Jane Fonda says her character’s plotline in the first season of the show “Grace and Frankie” proved to be an emotional trigger that led her to have an emotional breakdown.
Fonda appears as one of the title characters in the Netflix series, which is based on two friends brought together under unusual circumstances.
“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,” she said during a roundtable discussion organized by The Hollywood Reporter.
“Grace and Frankie,” which also stars Lily Tomlin, made its debut on the streaming service in 2015. Fonda was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2017 for her portrayal of Grace Hanson.
Fonda, 81, began to choke up as she recalled the difficulty of playing a character so close to her heart.
“It was a big trigger, and I didn’t realize that a character in a comedy could actually trigger something very profound,” she said. “And so I love her and I learned to invite her into the room.”
Fonda was joined in the interview by actors Tiffany Haddish, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alex Borstein, Regina Hall, Natasha Lyonne and Maya Rudolph.
Fonda said she has grown to appreciate Grace, but doesn’t necessarily want to emulate her.
“After the first season, I couldn’t have written a backstory for her; and then I wrote 30 pages without ever stopping,” she said. “But I don’t really want to have to be anything like her. We have too much in common as it is.”
Fonda has opened up about other health battles she’s faced over the years. In a recent interview with British Vogue, she revealed she has overcome multiple forms of cancer.
“I’ve had a lot of cancer,” she said. “I was a sun-worshipper. When I have a day off, I frequently go to my skin doctor and have things cut off me by a surgeon.”
Fonda also disclosed she had undergone surgery for breast cancer shortly before attending the 2016 Golden Globes as a best supporting actress nominee.
“I get out of the car and I have the strange white dress with all the ruffles? That’s because I’d just had a mastectomy and I had to cover my bandages,” she said.