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In 'Our Souls At Night,' Robert Redford And Jane Fonda Stage A Twilight Reunion

Fifty years after playing newlyweds in<em> Barefoot In The Park</em>, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda are co-starring again in the new film <em>Our Souls At Night</em>.
Kerry Brown
Fifty years after playing newlyweds in Barefoot In The Park, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda are co-starring again in the new film Our Souls At Night.

Fifty years ago, Jane Fonda and Robert Redford played newlyweds in the classic comedy Barefoot In The Park. In the new film Our Souls At Night, they reunite as a different pair of bedfellows.

Fonda's Addie Moore is a widow who works up the courage to ask her neighbor, the widower Louis Waters (played by Redford), to sleep with her. Her request isn't for sex, but for platonic company. Of course, their small town begins to gossip, and their relationship becomes romantic over time.

The Netflix production is based on Kent Haruf's eponymous book. When Redford read it, he sent it to Fonda right away.

"She's all I thought of," he says. "When I read the book, she's all I thought of."

Fonda interjects: "Because he's smart."

Interview Highlights

On working together again

Jane Fonda:I never thought I'd get a chance to do this towards the end of my life. It's like bookends — there was [The] Chase and Barefoot In The Park, and then Our Souls At Night at the other end of life. That just felt really good.

Robert Redford:I feel the same way that Jane did. I enjoyed working with her over the years because we developed a rhythm that was natural and easy — didn't require a lot of discussion or psychological exploration or anything like that. It just was. And also, I thought considering Jane and her life, and who she is — [Addie is] wonderful character to portray because she's a driving force. And Jane herself is a driving force.

On being criticized about political activism

Redford: I've experienced that most of my adult life. But on one hand, you don't want to spend your whole life rebutting everything that comes your way, particularly when it's coming from an ignorant place. It's just going to happen. You could waste a lot of your time debating or taking on every criticism that comes your way. It's just going to happen. You're a lightning rod in that respect. All we have to do is focus on what you really care about.

Fonda: You know, the thing about actors always being criticized for speaking out — the fact is, because we are well-known, we amplify the voices of those who can't always be heard. We help their voices, like we're repeaters at the top of mountains, get out of the valley and over the mountaintops to reach a broader audience. And that's why people who don't agree with you attack you — because it's effective and they don't want it to continue. So I view it as a good sign when people attack us and say, 'You're an actor, you have no right to be talking about fair wages,' and things like that.

Sarah Handel and Viet Le produced and edited this interview for broadcast, and Patrick Jarenwattananon adapted it for the Web.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.