Jane Fonda's take on directors of her memorable films

Jane Fonda won Oscars for Alan J. Pakula's "Klute," Hal Ashby's "Coming Home"
Roger Vadim, Sydney Pollack, Fred Zinneman directed Fonda in important roles

During her 54-year film career, Jane Fonda has been directed by such diverse filmmakers as her first husband, Roger Vadim (1966's "The Game Is Over," 1968's "Barbarella"); Sydney Pollack (1969's "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?," 1979s "The Electric Horseman"); Alan J. Pakula (1971's "Klute," 1978's "Comes a Horseman," 1981's "Rollover"), Fred Zinnemann (1977's "Julia") and Hal Ashby (1978's "Coming Home").

Here's what she has to say about working with each:

• Vadim made Fonda into a sex symbol in a series of four films, most notably the camp sci-fi classic "Barbarella."

"It was very sexy," Fonda said of working with him. "There was a lushness and a sensuality about his sensibilities. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it a little bit less toward the end when our marriage was falling apart and he was drinking a lot.'

• Pollack changed her career when he directed her in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?," a haunting, Depression-era drama based on Horace McCoy's novella. She played a cynical young woman who enters a grueling dance marathon.

"It was the first time I had ever done a movie that was about something relevant to society," said Fonda. She initially wasn't interested when producer Irwin Winkler visited her and Vadim in Paris. James Poe's script, she noted, "was not very good." But Vadim insisted she do it because he had been a big fan of the novella.

Before the film started production, Poe, who was slated to direct, was fired and Pollack was hired. "I remember we rented a house in Malibu and Sydney came to the house and brought the script and the book. He said, 'Read the book again and tell me what you think is missing in the script.' The fact that he asked me was such an epiphany for me. It's like 'Oh God, he's taking me seriously.'"

• Pakula, who directed Fonda to her first Oscar for her role as a New York prostitute in "Klute," "was like a psychologist," she said. "It was like going deep into the psychology of the character. Working with him was like waltzing with Fred Astaire — a flowing, perfect partnership."

• Zinnemann directed her in her portrayal of writer Lillian Hellman. She says it was both a "wonderful and strange experience.

"He almost never did a second take," said Fonda. "I said to [costar] Vanessa Redgrave — how does he do it? She said he casts perfectly."

• Ashby was the exact opposite on "Coming Home," for which Fonda earned her second Oscar as a soldier's wife who has an affair with a paraplegic Vietnam vet.

"He came from the editing room and he would do 40 takes and print them all," she recalled.

Ashby, she said, "had a hard time with people. I think that's probably why he started off as an editor. I don't remember him ever giving us direction. He would just do it again and again and then like a sculptor with clay he would create a performance. I loved the experience with Hal."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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