Jane Fonda Softened Nancy Reagan Lines in Upcoming Film

Jane Fonda

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UPDATED: In a Q&A after receiving the L.A. Press Club's Visionary Award, the star says the role, in Lee Daniels' "The Butler"; "They had me doing something that wasn't very nice."

Jane Fonda was thrilled to play former first lady Nancy Reagan, a small role in Lee Daniels' upcoming film The Butler, the tale of a man who served eight U.S. presidents. 

But Fonda didn't play the role exactly as written.

"I changed the script a little bit," Fonda told NBC 4 anchor Robert Kovacik in a Q&A at the Millennium Biltmore hotel, in a "lightning round" Q&A after she received the Los Angeles Press Club's inaugural Visionary Award. So she sought Butler's permission to tone down the role, saying she didn't want the the character to do anything mean that Reagan didn't do in real life. "They had me doing something that wasn't very nice."

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Fonda said she wrote Reagan a letter, seeking her advice as she prepared for the part. 

One of the most visible activists during the 1960s, Fonda said she was surprised that Reagan was happy with the actress' portrayal "because back when she was feisty, she wasn't nice to me." 

But as people age, Fonda continued, "We all mellow. We all mellow."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted Ms. Fonda.