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Peter Fonda in film about ‘what matters in life’

Peter Fondplays rancher who mentors future billionaire “The Ultimate Life” now theaters.

Peter Fonda plays a rancher who mentors a future billionaire in “The Ultimate Life,” now in theaters.

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Updated: October 10, 2013 6:34AM



When the offspring of Henry Fonda worked with the kid of Michael Landon, there was only one line of introduction that would do.

Peter Fonda, 73, laughs during a phone interview from his Hawaii boat and recalls, “I took one look at Michael and said, ‘Here we are — a couple of sons of guns.”

Fonda stars in “The Ultimate Life,” directed by Michael Landon Jr. The film is about a billionaire who decides to figure out what has real meaning in life after he finds his grandfather’s journal.

“A lot of scripts that come my way these days say ‘grandfather’ or ‘older uncle’ on them,” muses Fonda, looking outside as the sun sets on the water from his boat. “The truth is I’m just happy to be on a set telling a good story.”

Q. What was the appeal of “The Ultimate Life?”

A. It’s really about what matters in life. A lot of people look at people who have more and say, “I want to have what you have.” The theme here is you don’t want to be me. You never want to be someone else. You need to be you. We tell that one in a way that will teach and not preach.

Q. Everyone knows you’re the son of Henry and brother of Jane. But when did you figure out that you wanted to act?

A. As a kid, I had an idea of what my dad did, but not a big idea. Meanwhile, I was out in the yard playing cops and robbers. I always wanted to be the one who took the bullet or the arrow when I was a kid because I could easily fall out of trees. I was skinny, but I knew how to pretend and take a fall. It dawned on me. Far out! This is what my dad does for a job!

Q. There are rumors your “Easy Rider” pal Jack Nicholson is retiring. Any thoughts on that matter?

A. Jack is retiring? Yeah? Far out! I never hear the news in Hawaii. All I can say is he’s a good actor and thanks for telling me the news. Personally, I don’t want to retire. I feel like I’m about 8 years old on most days.

Q. Why 8?

A. I’m 8 on the inside. I’ll explain it in a logical way. If you think about it logically, an 8-year-old doesn’t think about being 9. But a 9-year-old thinks about being 10. When you’re 10 you want to be 13. Most 8-year-olds are fine with being 8 and I’m fine with this age. It’s just about now, which is perfect. The only bad part is losing friends, but that’s inevitable.

Q. You’re working with Chicago director John McNaughton on the scary movie “The Harvest.” Are you giving it the Peter Fonda touch?

A. Yes, we were on the set filming in this attic. I’m looking at the belongings of my dead son. John, who is the most amazing director, kept the camera running long after my granddaughter huffs away. My thing is if the camera is still running, I continue acting. So I looked in another box and said, “Far out.” I didn’t mean it as a laugh line, but it cracked everyone up.

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