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Film Appreciation... Peter Fonda


Peter Fonda said that he didn't have to look far to find a model for Ulee Jackson, the taciturn, emotionally constricted hero of his oscar nominated film, "Ulee's Gold". The answer lay in his own past: He based his portrayal on his father, Henry Fonda.

"The way my dad was in real life was totally different from the way you perceive him on screen," Fonda said. "He could get up on stage and screen and have a conversation, but at home he was very, very shy. The more we would demand he talk to us, the more uneasy he became."

Ulee is a beekeeper in the Florida panhandle: Tupelo honey territory. After the death of his wife, and the subsequent arrest of his son for robbery, he shuts himself off from the world, until a family crisis brings him out of his shell. Because Ulee is a man of few gestures, and even fewer words, Fonda had to learn to convey the character's emotions as economically as possible. "In this case, less is more," he said. "You've got to bring off the motion with a minimum amount of work -- My dad was known for that," he said. "You'd never see the wheels turn."

Peter Fonda, the Hollywood icon of counter-culture is, despite being "black-balled" for his role in Easy Rider and his promotion of the anarchist image, was welcomed back in to the Hollywood fold once again for his role as "Ulee" in Ulee's Gold.

Peter Fonda has had a long career in film, but it isn't what you would describe as an A-List of films, yet he is a survivor and his nomination for Best Actor in 1997 was well deserved.

Other recommended Peter Fonda films...


1999 Debbie Twyman. All rights reserved. TERMS OF USE