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Jane Fonda Says Katharine Hepburn ‘Intimidated’ Her on Set: I ‘Try to Do the Opposite’

“When we made On Golden Pond, she made sure that she was always top dog — and that I knew it,” recalled Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda has an intentionally different style of working with others than Katharine Hepburn. The two-time Oscar winner, 85, and her 80 For Brady costars Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno and Sally Field are all featured on the cover of the February/March 2023 issue of AARP The Magazine. At one point in the interview, Fonda explained she learned how to treat people on set by doing the opposite of how Hepburn handled her when they made 1981’s On Golden Pond. When asked if she’d ever been starstruck or “nervous” around another celebrity, Fonda said, “I was intimidated by Katharine Hepburn, that’s for sure. My God. When we made On Golden Pond, she made sure that she was always top dog — and that I knew it. I think my costars will tell you that I really try to do the opposite and make people feel comfortable.”

Hepburn died in 2003 at age 96. She earned a total of 12 Oscar nominations over her Hollywood career, winning four times, including for Best Actress in On Golden Pond. Fonda scored a Best Supporting Actress nomination, and her real-life dad and onscreen father Henry Fonda won Best Actor for that movie. Rita Moreno Jokes She ‘Got Turned on’ Filming 80 For Brady in a ‘Real’ Locker Room: ‘My Favorite Scene’ Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday. Back in 2016, Fonda recalled on Sandra Bernhard’s Sandyland radio show how Hepburn was a “prickly one” who once told her, “You never could’ve made it back then.” Then, in 2021, she told Harper’s Bazaar that Hepburn was an “interesting woman” and “we were not friends.”

“She was really competitive. She really thought that I was out to win more Academy Awards than she was, and when she won for On Golden Pond I called to congratulate her, and she said, ‘You’ll never catch me now,’ ” Fonda told Harper’s. “What I loved about her was that she took the job of being an elder very seriously. She was intentional about teaching me and talking to me, including giving me line readings, and I found that just wonderful. She did not like me.” Elsewhere in the new AARP The Magazine cover story, Fonda shared a positive costar experience, saying that 9 to 5 cast mate Dolly Parton taught her the value of connecting with fans.

AARP Magazine exclusive: Jane Fonda Says Katherine Hepburn ‘Intimidated’ Her When Working Together: I ‘Try to Do the Opposite’ “I grew up with a father who, if someone started approaching him to ask for an autograph, would literally run away. He couldn’t stand being reminded of his fame. But you know who taught me about the importance of fans? Dolly Parton. Talk about honoring your fans! When we all did 9 to 5, I watched how she interacted, how she listened, how she truly cared and how grateful she was, and I thought, oh, my gosh, Dolly’s right. Our careers depend on our fans! That changed me forever.”

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