The star of Netflix comedy series Grace and Frankie is in Vancouver for Greenpeace's Toast the Coast event on Saturday, celebrating Canada's coastline and raising awareness of the environmental issues surrounding oil drilling and pipelines.
Ahead of the free event, she spoke to The Early Edition host Rick Cluff about why she's fighting the oilsands, the legacy she wants to leave her grandchildren and how older actors may finally be winning out in Hollywood.
Why did you want to take part in this?
I come from Los Angeles. We just had a big spill in Santa Barbara, not to mention all the other spills, including the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
So the idea that increased tanker traffic bringing the most destructive tar sand oil from Alberta to the coast ... it's horrific to think about what it could do to this most beautiful part of the world ... People don't want to see the world that they love and grew up in spoiled the way so many other coastlines are being endangered and spoiled...
The struggle to stop the pipelines joins together with the struggle to prevent drilling in the Arctic — you don't have to live in B.C. to be impacted by that. This is a global problem.
If Alberta's tarsands are expanded and drilling starts in the Arctic, global warming is not going to be able to be stopped at the 2 C that international climate scientists agree is what has to happen...
I feel it's not just the struggle of people here. It's my struggle. It's the struggle of people all over the world.
What do you make of the response from your government and our government to this?
I'm frankly appalled. I'm just appalled.
My president, who I voted for, and who I admire — and who has done some very good things for the environment in the past — by giving Shell permission to drill in the Arctic has undone all the good he did.
I just don't understand it. He has children who will have his grandchildren. Does he not realize that this makes it almost impossible for us to slow down global warming? But it's not too late for him to withdraw the permits. It's not too late for us to stop Shell from going there ...
I'm desperate. I have grandchildren. I want my grandchildren, in 30 years, to be able to look back and say, "Grandma was on the right side of history. Thank you Grandma."
I wish I could sit down with President Obama right now and say, "Why? Did you think we wouldn't notice?" I think he was hoping nobody would notice...
My peers, a bunch of angry grandmothers in Seattle, just got arrested the other day, God bless them. And there are people here, in British Columbia who've been arrested, putting their bodies in front of the projects to expand pipelines. God bless them ...
There's a history of progressive struggles and standing up for life in this part of the world that I am so honoured to be a part of.
Your Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, just got picked up for a second season. In it, you play Grace, a woman whose husband leaves her for another man. What drew you to this character?
Ever since I was in my 40s, I've wanted to give a cultural face to older women and all their juicy complexities. We get stereotyped in the media and I wanted to change that. I'm just so happy it's a hit series ... people are really liking it. We start shooting the second season in July.
Hollywood has a reputation of being young and beautiful, but in this series all the leading actors are above 70. Do you think there's change afoot on that front, now that older actors are getting more starring roles?
It's a little too early to claim victory but we're moving in the right direction. In fact, I'm feeling pretty good. We're moving in the right direction on all kinds of fronts, in terms of ageism in Hollywood and in terms of stopping big oil ... I feel optimistic.
What do you value the most when you look back over your 77 years?
That I still have the energy to stand up and say no to power, say no to big oil ...
What's so great about being old is I can honestly say I've had a fantastic life. I've lived a full life. I will do whatever it takes to stop big oil in their tracks, and that sounds rhetorical but it's true.
One thing I want to show in my series is how feisty we old grannies are. It's like, what can you do to me? OK, arrest me. I don't care.
What's good is that I'm a celebrity, so if I get arrested that calls even more attention to what's going on.
To hear the full interview, listen to the audio labelled Jane Fonda.