Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda Talk Grace and Frankie

Hollywood Icons Share the Fun of Their New Netflix Dramedy

by | May 6, 2015 | Comments

In Netflix’s original series, Grace and Frankie, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play two septuagenarians who are thrown together after their husbands drop a major bomb: law partners Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) are leaving Grace and Frankie to marry each other. What follows is the inevitable fall-out of this double divorce, leaving Grace and Frankie as two single women for the first time in 40 years (and their exes finally about to come out as who they really are). At times comedic, and at other times heart-wrenching, Grace and Frankie shines the spotlight on aging, fulfillment, and relationships in a new way.

Rotten Tomatoes attended a roundtable with Fonda and Tomlin, who discussed why they were attracted to the project, what it says about change, and how they relate to their characters — Grace (Fonda) the uptight perfectionist, and Frankie (Tomlin) the free spirit.


Tomlin and Fonda, Reunited Again

It’s been 35 years since Tomlin and Fonda starred in Nine to Five together, though their careers have crossed paths since. “I’ve even scrounged her into one of my TV specials,” Tomlin said. “We’d just finished Nine to Five so we were really a hot commodity.” Longtime friends, both Fonda and Tomlin were enticed by the premise of Grace and Frankie, and, in particular, how it would focus on people in their age group.

“Way before it happened… my partner and I might be trying to develop something that has to do with older people,” Tomlin explained. “When my agent called me and said, ‘Are you trying to do something with Jane?’ I said, ‘Yeah, sure. We’d like to.’ Then he brought [writer Marta Kauffman] to us and she gave us the notion of her idea. After that we jumped in with both feet.”


Dramedy Is More Fun

Tomlin and Fonda have proven their comedic chops over the decades, but being able to do a show that is both comedy and drama is more fun for them. “I think that’s always been kind of the hallmark of the kind of comedy I’ve done,” Tomlin said. “Everything is not all funny and everything is not all sad… It’s exciting. You have to switch emotions. I’ve always thought it was just different spots on the continuum anyway.”

It’s that balance that Fonda hears about the most in the feedback to Grace and Frankie. “One of the things that we keep hearing from people who’ve seen a number of the episodes is how surprised they are with how real it is and how poignant it is sometimes,” Fonda said.


Change Is Good — in Hindsight

When we first meet Grace and Frankie, their lives are in complete upheaval — and it’s not as though the emotions quickly subside. But for Tomlin and Fonda, it’s the aerial view of these life-changing events that matters — even if it can’t be appreciated in the moment. “You think you’re going to die because it’s so painful and sad when a relationship comes to end,” Fonda said. “Then, after a while, you begin to realize, ‘Whoa. I’m kind of seeing a whole new possibility about who I can be that never would have happened if that person hadn’t abandoned me.'”

“I think it can be so organic that you almost don’t even notice that it’s happened,” Tomlin said about changing into a new person. “It’s not like you’re following it along and observing it… You turn over.”


TV Needs More Realistic Seniors

There is a scene early in the season where a store clerk ignores Grace and Frankie to talk to a pretty young woman. Starting out as humorous encounter, it eventually turns to genuine exasperation for Fonda’s character who’s tired of feeling invisible. It serves as an encapsulation of the show’s purpose: placing older women at the forefront of the narrative.

“We both get enough scripts to know that when you’re an older woman you tend to be… the brunt of a joke,” Fonda said.

“I always resented that,” Tomlin added. “I didn’t like that. If a woman didn’t have autonomy, if she was somebody’s grandmother and they made her into like a doddering little old lady who just put up with stuff and was vague, that just rubs me the wrong way.”


Fonda and Tomlin Relate to Grace and Frankie

So what is it about these characters specifically that attracted Fonda and Tomlin? For Fonda, it was the restrictive nature of Grace’s life. “I [Grace] care about how I look. I have to be thin and all that s—. Then, when it’s all taken away from me, I fall apart because I don’t know who I am. Little by little, I begin to discover, with Frankie’s bizarre help, that it’s really about a whole lot of other things that I never really thought about before. I like that part of Grace and I identify with it.”

“I like Frankie’s interest in a lot of things. She makes yam vaginal lubricant,” Tomlin said. “She paints, even though she doesn’t appear to be much of a painter. She just won’t give it up. I like all that. And I like that she’s forgiving of Sol.”

Grace and Frankie premieres on Netflix this Friday, May 7. See reviews here.


Tag Cloud

Alien HBO Max cults First Reviews godzilla zombies PaleyFest dark RT History ghosts romantic comedy venice sopranos Spring TV Quiz Film Star Wars crime thriller ratings films dogs Lifetime Christmas movies HBO Go Amazon Studios reviews TCA 2017 lord of the rings screen actors guild mcc rom-coms Pixar hollywood crime drama adaptation DC Universe Trophy Talk tv talk casting blockbuster The Purge Academy Awards Walt Disney Pictures Cosplay Netflix Christmas movies Trivia adventure die hard aapi anthology Lionsgate TV movies indie TCM christmas movies Disney Plus Kids & Family Marvel Studios A24 a nightmare on elm street Ghostbusters Turner Classic Movies scene in color indiana jones Esquire stoner Tumblr justice league Reality Competition psycho crime universal monsters Opinion Apple TV+ BET The Arrangement 2015 Stephen King E! book adaptation YouTube MCU National Geographic comic book movie Oscars A&E boxing spinoff trailers cooking legend theme song Sundance TV Musicals foreign Lucasfilm Fantasy NYCC GoT thriller Mindy Kaling Netflix Heroines First Look Mary Tyler Moore Winter TV Calendar Sneak Peek Country popular renewed TV shows vampires Christmas Fox News critics book dc 45 Amazon Prime Video historical drama halloween American Society of Cinematographers new zealand halloween tv finale BBC America The Walt Disney Company The Walking Dead golden globes Schedule cancelled TV shows Year in Review dceu 2017 Adult Swim sports LGBT Character Guide obituary Image Comics Rocketman crossover hispanic Travel Channel Disney+ Disney Plus marvel cinematic universe transformers Epix comedies latino boxoffice Awards Masterpiece Biopics Ovation facebook debate political drama psychological thriller asian-american cartoon BAFTA cats prank USA Network batman nbcuniversal Marathons Spectrum Originals Comedy Central superhero concert young adult scorecard Set visit what to watch OneApp Red Carpet japanese blaxploitation black zombie CBS All Access 99% 2016 Turner TCA cars kaiju Fox Searchlight 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards video on demand Crunchyroll documentaries ID directors ViacomCBS spy thriller Crackle Paramount documentary docudrama FX on Hulu El Rey Emmy Nominations Arrowverse Baby Yoda Exclusive Video classics women Binge Guide AMC Plus ABC Family heist movie unscripted italian Cannes dramedy Hallmark olympics politics Martial Arts movies movie child's play YouTube Red streaming posters TV Box Office vs. ABC genre composers 2021 Bravo discovery Freeform stand-up comedy Rom-Com comiccon sag awards richard e. Grant independent Awards Tour hidden camera serial killer dragons Brie Larson Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt space Black History Month Chernobyl IFC Films Starz all-time Funimation CMT 2018 anime spanish comic worst movies Emmys Anna Paquin Super Bowl Amazon Prime golden globe awards Rock Broadway remakes criterion Toys RT21 travel south america razzies Apple TV Plus Disney streaming service kong Holiday natural history WarnerMedia New York Comic Con rt archives TNT franchise Fall TV breaking bad Food Network GIFs Summer ESPN BBC Superheroes quibi miniseries HBO laika 72 Emmy Awards Family australia Paramount Plus werewolf Premiere Dates Nat Geo Peacock screenings disaster FXX critic resources Marvel Television fresh San Diego Comic-Con rt labs toronto Superheroe aliens VH1 toy story Watching Series police drama NBA GLAAD The Academy nature TCA Winter 2020 Marvel witnail Podcast Writers Guild of America action-comedy Neflix FOX best telelvision art house sequels Pop 2020 spider-verse feel good mutant Women's History Month Universal high school cinemax Amazon Rocky Classic Film kids elevated horror PBS APB japan jurassic park Reality Sundance king arthur zero dark thirty cancelled television mob Sundance Now marvel comics The CW singing competition mission: impossible satire Action romance Wes Anderson Mudbound Teen children's TV period drama scary movies 1990s joker cancelled TV series Elton John Universal Pictures chucky Interview supernatural NBC rotten Apple royal family based on movie Animation live event deadpool Acorn TV The Witch CNN Sci-Fi war medical drama Cartoon Network PlayStation 4/20 name the review USA cops Pacific Islander Discovery Channel basketball Creative Arts Emmys emmy awards YouTube Premium Western TV renewals game show strong female leads IMDb TV saw harry potter dexter festival technology Music spider-man X-Men Britbox award winner VOD suspense game of thrones hispanic heritage month pirates of the caribbean Mary poppins teaser Comedy archives international Hulu Comic Book President cancelled true crime TIFF comic book movies series 007 Shondaland BBC One comics AMC Paramount Network TBS Comics on TV Song of Ice and Fire Vudu Pet Sematary Drama 20th Century Fox Disney robots Mystery hist Warner Bros. mockumentary Photos free movies worst james bond 24 frames Avengers History binge biopic Video Games jamie lee curtis live action CW Seed Hallmark Christmas movies Disney Channel Certified Fresh Logo television slashers ITV parents Holidays Star Trek rt labs critics edition diversity DC Comics Best and Worst DC streaming service science fiction Nickelodeon Film Festival Hear Us Out rotten movies we love Nominations versus Endgame docuseries Captain marvel Musical Shudder spain Countdown news TCA Awards social media SDCC streaming movies Winners wonder woman animated video Television Academy new star wars movies TLC biography Comic-Con@Home 2021 new york twilight IFC 93rd Oscars 71st Emmy Awards Black Mirror Trailer Mary Poppins Returns MSNBC nfl doctor who Columbia Pictures Infographic french target fast and furious Tarantino Spike comic books canceled Instagram Live TruTV Grammys DGA Valentine's Day festivals SundanceTV Syfy sitcom Television Critics Association stop motion Extras Lifetime revenge know your critic canceled TV shows talk show Pride Month Showtime Tomatazos Election VICE BET Awards football green book E3 Polls and Games scary sequel superman OWN FX MTV DirecTV 73rd Emmy Awards WGN Legendary gangster slasher dreamworks Dark Horse Comics reboot 90s king kong monster movies black comedy Tokyo Olympics Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Thanksgiving blockbusters LGBTQ 21st Century Fox Pirates ABC Signature CBS 2019 Tubi TV Land SXSW TV One Sony Pictures adenture See It Skip It Pop TV spanish language Horror Ellie Kemper YA