Fonda, Jane: My Close Encounters with Movie Stars

I have been a film critic and a journalist for close to three decades, and yet I am still intimidated when I find myself in close encounters with the stars, especially beautiful female stars.


Not sure how to explain it, because I am not exactly shy or timid. About five years ago, I was introduced to Sophia Loren (an idol in my entire family during my boyhood) and managed to utter a few polite sentences.


Last night, attending the Sony Golden Globes party for the brilliant “Social Network,” my favorite picture of the year, I noticed a quartet of stars chatting at a table: Director David Fincher, surrounded by Angelina Jolie (Globe-nominated for “The Tourist”), Brad Pitt (who had appeared in three of Fincher’s best films)—and Jane Fonda, slender and gorgeous in a beautiful black dress.


Earlier in the evening, Fonda was a presenter, but watching her on stage and meeting her in person, are totally different experiences.


I have interviewed Jane Fonda several times, most recently when she published her memoirs, but being in a press conference or round table is a rather formal and restrictive situation. For one thing, you’re limited to one or two questions (at most) and you don’t stand close to your interviewee.


Half an hour or so into Sony party, after getting yet another Martini, I literally bumped into Jane Fonda, who, surprisingly, was walking by herself. Ssince the space was narrow, she was so close to me that I felt I should say something. But what?


So I said, “Miss Fonda, I have admired many of your performances, since ‘Barbarella’ and ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ Sydney Pollack’s 1969 film that garnered Fonda her first Oscar nomination.


Fonda smiled and with a nod of her head said, “Really, thank you.”


“I particularly like ‘Klute’ (for which Fonda won the 1971 Best Actress Oscar), which I showed last year to my students in a film class.”


Fonda said: “I like that movie, too.”


I said: “You give an amazingly rich performance.”


Fonda, in modesty, “The whole movie is good.”


Before I knew it, the paparazzi were all over, snapping photos, and my friends grabbed the opportunity and took one too (the one which is posted), but not before asking for her permission.


After an exchange of another sentence or so, a publicist grabbed Jane Fonda, because another admirer wanted to meet her.


There was so much more I wanted to say, but I felt uncomfortable yet rewarded to have met her in person. I then determined to be better prepared and wittier the next time I encounter a star of Fonda’s caliber.