Jane Fonda's turn as Nancy Reagan in the new film "The Butler" is angering veterans across the country, and "Hanoi Jane" isn’t doing much to help the situation.
An infamously vocal liberal, Fonda sparked controversy in 1972 when she visited enemy territory in North Vietnam and was photographed sitting on top of an anti-aircraft battery. That picture and her opposition to the war
— she was once quoted calling American soldiers murderers — earned her the nickname "Hanoi Jane."
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Now, veterans are outraged that "Hanoi Jane" is playing Nancy Reagan, beloved wife of staunch military supporter and conservative President Ronald Reagan, in Lee Daniels' "The Butler." Many veterans' groups are picketing the film outside at their local movie theaters.
"I was outraged that [the makers of the film] would do stunt casting and have this traitor to our nation be cast portraying someone so honorable," Larry Reyes, a 20-year Navy veteran who lives in South Carolina, told GwdToday.com.
"'Hanoi Jane' should not make one penny in our nation, one she has betrayed."
"After spending two and a half years in the country over there and witnessing her treasonous actions, I think [her part in the movie] is a gross insult to a very fine, conservative, elegant woman," Vietnam veteran H.L. Bryant of Kansas told KSWO.com.
Fonda, 75, said she expected her casting to ruffle a few feathers.
"I know people say, 'Oh my gosh, Jane Fonda is playing Nancy Reagan,'"
she told reporters while promoting the film last month. "But I don't think that whatever difference there might be in our politics really matters. As an actor, I approach her as a human being. I happen to know that she's not unhappy that I'm playing her."
But the Academy Award winner isn’t exactly doing all she can to alleviate the controversy.
According to a Fox News report from April, Fonda said veterans should "get a life"
after hearing about the planned boycott of the movie. She reportedly said she knew her role would "tweak the right. Who cares?"
She also wore a "Hanoi Jane" T-shirt during a press junket last month to promote the film, according to the New York Post.
"The Butler" tells the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a White House butler who served eight presidents. It opened in theaters over the weekend.
On Friday, leading Reagan historian Craig Shirley took issue with the depiction of the former First Lady in the movie.
"She (Fonda) was definitely cast to push buttons, there was no doubt about it," Shirley told Newsmax.
"They chose her specifically to get people talking about it ‹ happily, or, in the case of a lot of conservatives, unhappily."
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Here is a clip of Fonda playing Reagan in "The Butler":
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