All in the family
Son of Henry, father of Bridget, PETER FONDA puts his 60s hippy image to rest with an award- winning performance in Ulee’s Gold.
Words: Anwar Brett
One of the most poignant scenes in Ulee’s Gold comes as a father and his estranged son begin a rapprochement after years of conﬂict and misunderstanding. These moments are all the more heart-rending for the fact that the father is played by Peter Fonda — son of Henry. sister of Jane and father of Bridget. Much has been written about his own dad’s emotional distance. creating an impression of the great actor as a complex. painfully shy man. But talking to Peter Fonda in person. the obvious parallels that might be drawn between fiction and fact are met with the wearied response of a man who has answered the
question a thousand times before. ‘The father-son aspect is
summer stock with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Duvall (fellow Academy Award nominees this year). appeared on Broadway and starred in several inoffensive teen films.
But as the 60s developed a distinct personality. so too did he. Caught up in the counter-
also made some of the seminal
His co-stars included Jack
disappeared from the mainstream
28 THE UST 2—16 Apr 1998
minor part of it.‘ he replies. ‘It certainly is a part of it but the film has nothing to do with my personal history at all.‘ With a smile he adds: ‘I do have a book coming out soon though. It’s called Don’t Tell Dad and in there you will understand everything about me and about
And what a past. As the son of one of America’s greatest actors. Peter Fonda mixed with Hollywood royalty from an early age and turned to acting while still in his teens. Stage-trained. he appeared in
culture spirit. he lived through some wild times but
The Wild Angels (1966). The Trip (1967) and Easy Rider (1969) typecast him forever as a hippy icon.
acknowledged Fonda in his Oscar acceptance speech as ‘my old biker buddy’. Yet the 705 and 805 could not replicate the success of the previous decade and. after the sublime qualities of The Hired Hand. Fonda
but fortunately they’ve been largely forgotten now.‘ Fonda grins. ‘But I’ve had a' good life. I’ve managed
Like father. like son: Peter Fonda in Ulee's Gold
to keep working as an actor. whether on stage or screen. I‘ve been able to support my family and I haven‘t lost my self-esteem.‘
Having remarried in 1972. the family values he
clearly holds so dear may account for his excellent
’l know l did some pretty unforgettable things . . . but fortunately they’ve been largely forgotten now.’ Peter Fonda
performance in Ulee's Gold. The story of a man who shuts off his emotions after the death of his wife. Ulce Jackson is charged with bringing up his two granddaughters after his son is imprisoned and his
daughter-in-law runs away. But when figures from his son‘s criminal past get in touch. he is forced to re-enter a turbulent world in contrast to the relative security of his life as a rural beekeeper. Whether or not this role does hold any personal
significance for Fonda. it has provided a comeback
films of the period. for him. and that is something for which the genial
actor is extremely grateful. ‘My daughter. whom I really admire. loved it a lot
Nicholson. who and that meant a great deal to me.’ he says. ‘But the
best thing happened when l was watching a rough cut on video with my wife. and she said at the end. “I forgot I was watching you". I can hardly tell you how good it is to be back. Actors suffer so much rejection in their careers that all this feels absolutely ‘I know I did some pretty unforgettable things . . . wonderful.‘
Selected release from Fri 3 Apr. See review.
The column that separates the facts from the pulp fictions.
COMIC ILLUSIONIST PAUL Zenon will have to have quite an impressive trick up his sleeve if he's going to pull off his latest project. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe star is up against Tom Cruise for the title role in The Life Of Houdini, a Columbia Pictures film due to begin production in autumn. Considering that Cruise has just escaped the shackles of over a year’s shooting on Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, being strapped in a straitjacket and thrown in a barrel off Niagara Falls will seem like a holiday. Zenon, meanwhile, will appear at the King's Theatre in Glasgow on 15/16 May as part of The Comedy Store's national tour.
THREE GAELIC LANGUAGE short films produced under the Geur Ghearr scheme receive their world premiere at the Celtic Film & Television Festival in Tralee on Friday 3 April. In Dathan, a young priest struggles to reconcile art, faith and love; a lover‘s tryst becomes a nightmare in Keino. when a married woman views a vicious boardgame between her lover and her husband; and in Mac, a trip to Glasgow in the 605 brings together real life and dreams of the Wild West for a young boy. The trio are funded by Comataidh Craolaidh Gaidhlig, BBC Scotland and Scottish Screen.
A SMALL ERROR occurred in last issue's Famespotting feature on young Scottish filmmaking group, The Sprocketeers. Susan Kemp is producer, not 'creator', of Pan Fried, one of this year's Prime Cuts projects. The writer-director is Justin Molotnikov, whose last short, 33:1 screened at last year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. Apologies to all concerned.
Get out of that: Paul Zenon could be Houdini