Courtesy of NBC

The veteran actor shows an inspiring way to rise above ageism.

By John Patrick Pullen
September 27, 2017

Jane Fonda appeared on Megyn Kelly’s new daytime talk show, Megyn Kelly Today to promote her latest film, Our Souls at Night, along co-star Robert Redford Wednesday morning. The interview, which took place during the third hour of The Today Show covered a lot of ground with with the veteran actors, from their young Hollywood success to having starring roles near age 80. The chat was light and jovial—until it veered wildly off course, when Kelly asked Fonda about her plastic surgery.

“Do we really want to talk about that now?” replied Fonda, looking around bewilderedly and then towards Redford seemingly asking, “Is this really happening?”

That it did happen (with a trio of big names, no less) makes it newsworthy. But what deserves even more attention was the adept way Fonda and Redford handled it.

The setup for Kelly’s question began earlier in the interview. “There is obviously ageism in a lot of businesses, including in Hollywood, so it’s nice to see not just a woman driving this story but two older actors front-lining. Have you felt that?” the former Fox News anchor asked. The two actors answered the question without incident, and happily discussed their lives as aging artists.

But after the commercial break, Kelly returned to the topic, focussing on both Fonda and Redford’s legendary looks. After strolling down memory lane with Redford a bit, Kelly turned to Fonda.

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“You’ve been an example to everyone in how to age beautifully, with strength, and unapologetically. You admit you’ve had work done, which I think is to your credit, but you look amazing,” she said. “I’ve read that you’ve said that you felt you’re not proud to admit that you’ve had work done. Why not?”

That was when that Fonda asked if this was the right topic of discussion. Then she thanked Kelly for the compliment and quickly moved on to what was important to her—the film. “Let me tell you what I love about this movie we did, Our Souls at Night, rather than plastic surgery,” she said.

Kelly’s next question went to Redford, where she asked him if there’s anyone else he wants to work with. Redford dodged the question, returning not only to Our Souls at Night, but specifically Fonda’s role in it. “As long as I’ve known Jane, she’s always been moving forward and doesn’t look back,” says Redford. “Whatever problem’s she’s had in the past, remains in the past. It’s an admirable quality, and very few people have it like Jane does.”

The comment wasn’t just a compliment—though it made Fonda smile and put her at ease—it was also a call to embrace the moment and use her experience, rather than feel anchored by it.

So when Kelly wrapped up the interview with a softball question, Fonda was ready. “If you could go back to any age in your life, what would it be,” Kelly asked both actors.

Redford replied that he’d like to return to the years just before he became a teenager because, “there was a little space where you could mess around and not get punished for it.”

“Right now,” Fonda answered, looking at Kelly. “I wouldn’t want any other time.”

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