What the Hell Happened to Bridget Fonda?
Bridget Fonda came from Hollywood royalty. Peter Fonda is her father and Jane Fonda is her aunt. Her grandfather was the legenday Henry Fonda.
In the late 80’s, Bridget Fonda was hailed as one of America’s most promising young actresses. In the early 90’s, she seemed poised for a break-out that never happened. And then, she disappeared faster than you can say “Steve Guttenberg in the 90’s”.
What the hell happened?
This one actually has a fairly simple explanation. Fonda basically walked away from her career to start a family with former Oingo Boingo frontman and current movie soundtrack composer, Danny Elfman. I figure we may as well get that out of the way up front so the answer won’t seem too anti-climactic. But What the Hell Happened articles are more about they journey than the destination. So, let’s walk through Fonda’s career so we can appreciate what she left behind for the love of Jack Skellington.
Yeah, keep on smiling, Oingo Boingo!
At the age of four, Fonda appeared in her father’s 1969 cult classic, Easy Rider.
Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper played hippies who ride motorcycles across the American Southwest. Along the way, the two come across a commune where they stay for the day. Four-year-old Bridget played one of the kids in the commune.
Cameron originally wrote The Terminator with Bridget Fonda in mind to play Sarah Connor. In the original script, the character was much younger. Had Fonda agreed, The Terminator would have been her movie debut. When she passed, several actresses were considered. Debra Winger was cast but changed her mind before filming started. Eventually Linda Hamilton landed the role.
Fonda’s first credited role wasn’t until 1987’s Aria.
Aria asked the question, “What can we do to sex up opera?” The answer turned out to be to “add some sex scenes”. Viewers were treated to opera, pretension and nudity. I believe I saw it twice. I was really into pretentious opera movies at the time.
Fonda’s segment centered on a young couple who consummate their relationship in Las Vegas and then try unsuccessfully to commit suicide. All set to “Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde. Seven minutes, well spent.
I tease Aria. It was actually a very well-regarded art film. It won the Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival that year. And it had Elizabeth Hurley naked. Sixteen-year-old lebeau approved of both.
In 1988, Fonda appeared in You Can’t Hurry Love. Apparently, someone thought it would be a good idea to make a romantic comedy starring David Leisure. You know, Joe Isuzu. Yeah, that guy.
Fonda’s career was not off to a great start.
Things started looking up in 1989. First, Fonda scored a juicy role in the British drama, Scandal.
Scandal starred John Hurt and Joanne Whalley (future wife and eventually ex-wife of Val Kilmer). It was a fictionalised account of the Profumo Affair – a well-known British sex scandal which was documented in Anthony Summers’ book Honeytrap.
The movie caused quite a stir in Europe. It was nearly rated X in the US. Apparently, some of the extras in the orgy scene were taking their roles a little too seriously. They were going all method-acting on a piano in the background. The couple was out of focus, but the MPAA (who apparently scrutinized the footage to determine whether or not an actual sex act was being performed) insisted that the offending out-of-focus non-simulated fornication be cut from the orgy scene.
Although most American audiences never heard of the Scandal, it received very good reviews. Fonda was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.
Fonda also starred opposite Blair Brown and Bruno Ganz in the indie drama, Strapless.
Brown played an expatriate American doctor in London who becomes involved with a mysterious man played by Ganz. Fonda played her younger sister who helps her loosen up.
Reviews were mixed. Miramax gave Strapless a limited release in the US.
Later that year, Fonda appeared in the 60’s road movie, Shag.
Shag takes place in 1963. Phoebe Cates plays a girl with a rich but boring fiance. Fonda and Annabeth Gish play her friends who take her on a road trip for one last adventure before her nuptials. Page Hannah (sister of 80’s mermaid, Daryl Hannah), also appears as an uptight senator’s daughter.
Shag got mostly positive reviews, but flopped at the box office. It has developed a cult following in the years since its release.
Posted on October 7, 2012, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged bridget fonda, entertainment, jackie brown, lake placid, movies, shag, single white female, the godfather. Bookmark the permalink. 184 Comments.