This weekend marked the premiere of Skydance’s first animated feature film, Luck. The movie, which is available in select theaters and Apple TV+, features Jane Fonda as Babe the Lucky Dragon. According to Discussing Film, Fonda is hoping that this will be the start of a new branch of her career!
“I’ve wanted to do a voice in an animated feature film for a long time, and I never had an opportunity to do it.”
Fonda went on to state that previous attempts at landing a role in an animated feature film were never in her favor, which is quite surprising considering her extensive career! It wasn’t until Skydance offered her the role of Babe that she was able to finally have her chance. Though it is worth noting that Fonda and Skydance have a bit of history, since the company produced the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, of which Fonda starred in.
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“I trusted them, I felt safe doing something new with Skydance. And it was something I could do in spite of being at the height of the COVID pandemic.”
Before she got her lucky chance, Fonda’s only previous voice acting experience was the evil sorceress Shuriki in Disney Channel’s Elena of Avalor. Shuriki was one of the primary villains of the show, who was responsible for Elena’s initial imprisonment in the Amulet of Avalor. But while her role in television was definitely admirable, it still wasn’t a feature film.
Luck is the story of Sam, a human girl who is plagued by bad luck all her life. One day, she finds an authentic lucky penny that would be perfect for helping her friend get adopted. But when she flushes it down the toilet by accident, she travels to the Land of Luck in order to get it back. The film is Skydance Animation’s first attempt at competing against the likes of Disney+ and Netflix when it comes to direct to streaming animated film.
One Lucky Dragon
Fonda confirmed to Discussing Film that she was willing to step into voice acting again, though only if she could be involved early on like with Skydance. Peggy Holmes, the director of Luck, spoke with Brief Take about how intimate Fonda was with the process.
“She’s a very curious person who wants to understand how everything works. We brought her into the process early. We had our story team, it’s about 10 and 12 people, actually pitch her the sequences (all over Zoom, mind you). They actually showed her the storyboard sequences as they were work in progress so she could see how we make the movie. Watching her take in those drawings and start to put that dragon into her body was just incredible! It was just incredible to watch Jane just completely embody this 40-foot dragon. She had this great idea when we were pitching the storyboards to her. She goes ‘wait, I have a really long tail. Why don’t I wrap it around myself like a boa?’ So that was Jane’s idea and it’s in the movie! It was so fun and really collaborative to work with her.”
Jane further elaborated with Discussing Film about her process, stating about how important it is that she has a hand in creating her character.
“I’ve produced a number of my own movies, and I know how to create characters. The earlier I can be involved in a project, the better I like it.”
Other details about the character that Fonda takes credit in are Babe’s signature long eyelashes, the spontaneous nature of her dragon fire, and even the dragon being named Babe! For a voice actor to be so involved in the character is very uncommon in the industry. Usually, the designers and artists take inspiration from the actor in order to tweak and develop the characters. But Fonda decided to take the next step forward, which sounds exactly like the sort of thing she would do as both a veteran actor and activist! Perhaps Babe will bring Fonda a bit of luck so she can jump back into the industry again for another round.