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Jane Fonda Says Dolly Parton Gave Her ‘Goosebumps’ When They Worked Together On ‘9 to 5’

Photo Credit: IPC Films / 20th Century Fox / MoviePics1001 / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: IPC Films / 20th Century Fox / MoviePics1001 / MovieStillsDB

The 1980 comedy classic, 9 to 5, could be getting a long-awaited reboot. If so, there is a very good chance that the same cast could return to their roles as Judy, Violet, and Doralee. Rumors of a potential sequel for the film have been circling for years, and none of the original ladies have lost hope that it’ll happen. As they get older, though, they know it’s coming down to the wire.

The original ‘9 to 5’ was a smash

Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda linking arms and smiling.
The original cast of 9 to 5, released in 1980. (Photo Credit: IPC Films / 20th Century Fox / CaptainOT / MovieStillsDB)

Released in 1980 and directed by Colin Higgins, the original 9 to 5 featured the star-studded cast of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton. The workplace comedy followed the fantasies of these three ladies as they sought revenge on their sexist and self-centered boss, Mr. Hart.

When it hit theaters, 9 to 5 was an immediate hit. It garnered a whopping $103.3 million at the box office and sparked one of the greatest comedic partnerships in Hollywood history. Fonda and Tomlin would return side-by-side on several projects, including the sitcom Grace and Frankie and the film Moving On (2022).

Talk of a 9 to 5 reboot picked up momentum recently following the 2022 finale of Grace and Frankie that featured a cameo from Parton, as well as the release of Fonda and Tomlin’s newest sports comedy, 80 For Brady (2023), which also featured Parton’s music.

A sequel was in the works in 2018

Dolly Parton smiling while holding a phone to her ear.
Dolly Parton previously confirmed a reboot, though the project was eventually dropped. (Photo Credit: IPC Films / 20th Century Fox / MoviePics1001 / MovieStillsDB)

In 2018, it seemed that fans of the original film no longer had to wait for a sequel, as Parton confirmed that there was one officially in the works. Attached to the film was original co-writer Patricia Resnick, along with Rashida Jones (The OfficeParks and Recreation).

“All these years we’ve talked about doing a sequel to ‘9 to 5,’ but it never made any real sense,” Parton said at the time. “Until just recently — all the equal work for equal pay and all the harassment in the workplace [controversy around the #MeToo movement] — we decided that we are going to try to do another one.”

She explained, “They presented with me an idea the other day and I said yes.” However, this film would feature a twist. Parton said the sequel would “bring some new girls in… and they’re gonna find us, the old characters. We’ve all come up with a business of our own. So, they come to find us just to get some input.”

Unfortunately, following some issues with the script, the project was canceled altogether in 2019.

Tomlin has been a strong advocate for a followup

Lily Tomlin sitting at a desk covered in papers, speaking on the phone
While they would all like to see a reboot, Lily Tomlin has been particularly interested in getting it off the ground. (Photo Credit: IPC Films / 20th Century Fox / MoviePics1001 / MovieStillsDB)

Despite that setback, fans have not lost hope, and neither has Tomlin, who has spearheaded the push for its creation. “I have a big hope!” she said. “More than Jane. Jane’s gone on to climate change, and she’s very involved in it and rightly so,” referring to Fonda’s work as an activist.

Tomlin explained that in addition to being a comedy, the reboot would also need to have some bigger meaning behind it. “I would like any material that’s just really rich and true and not dishonest and somehow its intention is communicating something better to humanity,” she explained. “I’m interested in any human issue, any human condition, anything about humanity that’s positive or says something meaningful about how we’re living or what we’re doing to each other, any number of things like that. But we like to get the comedy in there.”

Fonda still has high hopes as well, saying, “We always are holding that secret little sequel. We’re trying to make it happen before one of us checks out, so we hope we pull it off.” However, she also indicated that the thing that is preventing it from happening is a pretty major factor. “We haven’t been able to get a script that we were satisfied with,” she said. “If you don’t have the script, you can’t start.”

If a reboot happens, Parton will definitely be part of it

Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton posing for a photo.
If a reboot occurs soon, fans can expect to see all members of the original trio. (Photo Credit: IPC Films / 20th Century Fox / CaptainOT / MovieStillsDB)

Considering that Fonda and Tomlin have worked together so frequently, many have wondered if a reboot would include Parton. However, both Fonda and Tomlin agree that there would be no sequel without Parton. “We’re such a good trio, so you always want to exploit that thing that’s entertained and that you’ve done in the past,” Tomlin said. “She’s wonderful anyway. People respond to Dolly so beautifully, so you want that to happen again. In a way, it’s like an old relationship, like, ‘Oh, we can’t let that go! We gotta keep that in our bubble.'”

Fonda said, “Dolly is so much fun to be with. She has such a great sense of humor and such a deep soul. She’s very smart and very, very generous and kind and she loves her fans so much. I don’t know I’ve, I’ve really- I love her and admire her and respect her very much.” Plus, a new film could mean a new theme song.

For Tomlin, that job is strictly reserved for Parton. “I mean, who’s gonna write the theme song?” she said. “I remember she came onto the set of the original, and played the theme song on her fingernails. And Jane and I looked at each other and it was just like — it was such a great song. It was just so right for the movie. And I said, ‘Well, the song will be a hit if the movie isn’t a huge hit.'”

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Fonda also recalled hearing Parton’s theme song for the original film for the first time. “I remember the morning that she came in and she called me and Lily over and she has these century-long nails… and she said ‘Well I’ve written a song for the movie, you want to hear it?’ And then using her nails as percussion she sang ‘9 to 5, working 9 to 5,’ And Lily and I looked at each other, we both had goosebumps and we both knew this is going to be a legend. This is going to be a hit.”

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Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!