Bridget Fonda: Will She Ever Return To Hollywood?

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By Nathan Kamal

Actor Bridget Fonda recently made her first public appearance in 12 years, which made a lot of people wonder: where has she been? In the 1990s, Fonda was inescapable. She did dramas, romantic comedies, crime thrillers, even the very ‘90s genre that can be best described as “attractive woman erotically murders people.” For the entire decade, she appeared in movie after movie and nearly starred in an iconic legal drama. Then in the early 2000s, she seemed to disappear entirely. What happened?

BIRDGET FONDA REAPPEARS

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In 2002, Bridget Fonda suffered a serious car accident. This seems to have given her some change of heart as to her career, and shortly thereafter, she retired from public life. She settled down with her husband, legendary film composer Danny Elfman and had a son, who is now seventeen. By all reports, she simply wanted to disengage from Hollywood and raise her child in relatively normal fashion. Recently, The Daily Mail published some candid photos that have made their way around the Twitterverse. This is them: 

It is not terribly surprising that Bridget Fonda would want to retire from show business, considering that she spent basically her entire life up until then in the spotlight. 

BRIDGET FONDA’S FIRST FILM ROLES

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It was pretty much always a guarantee that Bridget Fonda would have a career in Hollywood. As a scion of the legendary Fonda acting family, her name was already more famous than most starlets would ever be. Her grandfather, the Academy Award winner Henry Fonda, was considered one of the foremost film and theater actors of the 1940s and 1950s. His career eventually stretched into five decades. Her aunt Jane Fonda herself has won two Oscars (among many other awards), starring in iconic films like the sci-fi comedy Barbarella and becoming a noted social activist. And Bridget’s father, Peter Fonda, would inspire a song by  The Beatles and become a hippie icon for starring in the 1969 experimental road movie Easy Rider

Easy Rider was also Bridget Fonda’s first on-screen role in an uncredited part as one of the children on a commune chanced upon by Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (director Dennis Hopper). It is a brief role that is now more notable for her family connection, and her first credited role was in 1987’s Aria. A musical anthology film, she received critical praise for her section of the film (as directed by Franc Roddam). Just a few years later, she would become much more widely known. 

THE GODFATHER PART III

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Although Bridget Fonda had appeared in numerous films between Easy Rider and 1990 Mafia film The Godfather Part III, the latter is generally considered her breakout film. Although the third installment of Francis Ford Coppola’s crime saga was generally considered a disappointment across the board, a relatively small role as Grace Hamilton, a journalist attempting to secure an interview with aged Mafia kingpin Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) made an impression on audiences. Her character becomes involved with Vincent (Michael’s illegitimate nephew, played by Andy Garcia), later witnessing him brutally kill two men in questionable self-defense. Her film roles would swiftly rise in prominence and screen time. 

INCREASINGLY LARGER ROLES

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In the next several years, Bridget Fonda would star in a number of different genres of films. She appeared with Michael J. Fox in Doc Hollywood, a charmingly light comedy about a hotshot doctor being from his journey to California to become a soulless plastic surgeon. Instead, he ends up stranded in a quaint, cheerful Southern town where he meets oddball residents and learns something about the peace of smalltown life. You may remember this movie from its unofficial remake, which was called Pixar’s Cars. In Doc Hollywood, Fonda plays Nancy Lee Nicholson, the local mayor’s daughter. She spends the film trying to seduce Fox to get out of her town, with increasingly blunt and hypersexualized come ons. As one does, she actually ends up with Woody Harrelson (in the film). 

In 1992, she co-starred with Jennifer Jason Leigh in Single White Female. Sporting a very ‘90s pixie cut in the very ‘90s erotic thriller, she plays Allie Jones, a software designer in New York City. Jones puts out a classified ad for a roommate (again, the ‘90s), and ends up with Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Hedra Carlson. As it turns out, Carlson is severely mentally unhinged and after changing her habits and appearance to mirror Jones, tries to murder her and take over her life completely. 

But it was Singles (also in 1992) that may have been her biggest movie of the year. This romantic comedy from Cameron Crowe is notable for introducing the world to some of its first taste of Seattle’s grunge scene, which would quickly and briefly become an enormous part of pop culture. As waitress Janet Livermore, she pines over a wannabe rock star played by Matt Dillion. Real life rock stars Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and members of Pearl Jam all appear in the film, and the soundtrack to the film would eventually go Platinum twice. 

JACKIE BROWN, MR. LONELY, BONE

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Bridget Fonda would continue to work at a feverish pace for the next several years. She was particularly noted for her role as surfer-girl stoner/career criminal Melanie in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. She also appeared in Mr. Lonely by an indie filmmaker named Noah Baumbach, who has gone on to become one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed directors. Near the end of the decade, she would appear in one of her last major films: Monkeybone. A notorious flop co-starring Brendan Fraser and Chris Kattan, based off an indie comic book named Dark Town, it became an enormous bomb. While she appeared in a few films after that, the car accident she suffered several years later took her out of Hollywood completely. 

BRIDGET FONDA NOW

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By all reports, Bridget Fonda is simply a private person who has a stable family life with her husband and son. It is actually quite heartening to see someone who has spent their life accustomed to fame being willing to step away from it. And while these new photos of her definitely show a change in appearance from decades ago, that is not particularly surprising. You do you, Bridget.

STILL GONE, STILL NOT FORGOTTEN

It has been 20 years since we have been graced with seeing Bridget Fonda on the big screen. After taking her leaving from all things moviemaking and Hollywood in 2002, Fonda found life much more pleasant out of the spotlight. The year after vacating Hollywood, Fonda found herself walking down the aisle to marry music composer extraordinaire, Danny Elfman. This was also the same year that Fonda was in a horrible car accident that resulted in a fractured vertebra. Through hard work and rehab, Fonda was able to walk down the aisle. Two years later, Fonda and Elfman had their only child, a son. Since that time, Fonda has lived and loved her life in the relative shadows, supporting her husband’s work in the movies while raising their boy.

One of Fonda’s last roles was in a TV movie called No Ordinary Baby, a role for which Fonda was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television. She briefly appeared on The Chris Isaak Show and then played the Snow Queen in a TV movie of the same name.

Earlier this year, Fonda came out of hiding and was caught in the crosshairs of the paparazzi. It was not a flattering look as those who had not seen Fonda in all these years were quite unkind by her appearance. The daughter of legendary actor Peter Fonda and the granddaughter of even more legendary actor Henry Fonda has gone through many changes since we last saw her and people took little time in pointing these facts out.

Ever since social media had a field day with Fonda, she has gone back into hiding. As you can imagine, if Bridget Fonda is not bringing herself out to get in front of a movie camera, she certainly is not going to have a social media presence. Whether we will see her again is anyone’s guess, but with the way social media can be the cruel beast, don’t expect it. That’s too bad because she certainly was a good actor.