conference Jane Fonda held to celebrate the ''wrap'' of the film. Although she had gained several pounds for the role and had not yet taken them off, she was euphoric about herself, the film, and the character she plays in it. Her sense of well-being shone thrugh in every word she spoke.
Why was she attracted to ''The Dollmaker''?
''Over the years, I often heard my father say when he won his many awards that he'd been fortunate from time to time to be able to play a character who was so remarkable that he was improved as a human being - that perhaps it rubbed off on him.
''Well, Gertie Nevels, the character I play, is an incredible woman - brave, strong, vulnerable, spiritual, very ordinary, but at the same time extraordinary without knowing it. There's something universal, and at the same time special, about her. I felt that by telling her story, we could touch people's hearts very deeply. It's a hymn to the capacity of the human spirit to remain intact and survive in the face of difficulties. I hope some of Gert rubs off on me.''
What did Fonda learn about herself from living in the Kentucky hills while the mountain sequences were shot?
She grinned broadly. ''Well, one very concrete thing I learned was that I can milk a cow and churn butter and chop and split wood and bake corn bread. It's made me feel strong and independent in a way that I didn't feel before.
''And I'm not afraid of being ugly. I mean, I'm not the way you're supposed to look if you're a movie star and it doesn't matter. Now that may seem silly, but when you're an actress, it's not easy to make up your mind that that's not what it's about.
''I also felt what it means to think about your kids first. And in some way, I feel that I came home a better mother. After playing Gertie, trying to save her children, trying to keep some kind of values alive, trying to preserve the family and keep body and soul together in a way that was so pure and so brave and so strong, it made me want not to kvetsch (complain) so much.''
After living so close to poverty in the making of the picture, what was it like to come back to real luxury?
''It made me appreciate what I have. But the people in the mountains only lack some material things. When I think about them, I think about how can I unclutter my own life style more? How do I simplify things?''
Would Tom - the part her father played in ''The Grapes of Wrath'' - have gotten along with Gert of ''The Dollmaker''? Jane Fonda took a deep breath and then nodded her head vigorously.
''They would have gotten along great, because they have a lot in common.
''You know, people have said that this film is my 'Grapes of Wrath.' I can only hope so.''