ACTRESS Jane Fonda said she had been inspired to return to civil disobedience by climate change protester Greta Thunberg, nearly half a century after she was last arrested at a protest.

Fonda, known for her opposition to the Vietnam War, was one of 17 climate protesters arrested on Friday at the US Capitol in Washington DC on charges of unlawful demonstration by what she called “extremely nice and professional” police.

Fellow actor Sam Waterston was also in the group, which included many older demonstrators.

Now 81, Fonda said she plans to get arrested every Friday to advocate for an urgent reduction in the use of fossil fuels. She hopes to encourage other older people to protest as well.

Fonda said that getting arrested in 2019 poses some entirely new challenges.

These days, “they use white plastic things on your wrists instead of metal handcuffs, and that hurts more”, she said.

READ MORE: Hong Kong: Winnie-the-Pooh masks worn in mockery of Xi Jinping

And the star of Barbarella, Klute, 9 To 5 and Coming Home added: “The only problem for me is I’m old.”

After her first arrest last week, she had trouble getting into the police vehicle because she was handcuffed behind her back and “had nothing to hang on to”.

On Friday, Fonda emerged from a cluster of officers and stepped smartly into the police wagon, her hands cuffed in front of her.

“What would you tell President Trump?” someone in the crowd yelled to her earlier, as she and other protesters stood on their platform in front of the Capitol.

“I wouldn’t waste my breath,” she shouted back, drawing laughter.

The rally drew at least a couple of hundred people, young and old.

While Fonda has taken part in many climate demonstrations, she said Thunberg’s mobilisation of international student strikes and other activism, along with the climate writing of author Naomi Klein, prompted her to return to courting arrests for a cause.

Fonda cannot remember precisely which cause led to her last arrest in the 1970s.

She said her target audience now is people like her who try to cut their plastic use and drive fuel-efficient cars, for instance, but otherwise “don’t know what to do and they feel helpless”.

Fonda added: “We’re trying to encourage people to become more active, across the age spectrum.”