How Jane Fonda’s Feminist Awakening Collided with Klute

Inside Criterion / Sneak Peeks — Jul 18, 2019


One of the great American films of the seventies, Alan J. Pakula’s crime thriller Klute is powered by Jane Fonda’s groundbreaking, Oscar-winning turn as Bree Daniels, a New York City sex worker and aspiring actor who finds herself drawn into an unsolved missing-person case. Bree is a marvelously nuanced character, portrayed with a forthrightness and lack of moralism that was then unusual for a Hollywood depiction of a woman in her profession. But as Fonda explains to fellow actor Illeana Douglas in the above video, excerpted from a supplement on our brand-new release of Klute, she was initially hesitant about taking on the part.

When she was first offered the film, Fonda—who at the time was just beginning to conceive of herself as part of the women’s movement—wondered if playing a call girl might run counter to the ideals of feminism. And even after she agreed to star in the movie, she continued to have doubts about her ability to realize the role. Watch the clip to learn more about the challenging preparatory research Fonda did for Klute—and the full story behind the iconic hairstyle she sports in the film.