The second season of Netflix's Grace and Frankie premiered last week after a successful first run, which brought us Jane Fonda as Grace and Lily Tomlin as Frankie. They play two mature women whose lives are completely changed when their husbands divorce them to marry each other. It's an unusual plot for an unusual target audience. To the surprise of the cast, the show has been a hit across all age groups. And to the surprise of the fans, it made Jane Fonda go out and get an acting coach. 

"I’ve never done episodic television before," she told a small group of journalists at a Netflix event in Pasadena.

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When I asked her if she got to watch the first season, Fonda nodded. "I got an acting coach, that’s the extent to which I was insecure, and I sat down with her and we watched every episode together.

And then we began working. And that was a revelation," said the Hollywood veteran

Fine tuning the instrument

The 78-year-old stated that being an actor means you have no instrument but yourself, as an artist – unlike a musician or a painter. She famously left showbiz for 15 years in the nineties and was "fortunate enough" to come back at an older age and actually have a career. "But it occurred to me that I needed to tune my instrument, that I was getting rusty," she continues.

"I also didn’t think I was very good, and I’m a big believer that you can always do better. And just because you’re 78 years old, and you’ve won some awards, doesn’t mean that you’ve got a lock on it." She wanted to understand why it was so hard for her, as she was not used to episodic television. "An acting coach worked with me and helped me understand my character better." She also vowed to keep the lessons going. 

Sam Waterston, who plays Sol (Frankie's ex-husband), found the revelation amusing.

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"Jane Fonda experiences Jane Fonda in a different way than the rest of us," he joked. The actress made an even more jaw-dropping confession when she recalled an instance in which she told a director he should fire her. 

"In the beginning of most movies, I think 'this is who they should’ve hired.' In one case, I actually told the director, 'I think you should fire me and hire Faye Dunaway," she revealed. That movie was Klute, and the industry begged to disagree: Fonda won her first Oscar for the performance, in 1972.