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Apple’s Animation Luck : Interview with Actress Jane Fonda

Synopsis : From Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation comes the story of Sam Greenfield, the unluckiest person in the world! Suddenly finding herself in the never-before-seen Land of Luck, she must unite with the magical creatures there to turn her luck around.

Rating: G / Genre: Comedy / Original Language: English

Director: Peggy Holmes /Producer:David Eisenmann, David Ellison, Dan Goldberg, John Lasseter, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger / Writer:Keil Murray 

Release Date (Streaming): Aug 5, 2022

Interview with Actress Jane Fonda 

Q: Do you believe in bad or good luck?

JF: What I think the movie is saying is that it’s not a binary situation where things are black and white. There’s bad luck and there’s good luck. They’re two sides of the same coin. Good luck makes no sense if there isn’t also bad luck, and vice versa. And bad luck, as the movie says, can bring you good luck. It can teach you lessons, if you will allow yourself to learn them. You can grow because of experiencing bad luck.

I remember working with Katharine Hepburn in the movie “On Golden Pond,” and she said to me, “It’s your failures that teach you the most.” I think that that’s true. So I believe that they both are part of life and they go together.

Q: You’re playing the part of the luck-obsessed Dragon. Has luck ever played a part in your life?

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JF: Oh, absolutely. I was lucky to be born, I was lucky to be born into privilege — I’m white, I’m famous. I’ve always worked, but my father was an actor, so I’ve never been poor. You can call that luck.

But someone once said luck is “preparation meeting opportunity”. For some people, opportunity comes along but they don’t know how to seize it and create luck from it because maybe they have issues that they’ve never really addressed and worked on. So in a way, as you go through life you have to work on yourself. You have to prepare yourself to take advantage of opportunities when it comes along. And I have done that.

I have had a lot of bad luck, but I have worked hard to learn from the bad luck and to grow from it and to be ready to make the most of opportunities when they come along. And I continue to do that. I continue to try to make myself someone who can seize the good in situations and learn from them.

Let me give you an example from [Sweden]: Greta Thunberg — Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist who really woke up the world to the climate crisis. Greta Thunberg is on the autism spectrum, as she talks about very publicly. That’s not a good thing, that’s difficult — that adds a difficulty in someone’s life. But she calls her autism her “superpower”. Because of her intelligence and her interest in science, she has managed to use her — you could say “bad luck” — autism and make it something extremely powerful.

For example, it is the fact that she’s autistic that made me believe her when she said “If we understood what was happening, nobody would be doing anything except trying to figure out how to stop the catastrophe that’s coming.” So to me, she’s the perfect example of using bad to turn it into something very powerful and very good. I just wanted to say that.

Q: The director, Peggy Holmes, had such a wonderful career prior to this film, as a dancer and choreographer. What was  your collaboration with her like?

JF: I didn’t know any of those things about her. I didn’t know who Peggy Holmes was. All I knew was there was this young woman — I’ve never met her in person. I’ve always seen her like I’m seeing you, on Zoom.

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She directed me from Zoom.

So all I knew was, “Oh my God, there’s this young woman who is so good!” I will try something and she will give me another idea about how to do it, and yet again another one. She was always full of ideas that were very, very helpful. I loved working with her.  I found her very creative and positive, and very, very helpful as a director.

Q: Did you see “Thor: Love and Thunder”? In that film, your name was mentioned. 

JF: I have not seen it, and I did not know that my name was mentioned.

Q: What is the lucky thing you would want to bring to others the most? 

JF: What I want to do the most is to get people to wake up to the climate crisis so that they will demand that our leaders do what has to be done and stop using fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — and stop burning these things that are destroying the earth. That’s the most important thing we have to do right now. So that’s what I would want to do.

Q: It’s rare to talk to anyone about the time they worked with Katharine Hepburn.

JF: I could tell you stories you wouldn’t believe [laughs]!

Q: I want to hear all those stories. But what about “Luck?” You’ve had such a long, illustrious and storied career. How did you decide to do “Grace and Frankie” or “Luck?” How do you choose what you do these days?

JF: Well, I’m getting old — I’m soon going to be 85. So wanting to get into the voice/animation business makes sense. It doesn’t matter how you look — you can have a bad hair day, it doesn’t matter. It’s just your voice. So this is a good thing for an older person to do. That’s one thing.

I love animated movies, and I’ve always been fascinated by how people use their voices to bring characters alive. Aside from that, of late, I’ve wanted to do things that were positive, that made people feel good and laugh. That showed that older women are still able to have a good time and make a difference. They’ve been mostly women-centered.

I try to do [various] projects but I won’t do anything violent. I don’t like a lot of special effects, personally — although I loved “Top Gun”. Oh my god, it was so good. I want to work on things that are fun. Life’s too short, especially for me. I don’t have that much time left. So I want to work with people I like.

I just finished working in Italy for two and a half months, and I loveItaly. But a lot of the time, it was 104 degrees! So I don’t want to work anymore when it’s 104 degrees. Which is going to be a problem, because that’s going to be the way it is if we don’t do something quickly. So something that makes a difference, that makes people feel good, and where it’s not 104 degrees.

Q: This is your first time doing an animated feature. Could you talk a little more about your experience?

JF: I found it very interesting. In the future, I’d love to be involved a little bit earlier in the process, because I had some ideas for this character of the Dragon. Some of them were incorporated into the movie, and I think that they added a nice layer to the character of the Dragon. I wish I could have done more of that. I’d love to have more input into mannerisms and things that the character does, that it would be fun to give voice to.

What this experience working on “Luck” did for me was that I want to do more of it, and I want to be involved a little bit earlier in the creative process.

Q: Do you have any special icon for good luck? Or maybe there’s something special you would do when you feel like you want to bring good luck to yourself? 

JF: When I want to bring luck to me, I meditate. When you try to empty yourself of everything but your breath, and you follow your breath, and you are still and are present in the moment, something happens to you and your brain that opens you up to new possibilities. I find when I meditate, answers to problems come to me, and I come out of it more ready to accept luck and life. So that’s my main thing.

I also have a little statue of a bear, and one of an owl. Those are the two totems I like.

Q: What did you learn from this story, and why was it important for you to be a part of it? 

JF: Well, the theme that comes out of the movie is not new to me. One of the values of being old is that you’ve had the time to really think about things. Like luck, for example. You had friends that were smarter than you, that were more good-looking than you, and so on. But they went down, either from drinking or drugs, or depression, or whatever — and you’ve succeeded. So as a person, you think a lot, “Why? Why me?” I have come to the same conclusion, in a way, that the movie does, which is that life is not binary.

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My character, Babe, thinks it’s very binary, “There’s good luck! and there can never be bad luck! Banish the bad luck!” Good luck makes no sense if there isn’t also bad luck. And in a way, it’s bad luck that can teach you lessons. So to have good luck, you have to prepare. You know, the opportunities come along, but if you’re not prepared to take advantage of them, they’ll just go right by. So luck is “preparation meeting opportunity”. That is what over decades and decades of thinking about this has led me to believe. And then along comes this movie called “Luck.” This is what it’s saying. So I wanted to do it.

Plus I like the company, Skydance, very much. I’ve gotten to know their executives because they finance “Grace and Frankie” and I really wanted to work with them again.

Q: Are there films that you are fond of or proud of that haven’t gotten the attention that you feel they deserved? A hidden Jane Fonda gem? 

JF: Well, there’s a film I did for television — I won an Emmy for it — that’s so beautiful. I love it so much.  It’s called “The Dollmaker” [dir. Donald Petrie]. She’s one of my favorite characters that I ever played. I wish that that could somehow be reviewed, come out again and be seen by people.

Here’s the trailer of the film.
Nobuhiro Hosoki
Nobuhiro Hosokihttps://www.cinemadailyus.com
Nobuhiro Hosoki grew up watching American films since he was a kid; he decided to go to the United States thanks to seeing the artistry of Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange.” After graduating from film school, he worked as an assistant director on TV Tokyo’s program called "Morning Satellite" at the New York branch office but he didn’t give up on his interest in cinema. He became a film reporter for via Yahoo Japan News. In that role, he writes news articles, picks out headliners for Yahoo News, as well as interviewing Hollywood film directors, actors, and producers working in the domestic circuit in the USA. He also does production interviews for Japanese distributors of American films and for in-theater on-sale programs. He is now the editor-in-chief of Cinemadailyus.com while continuing his work for Japan.

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