Film icon Jane Fonda is ready to branch out her career into yet another exciting avenue. The prolific Oscar and Emmy-winning heavy-hitter is already known for many things outside of her screen work, including fashion, writing, and an extensive history in activism. However, after all these years, Jane Fonda is finally taking a bigger leap into the world of voice acting with Apple and Skydance Animation’s Luck. Certain fans might already be familiar with Fonda’s voice-acting role on Disney’s Elena of Avalor as one of that show’s main fearsome villains, but Luck marks the first time the prolific Hollywood star has lent her voice talents to a feature film, something that she tells us was a long time coming in our exclusive interview.
Jane Fonda, believe it to not, revealed to us that the chances to star in an animated feature have actually never really been in her favor, despite having such a bombastic career. “I’ve wanted to do a voice in an animated feature film for a long time, and I never had an opportunity to do it,” Fonda says. It wasn’t until Skydance Animation offered her the role of Babe the Dragon in Luck that she seized the chance at last. Though her new voice acting role wouldn’t have been such an easy yes if it weren’t for Skydance, who previously financed Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s Netflix comedy series Grace and Frankie. In proclaiming her love for Skydance, Fonda states, “I trusted them, I felt safe doing something new with Skydance. And it was something I could do in spite of being at the height of the COVID pandemic.”
Luck is the first release in a new joint venture between AppleTV+ and Skydance Animation, an effort to give the streaming service an edge above the highly competitive market. In a year that has already seen top-quality animated features from both Netflix and Disney+, Luck is aiming to kick the door wide open for Apple and leave a strong first impression. Directed by Peggy Holmes, a choreographer and former Disney writer, the film follows an unfortunate young girl named Sam who finds herself transported to the Land of Luck, and subsequently Bad Luck, after trying to make things right for her foster sister. With the help of a classic animal companion in Bob, a magical Scottish black cat voiced by none other than Simon Pegg, Sam must traverse this new world filled with worker Leprechauns, anthropomorphic hazmat rabbits, and one feisty Dragon CEO who overlooks all the good and bad luck that gets sent out into the universe.
The concept of Luck is somewhat of a cross between Pixar’s Inside Out and Illumination’s Hop, except filled with a lot more clovers and gold. But the core themes of this tale are all to their own, spreading a universal, much-needed message of selflessness. Much of this can be seen in Jane Fonda’s CEO Dragon, Babe. Fonda expresses that she’s ready to do more voice acting, though only if she got to be as “involved early on” as Skydance Animation allowed her to do with Babe the Dragon. She couldn’t stress more how Luck was really a hands-on project for her, despite her recording all dialogue in a studio separate from the director and animators who were communicating through Zoom. ,
Jane Fonda’s main goal, even with voice acting, is to “shape a character” very early on with the filmmaking team, even more early in the process than some other actors would even dare to get involved. “I’ve produced a number of of my own movies, and I know how to create characters,” Fonda says. “The earlier I can be involved in a project, the better I like it” is the motto and it certainly worked in favor of the creative team behind Luck. Fonda was presented with very early sketches of Babe the Dragon and along with Peggy Holmes and her team of animators, they were all able to settle the quirks and ticks of Babe’s personality way before the character design itself was finalized. Such character choices included how “she’s a little bit vain and how she dresses and behaves.”
Fonda takes proud credit for some of the more peculiar qualities of Babe the Dragon in the final film. She specifies that Babe’s long eyelashes and how “she uses her tail like a boa” were all her original contributions. Going deeper, Fonda mentions that she also personally added “certain ambivalence about the fact that smoke and fire can come out of her mouth, which is not always convenient” in her vocal performance. The real cherry on top is that the name Babe was Jane Fonda’s original idea too. Such collaborations are not always heard of in the world of animation, but when you’re dealing with someone as iconic and awe-inspiring as Jane Fonda, it would be foolish to not make enough room for them in the creative process.
The megastar describes Luck as a feel-good movie that might be especially needed now more than before. Her closing remarks were on the film’s ultimate message of selflessness and how it’s “for adults as well as kids,” falling in line with the very best of what the genre has to offer. The conversation around animated films and how much value they carry specifically when they’re catered to either adults or younger audiences has grown lately. There is much to be said in the discussion, but those looking for a family-friendly animated adventure that has the ability to hit home for all audiences with an all-encompassing message need to look no further than Luck. Above all else, watch it for a colorful, animated performance from Jane Fonda that surely won’t be the last.