Fonda has 55 years in the business and two best actress
Oscars on her shelf for 1978's "Coming Home" and 1972's "Klute."
But in her new comedy film "This is Where I Leave You," she was
in awe of co-stars Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver and Ben
Schwartz when it came to going off script.
Fonda spoke to Reuters about playing the vivacious mother of a
dysfunctional family, the chemistry with her cast and her new
Q: What drew you to the role of Hilary?
A: Well, I am 76 and it is unusual to find a character that is
multidimensional, funny, sassy and still has some libido going
for her. People don't write those kind of roles for older women
I liked the fact that it was a very well written film that had
many different parts to it. It was funny, but it was also
poignant. That doesnít happen often enough and I am so proud of
Warner Bros that they stood behind a film like this. A big
studio these days, they go for the tent poles and special
effects, so I really want the movie to do well so that it will
encourage more studios to do more films like this.
It spoke to family dysfunction which is universal and it showed
that in spite of those issues we can heal and forgive.
Q: You say dysfunction, but I wouldnít mind being a part of this
A: Well it shows where you are coming from! Fortunately,
Jonathan Tropper (author of the novel that inspired the film)
found a way of writing about this kind of dysfunction that makes
it kind of lovable. But it must be kind of hard if it was in
They are all very wonderful, wonderful actors saying great words
and some times it is their own words. I mean Tina and Jason were
improvising. Really great, funny stuff that came out of their
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Q: What was the chemistry like on set?
A: We got along really well. We shot it at a house on Long Island
and we just got to the house to work in the morning and stayed and
got to know each other. We looked forward to coming to work.
Q: Did you feel like the elder stateswoman of this cast?
A: No, I felt like a student because I can't do what they do. I can
improvise. I improvised most of "Coming Home." But I don't know how
to improvise comedy. I've done like Neil Simon comedies, but you say
the words that were written and you donít improvise.
They have a whole other gift. When the film was over, Ben Schwartz
got me into Upright Citizens Brigade and I tried. You either were
born with that gene, and you can hone it and make it better. But if
you weren't born with it, you can't do it. I donít have that kind of
So, I just watched in awe and paid close attention and paid a lot of
attention to Adam Driver. I mean this guy you could watch him
forever and be fascinated. He is so interesting. His choices, his
energy, his instincts as an actor are peerless.
I thought 'Whatís big deal?' Yeah, I saw him once, Adam Driver, in
'Girls.' And then from the very first table read, I thought 'Oh my
God, Iíve never seen this before.' He is just unique and he is my
new favorite actor.
Q: Are you looking for more comedy roles?
A: I am making a series right now with Lily Tomlin for Netflix that,
like this film, has drama as well.
I love doing comedy. I would also love to do a drama again. You go
for the word. You follow the good word. If it's written well, you go
(Reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Cynthia
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