Why Grace and Frankie Caused Jane Fonda to Have a "Nervous Breakdown"

The Oscar winner revealed her first season struggles with the hit Netflix show

By Chris Harnick May 29, 2019 4:00 PMTags
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Jane Fonda has been working since the 1950s, and at 81 is showing no signs of slowing down. But with two Oscars, four Golden Globes, an Emmy and various other accolades, she still has career struggles, including her hit series Grace & Frankie.

While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter as part of the magazine's annual comedy roundtable, Fonda told Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Alex Borstein, Maya Rudolph and Phoebe Waller-Bridge about her struggles with the Netflix series she stars in opposite Lily Tomlin.

"It took me a season to come to care for my character. I had to go back into therapy and start Prozac," Fonda said, noting she struggled to figure out her relationship with her character, Grace.

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"I had a nervous breakdown during the first season and I discovered it's because the very first episode our husbands tell us that they are going to leave us after 40 years and marry each other and that triggered abandonment…oh, this is not a good thing to talk about (chokes up a bit)," Fonda said. "It was a big trigger, and I didn't realize that a character in a comedy could actually trigger something very profound. And so, I love her and I learned to invite her into the room. After the first season, I couldn't have written a backstory for her; and then I wrote 30 pages without ever stopping. But I don't really want to have to be anything like her. We have too much in common as it is."

During the conversation, Fonda revealed she made a conscious decision when she was in her 40s to "be part of giving a cultural face to older women," and that everyone should "embrace" all the peaks and valleys of their career.

"And it doesn't have to peak and then be all downhill. I am over the hill in a chronological sense, but there is a whole vista out there that I didn't anticipate," she said. "So you can reach the peak and then you can go down and it can be just as interesting. It's a good idea not to pay too much attention to what other people think are the peaks and valleys."

Read the whole interview over on THR. Grace and Frankie seasons one-five are now streaming on Netflix, six is on the way.