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Inside Grace and Frankie stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin's real-life friendship

The Netflix stars have been firm friends for a number of years

grace and frankie real life
Francesca Shillcock
Francesca ShillcockSenior TV & Film Writer
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Grace and Frankie is one of those shows that never gets old and fans have been loving the final episodes of season seven that were released on Netflix in May. 

MORE: Grace and Frankie fans in tears over show's ending

Part of the comedy's charm is the titular characters' clear chemistry on-screen, but the stars have been firm friends for a number of years. To celebrate their career and bond, we've taken a look back at the friendship over the years…

WATCH: Are you a fan of Grace and Frankie?

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin's early friendship

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin become acquainted after Jane saw Lily performing in a Broadway play and Jane immediately knew she wanted to work with her. According to reports, Lily was already a big fan of Jane's due to her staunch activism and acting career long before they met.

MORE: See what the cast of Grace and Frankie looked like at the start of their careers

MORE: Grace and Frankie: why the show is ending after season seven

Jane then cast Lily in her film, 9 to 5. "I totally changed the idea for 9 to 5 because of her. I said, 'I don't want to make a movie about secretaries if she's not in it,'" Jane told the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

The film, which also starred Dolly Parton, opened in 1980 and was a huge success, and cemented the decades-long friendship between Jane and Lily. "We've been friends ever since. We're friends because I just love her. I know Jane has my back whenever she can," said Lily to the Washington Post.

jane fonda lily tomlin 9 to 5© Photo: Getty Images

Jane and Lily at the premiere of 9 to 5

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin's later friendship

Over the next four decades, the two would continue not just to work together but to support each other's work. The pair would often be seen attending red carpet events together, presidential galas and awards shows.

MORE: 5 shows to watch if you love Grace and Frankie

In 2014, Jane, along with other stars such as Kate McKinnon and Jane Lynch, appeared on stage at the Kennedy Centre Honors to share fond memories and commemorate the work of their friend, Lily. During an appearance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, Jane said of Lily: "She always says something really funny. I cannot believe the funny-bone that she has, and I have loved her since the moment I saw her."

jane and lily new© Photo: Getty Images

Jane and Lily have a close bond

The two have attended activist protests together to raise awareness for social causes they care about including the Women's March and events that campaign for equal pay. The pair are considered inspirational and influential figures of Hollywood and even did a Ted Talk together celebrating female friendships.  

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin: Grace and Frankie

In 2015, the two debuted the first series of Grace and Frankie taking on the roles of Grace Hanson and Frankie Bergstein, two unlikely friends who come together after their husbands announce that they are in love with each other and plan to marry. The show has been a huge hit over the past six seasons and happens to be the longest-running Netflix original series. 

Fans were even more thrilled this month when four new episodes landed, with the stars themselves announcing that more were on the way. The actresses made the exciting announcement on social media via the official Twitter account for Netflix informing viewers that they wanted to give audiences something "special" while they finish filming the season.

grace frankie 1© Photo: Netflix

The first four episodes of season seven are out now

Jane said: "As you know, we've been filming the final season of Grace and Frankie," as Lily interjected: "That's the second thing. We've got to tell them the first thing," adding: "The first four episodes of season seven are out now."

"But don't worry there's plenty more to come. We just wanted to give you something special until we finish the rest of the season," finished Jane, as she then humorously rolled her eyes at her co-stars's witty comments.

grace and frankie© Photo: Rex

Jane and Lily in Grace and Frankie

The two leading ladies have commented on their friendship being so key to the success of Grace and Frankie. Shortly after the series premiered in 2015, Lily told "People say we have a lot of chemistry. That's because you can sense that Jane and I have been friends for so long. We have a soft spot for each other." 

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