If Peter Fonda hadn’t become an actor, he probably would have been a professional cage shaker.
The 65-year-old, famous for his iconic father, fiery sister and character in the legendary biker film "Easy Rider," has been in Paradise Valley for the past two weeks shooting a new film. He spoke with the Tribune Thursday at Montelucia, a luxury resort on the north side of Camelback Mountain.
"I’m trying to keep myself under control in this hotbed of Republicans," said Fonda, who although not as infamous for his political beliefs as sister and actress Jane Fonda, has earned a reputation as a Democrat fierce in his opposition to the Vietnam War, the current Iraq war and the presidency of George W. Bush.
"I’ve made a lifetime out of being politically incorrect," Fonda said. He was the spitting image of his father, Henry, only with longer hair, movie star sunglasses and a white baseball cap that said "Easy Rider" on the back.
Fonda said he did not know at the time the 1969 biker film would become a cult classic, but he did know it would "shake cages."
"And I like to do anything that shakes the cage," he said.
A lover of motorcycles and sports cars, Fonda said he drove to Arizona in his yellow Ferrari 360 Modena, which he will drive back to California in a few days to act in the last few scenes of his new film, "Japan."
Fonda will play Alfred Peacock, the annoying neighbor of an Irish hit man who is stuck at a Phoenix hotel waiting for his target to show up. French film director Fabien Pruvot said it’s a tense crime drama with small touches of humor. The reason he chose to film it here is because of the heat, Pruvot said, so he could capture the trapped feeling an Irishman would experience in Arizona’s sweltering desert.
Fonda himself isn’t bothered by the heat, but he said it was intense in 1979 while he was shooting "Wanda Nevada" in the Grand Canyon.
"It was 127 degrees," he said. "We called Marble Canyon, ‘Lost Your Marbles
Of the films he has starred in with family members, he said he most enjoyed shooting "Wanda Nevada" with his father, a man who had difficulty expressing his emotions.
"Dad said, ‘In my 41 years of making motion pictures, I have never seen a crew so devoted to a director, and you’re a very good director, son, and I love you very much," said Fonda, his voice cracking. "I taught him how to say that to me."
Besides making films, Fonda said he enjoys "sex, sailing and sleep, in that order."
"And when I can have sex, sail and sleep at the same time, I’m in fabulous form."