Jane Fonda's third act

(CBS News) Jane Fonda has played many roles both on- and off-screen. Now, at an age when plenty of people are slowing down, she talks as if she's just getting started. Lee Cowan visited her Hollywood Hills home for this Sunday Profile:

Jane Fonda's view of life from high above Hollywood is pretty good these days.

The fan mail never stops, and no wonder . . . Jane Fonda hasn't stopped, either.

At 74 she can still rock the red carpet. In Cannes last month, she stole the show - something that surprises even herself.

"Listen, I didn't think I'd live past 30. I mean, it's all a surprise to me," she said.

She's busier than ever, with movies and TV series in the works, including the upcoming HBO drama, "The Newsroom," where she'll play a hard-nosed network executive.

What Fonda calls her Third and Final Act is turning out to be a busy one.

"All of us - you know, probably you, too - were brought up with this view of life like an arc," she told Cowan. "You're born, you peak at midlife, then you decline into decrepitude. You know, it's a downward slope. You're 'over the hill.' And I realized, yeah, I'm over the hill, but look at all these other hills - no one told me there were gonna be all these hills!

"And I can climb them!"

Her latest movie opens this week - a role that, to some, may not seem like too much of a stretch. Her character - an aging, pot-smoking, one-time flower child - tries to help her up-tight lawyer daughter move on after a divorce.

"I'm so tired of movies that don't make me feel good. And it's a feel-good movie!" Fonda said.

It's fitting perhaps that the film's title is "Peace, Love and Misunderstanding" - because that's a pretty apt description of Jane Fonda's long and varied life.

From her earliest days in the public eye, she seemed to exude confidence. How else do you pull off the role of a voluptuous space traveler in "Barbarella," a cult classic that she says her first husband, French director Roger Vadim, talked her into.

"All that Barbarella hair was actually mine," she said. "That ain't no wig!"

It hardly held her back. She went on to win two Academy Awards - she was nominated for five others - but Fonda said she rarely felt she was ever good enough.

"I didn't think I could say no to anything," she said. "Because I was always just so astonished that anyone asked me to do anything."

Her portrayal of a prostitute in "Klute" earned Fonda her first Oscar. But she was so convinced she couldn't pull it off, she told the director to give the part to someone else.

"I said to Alan Pakula, 'I've been hanging out with hookers for ten days. I've been to their after-hours clubs, I've been with them when they were with their Johns, and not once did any of those guys try to solicit me. I can't do this. I'm clearly not the type. Hire Faye Dunaway.' And he just burst out laughing and kicked me out of the room."

Her self confidence issues, she says, started early.

Her mother, New York socialite Frances Brokaw, committed suicide when Jane was only 12.

"Parents are supposed to reflect their children back to them with eyes of love," Fonda said. "My mother had duct tape over her eyes because of mental illness."

And being the daughter of legendary screen actor Henry Fonda wasn't easy, either. The two had a famously strained relationship.

"Dad didn't know how to express emotions. It was a certain generation that you just didn't do that."

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