Life imitates art! Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin have portrayed best friends in various movie and TV roles, and their real friendship is just as sweet.
“I was developing a movie called 9 to 5 and it was not cast yet. None of [my friendship with Lily or Dolly Parton] existed [yet],” Fonda said during a May 2022 appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show. “I was developing it as a dark comedy and I heard Lily Tomlin is in downtown L.A. doing a one-woman show, called ‘Appearing Nightly,’ and I went by myself and I was just knocked off my feet. I was totally smitten by her.”
After laughing throughout Tomlin’s comedy set, the Barbarella star knew she “couldn’t make a movie about secretaries” without the two-time Tony Award winner.
“I was totally knocked over because I was such a fan of Fonda’s and I had a Klute hairdo and everything,” Tomlin told Kelly Clarkson of their first meeting, referring to Fonda’s character in the 1971 movie of the same name. “When she came backstage, it was really exciting for me. … I was [starstruck]!”
Following the success of 1980’s 9 to 5, the two actresses have since starred opposite Moving On and 80 for Brady, which are slated for a 2022 and 2023 theatrical release, respectively. The pair also portrayed the title characters in Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, which aired its seventh and final season in April 2022.
“[We shared] a trailer with a very thin wall between so I can hear everything,” Fonda jokingly said of filming Grace and Frankie during an appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden after wrapping the comedy series. “And basically, she destroyed my life because, you know, I am sitting there seriously while my very creative team makes me look human and there’s no laughter or anything. And from the other side, the whole morning, … [I hear so much] laughter, like, from the gut.”
The Book Club actress’ working relationship with Tomlin has since transitioned into a close personal one long after cameras stop rolling.
“I think when you are our age, you’ve had many friends who’ve passed. And so, those who are still with you become even more precious,” Fonda said during a May 2022 appearance on the Los Angeles Times’ “The Envelope” podcast. “And women, on average, tend to live longer than men. And female friendship is very different than male friendship, you know, women look at each other eye to eye, heart to heart. We ask for help when we need it. We put our arms around each other and say, ‘I’m hurting. I need help. Help me.’”
Sign up for Us Weekly’s free, daily newsletter and never miss breaking news or exclusive stories about your favorite celebrities, TV shows and more!
Scroll below for Fonda and Tomlin’s sweetest quotes about their friendship: