The Truth About Jane Fonda's Relationship With Donald Sutherland

Though Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland are known today for their activism and acting prowess, once upon a time, they made headlines for a very different reason — a steamy love affair. Though the two Hollywood stars had crossed paths in the early 1960s, most notably at a Black Panther fundraiser, it wasn't until the duo starred together in the 1971 crime thriller "Klute" that they embarked on their romance, per InStyle.

Even the start of their relationship sounds like something out of a film noir movie scene. "We'd already been cast but had not started shooting. And one day, she made it very clear, via a somewhat provocative suggestion, that I should come home with her. And I just said, [pause] 'Ok,'" recalled Sutherland in an interview with Rolling Stone.

However, there is some drama regarding the start of the affair. According to CNN, Sutherland did not divorce his then-wife, "Lolita" actress Shirley Douglas, until 1971. If Sutherland and Fonda's relationship started before filming even started, there was likely some overlap. Moreover, some fans have even speculated that Sutherland's infidelity was the impetus for the divorce.

Sutherland hasn't held back on releasing steamy details

Though Jane Fonda described Donald Sutherland as "something of the old-world gentleman" in her memoir "My Life So Far," Sutherland has not shied away from doing a kiss-and-tell about their fling. For starters, he has been very open about certain parts of Fonda's anatomy that he found particularly attractive. "She had, at the time, the most beautiful breasts in the world," Sutherland declared in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. The reporter also noted that the "Hunger Games" actor also confessed a "juicy, not-fit-for-print story about his costar."

It wasn't the only time that Sutherland has publicly discussed Fonda's bosom. In another interview, this time with GQ, he recounted a night of passion spent at New York's Chelsea Hotel. "I was lying on my back on the bed when Jane came out of the bathroom. She, too, was naked, and when the moonlight caught her perfect breasts I stopped breathing. Everything stopped. And then it started again. Now, when I see it in my memory, I stopped breathing again," he recalled.

While physical passion was clearly a large part of Fonda and Sutherland's connection, they also bonded over the shared love of activism. In fact, the duo even went on their own anti-Vietnam War tour, filming a documentary about their travels the whole while (per Rogers Movie Nation).

Their break up eviscerated Sutherland

But while Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland's progressive beliefs helped give their lives meaning, it also led to personal disappointments. "We believed. We really believed that change was going to happen. We really believed it. But it was hard. Kennedy was killed, and when Bobby [Kennedy] was killed and Martin Luther King was killed," Sutherland noted in an interview with The Sunday Times.

However, what eventually truly ended their romance was taking it to the next level: moving in together. Sadly, Sutherland confessed that the break down of their fling had a serious mental toll on him. "[The] relationship exploded and fell apart in Tokyo. And it broke my heart. I was eviscerated. I was so sad. It was a wonderful relationship right up to the point we lived together," Sutherland told The Guardian

His heartbreak didn't appear to last long, though. In 1972, he got married to "Goodbye, Children" actress Francine Racette (per IMDb). The two have remained together and will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year. They also have three children together. Fonda, for her part, also moved on fairly quickly. After her split with Sutherland, she started dating anti-war activist Tom Hayden. According to Us Weekly, the couple married in 1973 and spent 17 years together before divorcing in 1990.