The women of Book Club are back, and this time they’re engaging in heartfelt discussions, drinking wine, and getting into hilarious shenanigans against the backdrop of Rome, Venice, and the Italian countryside. For legendary stars Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, and Candice Bergen, Focus Features Book Club: The Next Chapter is part of a new spate of comedies that celebrate women over 60 who are viable, have sexual agency, and place their friendships with other women front and center.
“It’s so improbable that [the Book Club films] happened in the first place. That’s how I felt. It wasn’t just for women, it was for women our ages. And it wasn’t about being mean. The jokes weren’t about diminishing ourselves or each other,” Steenburgen says. “People saw the love that we have for each other and found it refreshing and went to the movie and saw it, and it did well.”
“Then Candice goes, ‘If we do another one, it should be in Italy.’ And now we've done that,” she adds.
Watch the Advocate Channel's interview with Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, and Candice Bergen
Book Club: The Next Chapter finds the four friends buoying one another over Zoom throughout the harshest lockdowns of the pandemic. When Fonda’s Vivian becomes engaged to her boyfriend Arthur (Don Johnson) and the world has opened again, they fulfill a dream of vacationing in Italy together under the auspices of a bachelorette vacation. It isn’t long before Vivian, Sharon (Bergen), Carol (Steenburgen), and Diane Keaton’s Diane are immersed deep in their Italian adventure. While there are men in each of their lives, save for Sharon, who’s a free agent on their Italian adventure, their friendship is the glue of the movie from losing their luggage to landing in a jail in Tuscany.
“I think women's friendships are very important for women and for the world because women are holding up half the sky,” says Fonda, who starred in 80 For Brady earlier this year. “And women’s friendships are what keep us healthy and strong and safe and happy. And because women’s friendships are different than men’s — we ask each other for help. We admit when we are weak or afraid or need something. We express our needs. And consequently, our women friends really can keep us alive and happy, or they can help us when it's time to leave.”
For Bergen, playing Sharon, a single former judge who occasionally finds herself verbally sparring with various men she encounters, is an opportunity to model a woman who is enjoying her sex appeal later in life while also being very funny. It’s only recently that Hollywood has written stories about women after 60 having it all, and Sharon is doing just that.
“I just think women have to step up and ignore age and just go for what they want, what they want to do, and who they want to be,” Bergen says.
Book Club: The Next Chapter is in theaters May 12. Watch the full interview with the Advocate Channel above.