EXCLUSIVE: Why Jane Fonda Is the Happiest She's Ever Been: 'I've Worked Hard to Get Here'

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Jane Fonda is finally content with her life after all these years.
 
ET's Brooke Anderson sat down with the legendary actress and Robert Redford to talk about their new movie, Netflix's Our Souls at Night, and why now, at nearly 80, things are better than ever for Fonda.
 
"Right now, I'm about as happy as I've ever been," the two-time Oscar winner says. "And I've worked hard to get here, and I've worked hard to stay healthy."
 
"I think it's important to live life with intention because otherwise you’re just sort of at the mercy of fate,” she adds. “I mean, we all are to some extent. But I don’t know, I just try and take it by the balls and make it my own life I'm talking about."

She also reveals that it wasn't an easy thing to do.

"I wasn’t always somebody that I liked very much," Fonda admits, "and I spent a lot of time trying to become a better, happier...I come from a long line of depressed people, so it takes some work to get over that."

Part of that can be credited to her dedication to physical health and, according to the 79-year-old actress, whom you surround yourself with.

"I lead a healthy life," she shares. "I try to hang with people who have good attitudes because you know who you spend time with matters too."

One person she's spending more time with again is Redford. The movie marks the sixth time the pair has worked together, and comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of their romantic classic, Barefoot in the Park.

When asked what's changed the most for them since that movie, Fonda jokes, "Wrinkles."

But she reveals that her relationship with Redford on the set wasn't easy for her at first.

"There would be times when he wouldn't talk to me except for what was in the script, and [I'd] think, 'Oh my god, I've done something wrong,'" she said.  "I always took it personally like it was my fault."

Redford admits that he was reluctant to star in the film, after having already done the play on Broadway, and that it was Fonda herself who made it an easier decision.

"Jane has this energy and she has this drive that forces things to happen including taking a reluctant male character and pushing him into the spotlight," he says. "And that's what happened in the play and what happens in the film. So, that's why I like doing it again. It was fresh."

After decades of working together, Fonda also realized she could more easily tease her serious onscreen partner.

"On Our Souls at Night, 50 years later...when he wouldn’t speak, I would just say, 'Bob, come on, you look like you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Lighten up, guy,'" she recalls. "I just would rib him about it and I realized, oh, I've changed. I have more confidence and I don’t think it's my fault."

Reuniting for the film was even easier for Redford. "It's one of those relationships that kind of fell into place without a lot of talk, without a lot of discussion," he says. "[It] went back to 1965. We worked together the first time and that was comfortable and easy. It's just been maintained all through the years, so it’s been easy."

The only thing missing from their onscreen partnership?

"I've always regretted that with Bob and every love scene, we had a lot of love scenes in there, they always seem short," Fonda notes.

A fitting concern, since Our Souls at Night, which premieres on Sept. 29, features Fonda and Redford as two neighbors who develop a romance with each other after losing their spouses.

"I find that very poignant later in life, when people are brave enough to take leaps of faith," Fonda says of the film.

Those leaps of faith are something Fonda has handled her entire career, which she still considers lucky to have.

"When I was young, I never thought I'd be 80 and I never thought I'd be working at this age, so it's kind of a miracle," the Grace and Frankie star says. "But then I think, you know, I've worked to make this happen and I feel very, very blessed. I don't take any of it for granted. I wake up every morning thinking I could live in Syria, how lucky that I live where I do and I'm privileged the way I am. I don't take it for granted, and the fact that I'm still working, I think helps keep me young."

"Also, she adds, "I get eight hours of sleep every night. That helps. I really need sleep."

For more on the living legend, watch the video below!