The Ridiculous Reason ‘Grace and Frankie’ Could Have Dropped Jane Fonda

It might have been forgotten just how brilliant an actress Jane Fonda still is considering she took such a long break away from the industry when married to Ted Turner. For a whole new generation, she’s reinvented herself with a new acting vibe in the world of streaming through Grace and Frankie.

Without this hit show — helped in part by co-star Lily Tomlin — Fonda might not have been seen again in high-profile places, including announcing Best Picture at this year’s 2020 Oscars.

According to some recent revelations, Fonda might have been initially removed from the show. During test screenings, her character (Grace) wasn’t exactly loved.

What changed the minds of the producers to keep her aboard? Her prior Oscar nomination/wins and already being close with Tomlin probably helped.

Grace was a little too aggressive in the minds of initial viewers

Jane Fonda of Grace and Frankie
Jane Fonda at the Sydney Opera House | Caroline McCredie/Getty Images for Chopard

When Screen Rant recently compiled a list of facts never previously known about Grace and Frankie, there were some surprising things revealed about Fonda’s role in the show. Apparently when there was testing in front of audiences, many didn’t like Fonda’s Grace because she was just too aggressive in her actions.

Anyone who’s seen the show knows her character can get a little over the top in how she reacts to things. Nobody should blame Grace Skolka/Hanson/Purcell for acting the way she does. Though, considering she finds out her husband of almost 40 years left her because he’s been in the closet for decades.

With the show doing deep-dives into usually ignored issues experienced by women in their 70s, it’s a refreshing new type of narrative requiring a different approach. Unfortunately, showing an overly aggressive woman in her early 70s probably bothered some audiences at first because they aren’t used to seeing every woman in this age range act similarly.

There was all possibility Fonda might have been excused from the show based on the reaction. What kept the producers from making changes? Now that audiences have gotten to know the characters, they’re clearly glad the creative team kept things intact.

Grace gave Jane Fonda a nervous breakdown

Because the show explores women’s themes never before touched on, it made the Grace character all the more personal for Fonda. No doubt the producers could see her strong commitment to the role since Fonda has fought valiantly for women’s issues going back decades.

Many recent interviews with Fonda also has her talking about the nervous breakdown she went through after the first season ended. Her character of Grace was an emotional powerhouse since the breakup of Grace’s marriage reminded Fonda too much of her own life.

Going to therapy and writing 30 pages of backstory about Grace helped her understand the role and use it as a form of therapy about her own failed marriages.

Whether the production team knew Fonda would dig in this deep is unknown, other than Fonda admitting she always wanted to be an advocate for older women’s issues. This had to have been a further clue to the producers in keeping her in the cast.

The chemistry between James Fonda and Lily Tomlin also couldn’t be denied

Had Dolly Parton been added to this show, it would have been an official 9 to 5 reunion. Ironically, this year marks the 40th anniversary of that classic film based on Parton’s iconic song. Having Fonda and Tomlin in the film also set off a lifelong friendship between the two.

As seen in the above film, Fonda and Tomlin had perfect comedic chemistry from the start. Test screenings for Grace and Frankie must have clearly demonstrated this as well, persuading many that recasting Fonda would be a major mistake.

Yes, it appeared the real problem was merely Grace and Frankie saying something new. Because it hadn’t been said in any show before, it had to be said aggressively through Grace.

Let’s all hope for her and Frankie to have some kind of happy outcome since the seventh season will be the last.