3. Art Reflects Life
“When I first saw the script, I didn’t know why the mother was so bad,” Fonda told reporters, “so I had to find her a back story.” Referencing Viola’s multiple onscreen tantrums and flair for drama, she added, “I learned some of the over-the-top behavior from Ted.”
She explained further to LiveAbout, “He’s the only person I know who’s had to apologize more than I’ve. He is an absolute hoot and he is outrageous and he lacks any self-censorship. And at the same time, he’s extremely lovable and I had never known anyone like him. So when I got an opportunity to play Viola, it was like I had permission to be over the top because I knew what that could look like.
“I don’t mean to say that because it’s called Monster-in-Law that he’s a monster. I’m crazy about the man. Absolutely adore him and we’re close friends. Do you know what I’m saying? It’s like, just go all the way, hit for the fences.”
She and Turner remained friends, even though, according to Fonda’s 2005 memoir, My Life So Far, Turner was a serial cheater. Still, “it was really hard to leave—I was 62 years old and I had no career anymore,” Fonda recalled to The New Yorker in 2018.” I didn’t have to work, I was being looked after. And yet I knew that, if I stayed, I was never going to become who I’m meant to be as a whole person, as a really authentic person. And I tried to explain it to him, but he doesn’t really understand.”