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Jane Fonda Says She Was "Very Shy" Filming "Barbarella": "I Had to Get Drunk"

Her plan to use vodka to feel more comfortable ended up backfiring.

In 1968, Jane Fonda starred in the cult sci-fi movie Barbarella as a human who is sent on a mission into space in the far future. Rather than being a serious take on science fiction, the film—which is based on a French comic series—is campy and sexy. And that's immediately clear from its opening credits, featuring Fonda doing a striptease that has her going from wearing a silver spacesuit to appearing naked while the theme song plays.

Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Fonda shared that she felt "very shy" while filming the striptease and "had to get drunk" in order to do it. Unfortunately, she said, her plan backfired on her when the scene had to be reshot. Read on for more of Fonda's thoughts on one of her most iconic (and infamous) roles.

READ THIS NEXT: Jane Fonda Says Onscreen Love Interest Robert Redford "Did Not Like to Kiss."

She got drunk to calm her nerves, but it didn't work out.

Jane Fonda in "Barbarella"
Paramount Pictures

As reported by Vulture, Fonda shared how she felt about filming Barbarella while speaking at the Cannes Film Festival. "I didn't like it at all when I was making it," the 85-year-old said.

She went on to talk about the opening scene and how she had tried to make herself more comfortable.

"At the beginning of the movie, I did a striptease in space," Fonda said. "I was very shy, believe it or not, so I had to get drunk, and I drank a lot of vodka. The next day when we saw the dailies, a bat kept flying between the camera and me. And we had to do the whole thing over again the next day—only I had a hangover."

She didn't know she would be shown nude.

Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim circa 1962
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Barbarella was directed by Fonda's husband at the time, Roger Vadim. The two married in 1965 and divorced in 1973, though they had separated earlier. They had one child together, Vanessa Vadim.

Fonda said at the Cannes event that Vadim told her any nudity would be covered by the film's credits.

"Vadim promised me it would be covered up with titles, and it wasn't," she said. Per Vulture, she added with a smile, "We aren't married anymore!"

While Fonda didn't feel great about Barbarella at the time, she said, "Now when I see it, I think it's fun."

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Fonda shared insight into how the scene was filmed.

Jane Fonda in "Barbarella" opening credits
Paramount Pictures

During a 2018 appearance on Good Morning America, Fonda shared the story about being drunk during the striptease and she also explained how the scene was filmed. To make it look like Barbarella was floating in space, Fonda was actually lying on a sheet of glass with the camera positioned above her.

"The movie opened with a space striptease. My first husband directed it and he promised me that he'd have the titles covering everything—he lied," Fonda recalled. "But I was so nervous about doing this striptease where I end up naked that I drank a lot of vodka. I was lying on a pane of glass, it was facing the ceiling, and I did it, and I was drunk out of my mind and moving to the song."

As she said at Cannes, a bat ruined the take. "When we saw the dailies the next day, a bat had flown between the camera and me and we had to do it over again," she said on GMA. "So, what you see in the movie now is Barbarella doing a striptease with a major hangover."

She was interested in playing the character again.

Jane Fonda at the premiere of "80 for Brady" in January 2023
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

At the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Fonda was asked by The Hollywood Reporter which of her past characters she'd most want to revisit. Without hesitating, Fonda said Barbarella and shared her idea for a sequel.

"In Barbarella, I had an affair with a blind angel, so I see a sequel: She lays an egg … The egg hatches and a daughter is born," Fonda said. "I'm not going to tell the rest of it, because I hope one day to do it. But then, I play the elder, and we go back to the planet to try to save my daughter from the evil of the planet."

While Fonda's proposed sequel hasn't come to fruition, a remake starring Euphoria actor Sydney Sweeney is in the works, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. Fonda commented on the news in a January interview with THR.

Asked what she thought about the remake, she said, "I try not to."

Fonda went on to explain, "I worry about what it's going to be. I had an idea of how to do it that [original producer] Dino De Laurentiis, when he was still alive, wouldn't listen to. But it could have been a truly feminist movie."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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