Jane Fonda Hopes Her New Animated Film 'Luck' Will Encourage Kids to Never Give Up

The activist and grandmother talks about developing her animated character Babe, taking leaps of faith to create one's luck, and her best advice for other parents. 

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 23: Jane Fonda attends the Los Angeles Special FYC Event For Netflix's "Grace And Frankie" at NeueHouse Los Angeles on April 23, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Momodu Mansaray/WireImage)
Photo: Momodu Mansaray/WireImage via Getty Images

Every parent has had a day in which nothing feels like it's going right. Who hasn't burned their kid's toast or spilled coffee all over their new outfit after dropping them off at school? But there may actually be a silver lining to those moments in which you might feel like the unluckiest person in the world, according to the legendary Jane Fonda, who stars in Luck, a new animated film from Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation.

"Just like silence has no meaning without noise, life has no meaning without death, luck has no meaning without bad luck," says the actress and activist. "One of the messages of the film is that you can learn from bad luck. Bad luck can actually make you strong, and I think that that's important for people to realize. You can learn from your failures. There's a phrase that I like: 'God doesn't come into us through our successes and our awards. God comes into us through our wounds and our scars.' And I know, personally, that that is true. And maybe that's a little message in the heart of this movie."

The multitalented performer and grandmother spoke to Parents about what she loved most about her role in Luck—an animated film (streaming August 5 on Apple TV+) about an unlucky character named Sam Greenfield, who unites with magical creatures to change her luck. Fonda also discusses how she's made her own luck throughout her life and her best advice for other parents.

Jumping Into Animated Films

The Academy Award-winning actress might be best known for her live-action roles—and perhaps her popular exercise videos—but she also loves animated films. "I've done a little bit of television animation," says Fonda, who has appeared on The Simpsons. "But this is the first time that I've done a feature film."

Fonda was drawn to the project in part thanks to Skydance, which also financed her Netflix show Grace and Frankie. She also liked the idea of her character, a dragon who's the CEO of Good Luck. And even before the team behind the flick had done all of the animation, Fonda got to work with the director and animator to help shape the character, including her name.

"I wanted her to be called Babe," says Fonda. "I wanted her to be a little bit feminine."

When it came to playing Babe, Fonda most enjoyed scenes involving "complex emotions" or "changes in emotions within a scene." "Like the first time that she sees Sam and thinks she's a leprechaun—and what a tall leprechaun," she says. "And when she was with her workers and cheering them on and wanting them to work out in the mornings, and when she sees her old love again, the unicorn, those kinds of things were a lot of fun."

Creating Your Own Luck

Good luck doesn't occur entirely at random, says Fonda. "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity," she says. "A lot of opportunity can come along for a lot of people, but they don't even see it. You have to work on yourself and become a healthy enough and a whole enough person, so that when an opportunity comes along, you see it and you say, 'Oh, I can seize this opportunity to do something important or good.'"

The actress feels like she's made her own luck by working hard on herself over her lifetime and seizing opportunities. "I've also made myself brave," she says. "Luck can come from taking leaps of faith. 'I don't know whether this is gonna succeed, but I'm gonna make a leap of faith.' You can have wonderful things happen to you when you take leaps of faith. That takes courage and preparation."

What She Hopes Kids Take Away From the Film

One message that Fonda hopes comes across when children see the film is "don't give up."

"Sam has had nothing but bad luck," points out Fonda. "She's come through the foster care system. She could easily just go down a dark rabbit hole. But she doesn't. If you have an unfortunate family situation, don't give up. Make new friends, create a chosen family. They can give you strength."

Jane Fonda's Best Advice for Parents

Now more than ever, people raising kids might feel like they could use a little more luck—and a lot more support. To that, the proud mom of three and grandmother of two says it's important to simply "do the best you can"—and lend an ear to your child.

"We all have to realize how hard it is to be young," says Fonda. "It's easy to be old, unless you're sick. Because by the time we get to be old, we have been there, done that, and can say, 'I've seen that before, that's not going to kill me.' You know what to let go of. But being young is so hard. So we have to be very compassionate with our young people. And we have to listen. You will learn so much. They probably know way more than you think they do."

Fonda points out that it's a particular kind of listening that parents would do well to embrace. "It's listening from the heart," she explains. "It's trying to keep an open heart and really hear what your children are telling you. Now, you have to start as a parent early on to develop the kind of relationship where they will talk to you. Because at a certain point, if you haven't done that, they may not talk to you."

She also encourages parents not to pretend to know everything. "Humility and paying attention is the most important thing—having done none of those things as a parent, I might add," admits Fonda. "I know now how to do the parent thing. But I didn't at the time, and I'm willing to admit that."

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