Exclusive! Jane Fonda on the Importance of Female Friendships, Finding Strength in Difficult Moments and Loving Tom Brady

Find out what keeps Jane Fonda going—and why she saw a "sadness" in Tom Brady.

Jane Fonda doesn't plan on slowing down any time soon.

"I'm a healthy, energetic person who loves life and feels there's a lot to be done. And I want to do as much as I can," the award-winning actress and activist, whose cancer is in remission, told Parade.com in an exclusive new interview.

At 85, Fonda's life has admittedly been "full of memorable adventures," and in 80 for Brady she's embarking on a super one alongside fellow Hollywood GOATs Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno and Sally Field.

"We had such a good time," Fonda said of making the comedy, which premieres in theaters Feb. 3. "Of course, Lily and I are old friends and I've known Sally since the '70s and I've always wanted to work with her and I've always been a fan of Rita. This experience was really very special for all of us. We just loved it."

The movie about four best friends who head to Super Bowl LI to see Tom Brady was inspired by a true friendship. For Fonda, female friendships are "lifesavers." "Especially as you get older," she pointed out.

Continue reading for more from Parade.com's exclusive interview with Jane Fonda, including what she had to say about Tom Brady hours after the 80 for Brady actor and producer announced his decision to retire from the NFL.

Related: Jane Fonda Gets Candid About Past Eating Disorder

What's your approach to choosing projects? Is there anything specific that you look for when a project is pitched to you?

First of all, you want a good yarn. And this seemed like a good story that families could relate to. All kinds of people could relate to 80 For Brady because so many people love sports and people love friendships. People want to feel good, and I felt this is a feel-good movie that's gonna make people happy when they come out. And I think that we've achieved that. I think that it's so great to show that older women are big sports fans and could really get into it. I liked that idea. I thought it was gonna be a successful movie, and so I wanted to do it.

Related: Everything to Know About 80 For Brady

Are you a big sports fan or are you a Brady fan?

I'm a Brady fan and a baseball [girl] ... I'm baseball all the way, but I love Brady.

Rita Moreno, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Sally Field in "80 For Brady"<p>Paramount Pictures</p>
Rita Moreno, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Sally Field in "80 For Brady"

Paramount Pictures

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Something that I loved about this film was the celebration of female friendship. How important are those relationships to you?

I think they're lifesavers, especially as you get older. You know, women tend to live longer than men, on average five years, and I think some of that has to do with the nature of women's friendships. We tend to drill down to a soul level, and women aren't afraid of asking for help and expressing their weaknesses and asking girlfriends to be there for them. That's a huge strength that women have, the understanding that we can ask for help and that it's not a show of weakness.

Vulnerability is a beautiful thing and being vulnerable around girlfriends is really, really helpful. And for reasons having to do with our culture, men tend not to do that. They don't say, "I need a hug ... I don't feel good, help me." You know, they feel that it's not right to ask for help, and that's such a shame. It makes me feel bad that men don't have that as much as women do.

Related: Jane Fonda's Advice for Young Activists

Have you always had a tight circle of girlfriends that you can turn to?

No, no. Not at all. On the contrary. I didn't understand the specialness and value of friendship between women until I was in my late 30s or 40s, I think. It took me a while.

What was that turning point for you when you realized that?

When I had a baby girl.

Related: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin: Friendship, Grace & Frankie, 80 for Brady

How would your friends today describe you? Would you say you're the quarterback of your friend group?

Not at all. No. No, I don't think so. We all had our different roles. I mean, Sally is like the mama hen. You know it's funny, 'cause in the movie, she's the one we all recognize as the most responsible and, you know, she is. She's like a mama hen, and Rita's a firecracker and Lily is so unique that it's hard to put her into any one of those categories ... I have a real thing for Lily. I mean, I'm so lucky that I've been able to work with her for so long because she's—Lily can be on the screen and do absolutely nothing and she makes you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.

She made me cry in this film.

Yes, she did for me twice.

Related: Jane Fonda's Net Worth Revealed

You all recently did a group interview where Sally called herself a hermit. How do you maintain friendships with friends who are admittedly reclusive like Sally Field?

I hound them. I hound them, and Sally can testify to that. I will call her up and call her up until she'll come out and have some drinks and laughs with me. But I have to really go after her. The same is true with Lily, too. You'll have to call her and get her to come out and play.

Rita Moreno, Lily Tomlin, Tom Brady, Jane Fonda and Sally Field on the set of "80 For Brady"<p>Paramount Pictures</p>
Rita Moreno, Lily Tomlin, Tom Brady, Jane Fonda and Sally Field on the set of "80 For Brady"

Paramount Pictures

We all need a friend like you! Tom Brady might be the GOAT of football, but on this film, he worked with four of Hollywood's GOATs. Did he ask for any acting advice on set?

He didn't ask me! And watching the film, I thought "Boy, oh boy, he's good." You know, when this morning he announced he's retiring and I'm thinking he could have a career in acting. You know, he's a natural.

Related: Lily Tomlin's Funniest Characters of All Time

The scene with Lily and Tom in the end really pulls the heartstrings.

Right?! Right?! It was quite profound when he talked about, in that little scene with Lily when he talks about what football means to him and, you know, but it's just a game. I just thought he was wonderful.

Did he let you and the cast know that he was going to retire or were you just as surprised?

No! No, no, he didn't. Although, you know, I looked at him and I thought ... he looked sad. There's something—it was kind of sad about his face that night, and I wondered what it was that I saw. Because, you know, he was smiling and everything, 'cause he knows what to do—he's like a movie star. He knows how to handle the red carpets and everything, but there seemed a sadness.

Related: Is 80 for Brady a True Story? The Story Behind the Movie

How was it working with him on this film?

Well, I didn't really have a scene with him, but he did come into my trailer and signed his jersey for me and I did get weak in the knees, I have to admit. He walked into my trailer and the trailer suddenly became so small!

Related: How Many Super Bowls Has Tom Brady Won?

You did share a scene with Rob Gronkowski. He's a pretty big guy, too!

Oh, he's so great. He's fun and he's funny and he's sweet. He gets a big laugh just when he smiles in the movie.

Related: Tom Brady's Net Worth Post-Retirement

In 80 for Brady, there's that scene where Lily's character Lou tells Tom Brady that he gave her strength during her chemo. What gives you strength in difficult moments in life?

It comes from within. I also have a habit of making friends with the things that I'm scared of. I tend to wrap my arms around the things that make me scared and they become less scary.

These women embark on quite the adventure in the movie. Is there one memorable adventure you've been on, or one that you would like to go on?

My life has been so full of memorable adventures. I wouldn't even know where to start. I feel so blessed.

Aside from 80 for Brady, you have Moving On with Lily and Book Club: The Next Chapter coming out this year. Do you ever think about slowing down, or is that not even a thought at this stage?

It's not a thought voluntarily. I mean, my life, my age might slow me down. It hasn't yet, but no. I'm a healthy, energetic person who loves life and feels there's a lot to be done. And I want to do as much as I can.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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