TIFF 2022: Jane Fonda joins Lily Tomlin in 'Moving On' premiere with touching video message

(Courtesy of TIFF)

Following the announcement of her cancer diagnosis, Jane Fonda was notably absent from the premiere of her film Moving On at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), co-starring Lily Tomlin, Malcolm McDowell and Richard Roundtree. But Fonda sent a touching video message for the audience in her absence.

“Our fourth musketeer is not here at the moment because she's at home doing well and taking care of herself, but I'm so lucky to have gotten to work with her and we all love her so much,” the film’s director Paul Weitz said in his introduction to the film.

Jane Fonda during her video message ahead of the premiere of her movie
Jane Fonda during her video message ahead of the premiere of her movie "Moving On" at the Toronto International Film Festival (Yahoo Canada)

“I'm so sorry I can't be with you today at the premiere of our film Moving On but I love that it's getting this premiere at the Toronto Film Festival,” Fonda said in her video message. “I just love everything about this film from the director, to the script, to the cast, including Malcolm McDowell, Richard Roundtree, and especially my dear wonderful friend Lily Tomlin.”

“This kind of film is getting harder and harder to make and I'm just so glad that Paul Weitz trusted us to bring it to life. We love how it turned out and hope that you do too.”Jane Fonda

In Moving On, Fonda’s character, Claire, and Tomlin’s character, Evelyn, reconnect at a funeral for their mutual friend Joyce who just died. As soon as Claire sees Joyce's husband Howard (Malcolm McDowell), she has a sharp and simple message for him, "I'm going to kill you."

The reason for the rather extreme warning? Something happened 46 years earlier that changed the course of Claire’s life, and she wants to settle the score. Evelyn is the only person Claire told about what Howard did to her all those decades ago, so Evelyn becomes an essential person in this fight for justice. As a subplot, Claire also reconnects with her ex-husband, played by Richard Roundtree, and she's dealing with how Howard's actions impacted that relationship.

“The genesis of it was really after working with Lily on Grandma, I met Jane….I just had this idea of someone coming up to Malcolm at a funeral and saying, ‘I'm going to kill you,’” Weitz said at the film’s premiere in Toronto. “Like Grandma, I like doing movies where, inadvertently, a character, primarily Jane in this case, is reopening doors of her life without expecting that was what she was going to be doing.”

TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 12: (L-R) Lily Tomlin, Malcolm McDowell and Richard Roundtree of
TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 12: (L-R) Lily Tomlin, Malcolm McDowell and Richard Roundtree of "Moving On" pose in the Getty Images Portrait Studio Presented by IMDb and IMDbPro at Bisha Hotel & Residences on September 12, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Moving On is undeniably attractive because get to see the infectious chemistry between Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, again, particularly after seven years of Grace and Frankie. The second Tomlin appears, coming out from a curtain just behind Howard, who’s in the middle of the eulogy for his dead wife, she instantly got loud laughs from the premiere audience, and they kept the laughs going throughout much of the film.

When Tomlin was asked about how she creates such a great dynamic with Fonda she said, “I have no idea.”

“We…meet formally on 9 to 5,” Tomlin said. “[Jane] came to see me at the Ahmanson [Theatre], in one of my one-woman shows, and I was really excited because I was a huge fan. In fact, I wore a Klute hairdo for like two years.”

“She swept in with a big cape on, very glamorous, and I was just beside myself unable to speak, and then the next thing I knew they were doing 9 to 5 and she was casting me in it, and it just went from there.”

While the comedy is definitely there, there are a number of very serious moments in the film, particularly for Claire, whom Fonda portrays beautifully.

It’s never too over-the-top and she has this uncanny ability to pierce through the screen and connect with an audience like no one else. That's also paired with Tomlin's ability to land a perfectly timed, oftentimes sarcastic, joke.

As director Paul Weitz snapped pictures and took video of the audience to share with Fonda, we're just thankful we get to continue to watch Fonda and Tomlin shine on screen together, and we hope to see them collaborate for many more years to come.