved in her previous 3 marriages), to name a few.

Her ability to find closure in areas of her life that have plagued her seems especially key to the constant elevation and improvement she describes. When discussing her relationship with her father, she articulated what so many people fear:

“Watching him die taught me that I wasn’t afraid of death. What I’m really scared of is getting to the end of life with a lot of regrets when it’s too late to do anything about it.”

And it reminded me of the Dylan Thomas poem that is a call to arms for individuals of any age:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, 

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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