Saturday, June 17, 2023

Whatever happened to Bridget Fonda?

“I wonder what kind of satisfaction I would have with where I am now if I wasn’t part of a family that has done such phenomenal work. I wonder what it would feel like to know that you’ve made it completely under your own steam. I sometimes wonder if I would be more at peace if I could know I made it by myself, instead of always wondering how many times my name got me in the door.”

- Bridget Fonda, cover story for Movieline, 1993

Bridget Fonda has an amazing acting pedigree.  In fact, one could say she was born into an acting dynasty.  Her grandfather was Hollywood great Henry Fonda.  Her aunt is Academy Award winner Jane Fonda.  Therefore, it is not surprising that Bridget followed in the footsteps of  the members of her famous kin.  At the age of 38, however, Bridget made a decision to step away from her acting career.  She simply disappeared from the spotlight after garnering some 49 film and television credits.

Bridget Jane Fonda was born in Los Angeles, California on January 27, 1964.  She is the daughter of actor Peter Fonda (1940-2019), Henry's son and Jane's younger brother.  Peter wed Susan Jane Brewer, an artist, in 1961.  The couple had two children, Bridget and her younger brother Justin (born July 9, 1966).

Bridget made her film debut at the age of five as an extra in 1969's Easy Rider, her father Peter's most well known movie.  She played the role of a child in the hippie community visited by motorcyclists played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper during their journey across America.

Bridget attended the exclusive Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles.  In high school, she landed a role in the school's production of Harvey, a well-known play by American playwright Mary Chase.

Bridget's parents divorced in 1974.  The following year, Pater Fonda married Portia Rebecca Crockett, the former wife of American author Thomas McGuane.  It was Crockett who raised Bridget and Justin, as well as their older stepbrother, Thomas McGuane, Jr.  

At the age of 18, Bridget enrolled at New York University, where she spent four years of her life.  She studied drama at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, the famed method acting school, as part of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts acting program.  Bridget graduated from NYU in 1986.  A few years after leaving NYU, she was cast in her first major film role, portraying Mandy Rice-Davies in the 1989 film Scandal, based on the 1963 Profumo scandal in Britain.  For her performance in Scandal, Bridget was nominated for a Golden Globe Award fir Best Supporting Actress.

Bridget had a breakthrough role as a journalist named Grace Hamilton in The Godfather Part III (1990).  She also appeared in  Frankenstein Unbound (1990), Doc Hollywood (1991) and she had the lead role in Single White Female, a 1992 thriller.  Bridget followed Single White Female with a role in another 1992 film, Cameron Crowe' ensemble comedy Singles, alongside Matt Dillon, Kyra Sedgwick, Campbell Scott, Bill Pullman and others.  Many critics called her Hollywood's new "It" girl.        


Bridget starred in Point of No Return, a 1993 an American remake of the 1990 French film Nikita.  In 1997, director Quentin Tarantino offered her the part of Melanie in the crime film Jackie Brown.  She went on to star in Lake Placid, a 1999 comedy horror film and to co-star with Jet Li in the 2001 action thriller Kiss of the Dragon.  She has not appeared in a feature film role since the 2001 romantic American-Canadian romantic comedy The Whole Shebang, co-starring Stanley Tucci and Giancarlo Giannini.

Bridget played the title character in the 2002 made-for-television film Snow Queen, based on the 1844 story The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.  Snow Queen was Bridget's last acting role before she disappeared from the public eye.

Although Bridget appeared in a number of films in the late 1990s and early 2000s, she was not widely recognized by the public.  In 1992, she told the New York Times that nobody on the street recognized her.  "But I love that," she added, "because it gives you someplace to go."  

On February 27, 2003, Bridget was involved in a serious car crash in Los Angeles.  She suffered a fracture in her vertebra when she flipped and crashed her 1998 Jaguar XK8 sports car, along a Malibu stretch of highway.  That same year, Bridget became engaged to film composer, singer/songwriter Danny Elfman. In the early 1980s, Danny was the frontman for the new wave band Oingo Boingo.

Danny Elfman

Bridget and Danny married on  November 29, 2003.  They had a son, Oliver Henry Milton Elfman (born in Los Angeles on January 21, 2005).

After her engagement to Danny Elfman, Bridget Fonda stepped away from acting to concentrate on family life.  She has never returned to the screen.  These days, Bridget maintains a low profile and prefers to avoid the limelight.  

In January of 2021, Bridget was seen publicly in photographs for the first itime n 12 years (She was last seen in public in 2009 with Danny at the premiere of the film Inglorious Bastards.  On her 58th birthday, Bridget was spotted running errands.  She was barely recognizable without makeup, wearing glasses and  dressed in a black-and-white striped jersey top and black sweatpants.


* Bridget's father, Peter Fonda, passed away on August 16, 2019 at the age of 79.  He died of respiratory failure due to lung cancer.  Bridget's mother, Susan Brewer (born May 12, 1939) did not remarry after her divorce from Peter.

* The late Larry Hagman of Dallas fame was Bridget's godfather.

* From 1990 to 1998, Bridget lived with actor Eric Stoltz.  From 1999 to 2002, she dated country musician Dwight Yoakam.

* According to reports, Bridget was offered the lead role in the television series Ally McBeal 1997) She apparently turned it down because she wanted to focus on her movie career.  The role went to Calista Flockhart instead and the show became a popular and critical hit.    

* In December of 2001, Bridget as a Christmas lingerie model for H&M

* Bridget was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her performance as Anne in the 1997 television film In the Gloaming.  She was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television for her role in the 2001 TV drama No Ordinary Baby (also known as After Amy).

* Bridget is a stepmother as Danny has two adult children, Lola and Mali, from a previous marriage to Geri Eisenmenger.

SOURCES: Newsner, "Why you don't hear from Bridget Fonda anymore," October 15, 2020; New York Post Page Six, "Bridget Fonda seen for first in 12 years on 58th birthday,," by Dana Kennedy, January 27, 2022; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

- Joanne