Jane Fonda embraces female friendship in ‘80 for Brady,’ feels conflicted about the Falcons loss

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Replaying the 2017 Super Bowl may be a hindrance for the film in Atlanta.

The basic plotline for the upcoming comedy film “80 For Brady,” coming to theaters this week, sounds like pure torture for any diehard Atlanta Falcons fan: four 80-ish female Tom Brady acolytes travel to Houston to have a little fun in 2017 during that Super Bowl when the New England Patriots rallied from a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter to vanquish the Falcons.

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Legendary actress and social activist Jane Fonda, who lived in Atlanta for 20 years but now resides in Los Angeles, plays one of those four women. She’s Trish, a former TV personality who became a popular author of romantic fan fiction around Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, a Patriots tight end in 2017.

Trish is also gorgeous, falls in love easily and dons a dozen different wigs in the movie. “You know how much it costs me to look like this?” Trish tells her friends in the opening minutes of the film. “A fortune!”

In a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday to promote the film, 85-year-old Fonda admitted feeling a bit conflicted by the fact that the movie canonizes a man who turned near certain defeat into a miracle win against a shocked Atlanta team.

“I’m sorry,” Fonda said. “Atlanta is still like a second home to me. I’m not too happy about the fact the Patriots beat Atlanta.”

But she was drawn to the film because of the message around female friendship and getting to work yet again with 83-year-old Lily Tomlin, her long-time partner in crime over seven seasons of “Grace & Frankie” on Netflix. Tomlin’s character Lou is the film’s protagonist, a cancer survivor who snags tickets to the Super Bowl for the foursome.

“Lily and I agreed to do it together,” Fonda said. “I was clearly going through Lily Tomlin withdrawal.”

She was also thrilled about the casting of 76-year-old Sally Field as the long married math genius Betty and 91-year-old Rita Moreno, who plays a recent widow who has a knack for gambling.

“I’ve known Sally since the 1970s,” Fonda said. “I think she’s so talented. I’m fascinated by her. She wrote a wonderful book. I’ve always wanted to work with her. It’s a dream come true.”

As for Moreno, Fonda worked with her briefly on a short-lived TV series based off the 1980 film “9 to 5.” And go figure: “Rita played Lily Tomlin’s part from the original movie.”

Three of the women are Academy Award winners and Tomlin was nominated for an Oscar and has the most Emmys.

Fonda said when the four legends first got together on day one of shooting, the director had a hard time getting them to set. “We had so much to say to each other,” she said. “It was remember when, or I saw you then. We couldn’t stop talking.”

And while Field is a big football fan, Fonda said she is not. “I’m a baseball gal,” she said. “My second husband Tom Hayden played with older guys in a league up until he died [in 2016.]. He coached a lot of our son’s baseball games and we used to go to Vero Beach when the Dodgers were in spring training. My kids thought Tommy Lasorda was their uncle.”

The movie, loosely based on a real quartet of senior Brady fans, is a pleasant goof with a parade of smaller roles for celebrities like Billy Porter as a choreographer, Harry Hamlin as Fonda’s love interest and Guy Fieri as himself hosting a hot wings competition that Field’s character takes part in at the fan-based NFL Experience.

With Brady’s backing, the film is a love song to the NFL and features actual footage from the 2017 Super Bowl game interspersed with the women finding a way to somehow influence the game and inspire Brady to bring the Patriots back from a 25-point deficit. The way this happened could only happen in a movie.

As the trailer shows, the ladies also work with Porter on a basic dance sequence via another plot twist that could only happen in a movie. Fonda said she had just had shoulder replacement surgery and deliberately stayed in the back row.

“I couldn’t lift my arms properly,” she said.

Credit: Scott Garfield

Credit: Scott Garfield

While shooting the film in the spring of 2022 in California, she didn’t realize she had non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Once diagnosed, she had chemotherapy treatment and is now in remission and back at full strength. “I didn’t have to do the last two chemo treatments,” she noted.

Fonda naturally can’t move at the speed and dexterity she had when she was the queen of workout videos in the 1980s. But she said she works out every day.

“I do things very slowly not because I’m slow but because I want to be safe,” she said. “I make many of the same moves I used to do, just more carefully. I use more resistance bands than weights. You keep moving. You take long walks.”

She said she tries her best to maintain flexibility so she can carry her three-year-old grandchild. “I can still pick him up,” she said. “Barely.”

Fonda was in Atlanta in November to celebrate her 85th birthday at a rented Buckhead mansion and helped raise more than $1 million for the nonprofit group GCAPP she founded in 1995 to reduce teen pregnancy in Georgia. Guests included actress Catherine Keener, Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, author Glennon Doyle, Spanx creator Sara Blakely and filmmaker Tyler Perry. Gladys Knight serenaded her with “Midnight Train to Georgia” and Ludacris sang “Happy Birthday.”

Credit: Getty Images for GCAPP

Credit: Getty Images for GCAPP

“It looked so beautiful,” Fonda said. “It was like I’d died and gone to a star someplace hanging in the heavens.”

She has been busy the past couple of years shooting multiple movies including two more after “80 For Brady.” She and Tomlin star in a dramedy “Moving On” in March where they engage in a vengeance plot against a widower of their best friend who had recently died. In May, “Book Club: The Next Chapter” is set to come out, starring Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen in a comedy sequel to the 2018 hit.

“I am at a point where I just want to make movies that make people feel good when they leave,” Fonda said.

She said she is taking 2023 off from acting. Instead, she plans to spend six months focused on climate change advocacy in Louisiana and Texas, actively trying to prevent the building of more natural gas terminals.

“We have to stop it,” Fonda said. “It’s a bomb on the environment.” She is ready to protest and be arrested, but she said she can’t hold a candle to her “Grace and Frankie” co-star Martin Sheen on the protest front, who has reportedly been arrested a whopping 66 times.


“80 For Brady,” in area theaters on Friday, Feb. 3

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