Jane Fonda had initially turned down ‘Book Club’

ST Correspondent
Sunday, 13 May 2018

The actress who will be seen in a pivotal role in romantic comedy Book Club, had initially refused her role in the film. But only agreed to do it when she was sent the re-written script. The co-producer and co-writer Erin Simms of Book Club says, “The meetings with the actors were hard because Bill Holderman had to convince them to take a chance with him, so many legends, so much happening and a tight schedule. It was tough.”

The actress who will be seen in a pivotal role in romantic comedy Book Club, had initially refused her role in the film. But only agreed to do it when she was sent the re-written script. The co-producer and co-writer Erin Simms of Book Club says, “The meetings with the actors were hard because Bill Holderman had to convince them to take a chance with him, so many legends, so much happening and a tight schedule. It was tough.”

And they only found out the meaning of tough when they pitched the script to Jane Fonda. Erin recalls her situation with Jane and says, “I sent it to her and 24 hours later she came back and said ‘No. Pass. It’s not sophisticated.’ It was heart-breaking and I don’t know why Bill and I didn’t give up. We rewrote the character. At one point, it was her and her gay best friend; at another point she was obsessing over a married man, we had so many story lines. Eventually we realised this character is propelling everyone forward, she’s further along in the journey of embracing sexuality and confidence. She has the reverse storyline. Once we hit on that, the story came together.”

She adds that two months later she still wanted Jane but Bill thought there’s no chance. “I don’t know what came over me. I just emailed Jane: ‘Hey, we rewrote the script for you. Loved your notes, super smart. I know it’s pretty obnoxious for me to ask you to read this a second time. If you feel like it, read it.’

Jane always responds and when she reads the script, she gets back to you. I didn’t hear from her so I just figured it’s over. Then I got this email one morning in bed. She said, “I’m in.”

The film follows four old friends who read EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey and believe it’s the wake-up call that they need to take advantage of all that life has to offer. Book Club releases on May 18. 

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