Interview: Jane Seymour Goes Beyond Dr. Quinn to ‘Perfectly Prudence’

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CHICAGO – Jane Seymour is a memorable beauty, and has found success in virtually all areas of the media. After breaking through with films such as “Live and Let Die” and “Somewhere in Time,” she was “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” for six seasons on TV. She returns with “Perfectly Prudence” on the Hallmark channel.

The television movie marks the second time Seymour has played Prudence McCoy, a British version of Martha Stewart. In this go around, new producers come in to remake Prudence’s show. One of the producers is played by Joe Lando, notable because he was Seymour’s Dr Quinn co-star throughout the series. Their on-screen chemistry is revived, and the complications of re-tooling Prudence gives this adventure a comic touch.

Jane Seymour in Chicago, Promoting her Book, ‘Among Angels,’ December, 2010
Jane Seymour in Chicago, Promoting her Book, ‘Among Angels,’ December, 2010
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com.

Jane Seymour was born Joyce Frankenberg in Hayes, Middlesex, England. She has had a long acting career, beginning in the late 1960s with “Oh, What a Lovely War.” Her international breakthrough came a few years later with “Live and Let Die,” in which she played a Bond Girl named Solitaire.

She mixed television and film throughout the subsequent years, doing turns in “Somewhere in Time” (1980) and “War and Remembrance” (1988), before beginning Dr. Quinn in 1993. She recently did a impressive comic part in “Wedding Crashers” (2005), as a randy Treasury Secretary’s wife. She is also an author of note, having recently published “Among Angels,” her ninth book.

HollywoodChicago.com talked to Jane Seymour via phone from her home in Malibu, California. She talked Prudence, her career and the lifelong connection she enjoyed with Christopher Reeve.

HollywoodChicago.com: Perfectly Prudence reunites you with your Dr. Quinn co-star Joe Lando. Was that intentional or did you just happen to think he would be good for the role?

Jane Seymour: The writers and producer [Rob Gilmer] met Joe socially at my home. Rob really liked him a lot, and noted that many people had said the chemistry between us on Dr. Quinn was really good. We knew the fans of the show were salivating to get us back together. The script was written by Rob with the idea of Katie [Flynn, Seymour’s real-life daughter] playing my daughter and Joe playing the ex-boyfriend. So it was written for him.

HollywoodChicago.com: In Prudence you are playing an English version of a Martha Stewart character for the second time. Are you personally like Martha Stewart in your real life, and how do you most relate to the character?

Seymour: No, I don’t think I’m anything like Martha Stewart. [laughs] I do relate because I do design work, like home furnishings, tableware, clothing and jewelry. I write books about designing and discovering your own taste, and how to manifest it in your home. But Martha spends a lot of time in the kitchen and I spend a lot of time covered in oil paint and sculpting material. [laughs]

HollywoodChicago.com: You are also co-starring with your husband, James Keach and daughter Katie Flynn. How do family members that work in an acting and production environment stay true to their relationships while at the same time feeding each other professionally?

Seymour: Well, first of all when I met my husband we were working together professionally, that’s how we met. So we’ve worked together many times both with him directing, or co-producing together. He’s also acted in a number of things with me, so we’re used to it.

As far as Katie is concerned, this will be the fourth time she has acted with me. When she was a child she played Marie Antoinette’s daughter during the French revolution and she had a small role in Dr. Quinn. She also writes and performs in a web series called “Quitters,” where I played a small role as her mother. Prudence is the first substantial co-starring that we’ve done. She was fantastic, and is a terrific actress. I was very proud of her.

HollywoodChicago.com: You play both a mother and a professional celebrity as Prudence. Have those two roles ever come in conflict in your real life, and how does being a mother help you to be a better actor?

Seymour: I think being anything helps you to be a better actor. When you are an actor, you’re always pulling something from your own life experience, and/or putting yourself in another person’s shoes. It’s very hard to play a mother if you’ve never had a child.

I can always tell someone who has had a baby and somebody who hasn’t when they are holding a baby in a movie. A real mother shoves them under their arms or over their shoulder. Somebody who has never actually had a baby will spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to hold them. [laughs]

Jane Seymour as Prudence McCoy in ‘Pefectly Prudence’
Jane Seymour as Prudence McCoy in ‘Pefectly Prudence’
Photo credit: © Hallmark Channel

HollywoodChicago.com: What type of roles are you looking for as an actor at this point in your career and has there been something that you’d love to do that TV or filmmakers have never considered you for in the past?

Seymour: I’ve been really doing a lot of different material recently, more comedy lately, including a film called “Love, Wedding, Marriage,” which hopefully will be released in 2011. I also did an independent film called “Lake Effects,” and that was a beautiful script. When I worked with those fabulous people on fabulous material it adds up to a fabulous life experience. I only hope the film comes out as well as the experience I had doing it.

As an actress, right now, I’m at the best I’ll ever be. It’s just a question of finding the right roles to play.

HollywoodChicago.com: You changed your name at the age of 17. What was the inspiration of taking on a name of one of the wives of Henry the 8th?

Seymour: My agent told me I had to change my name, because it was too long, too foreign and too difficult to spell. In those days, everybody changed their name, you had your normal name and your stage name. I kept the initial J, and someone in the office came up with Seymour, which fit the bill because it was English, easy to spell and easy to remember. We didn’t realize initially why it was so easy to remember, because if you studied Henry the 8th that was the forgotten wife. If I had called myself Anne Boleyn or Catherine of Aragon it wouldn’t have worked. [laughs]

HollywoodChicago.com: You have been known throughout your life for your extraordinary beauty. Obviously throughout your career it has opened doors, but did you ever have periods in your life where you felt that individuals or situations exploited that beauty?

Seymour: I don’t think I’ve ever been exploited, personally, I’ve always had the choice to take a role or not. I definitely know there were roles I didn’t get because they liked me a lot, I did a great audition, but I wasn’t the ‘girl next door.’ Which is why I live in America. They were looking for the British girl next door and in America they didn’t mind that I don’t look like that. When I moved here, I was told if I lose my English accent I’d never stop working. He was right.

HollywoodChicago.com: What’s the hardest part of doing an American accent?

Seymour: Trying to get my British accent back to do Prudence. [laughs] I play so many Americans that when they say, ‘rolling, camera, action,’ my automatic response is to be American. Every once in awhile I get to be British, and Prudence is one of those occasions.

HollywoodChicago.com: Since you are also part of James Bond lore in Live and Let Die, what is your feeling about your character Solitaire in comparison to all the other so-called Bond Girls over the years?

Seymour: I’m not really an aficionado on Bond, but I clearly know that I was the only virgin. I read where somebody said I was psychic because I knew tarot cards, but actually I learned how to use them for the movie. So I’m not a psychic. [laughs]

HollywoodChicago.com: Do you feel a bit of vindication, both for you and your friend Christopher Reeve, on the cult following that has built around your film ‘Somewhere in Time’? And what memory, either on the film or in life, is your best regarding Christopher Reeve?

Seymour: Somewhere in Time was the most magical summer I can ever remember. Chris and I had a relationship from there, in a beautiful way, that lasted until the day he died. He was my closest friend. I was so proud of what he did after the accident and so proud of him coming through it and letting go of his own issues, and on a daily basis see what he could do for other people who had been through what he was going through. I think of Chris often, because the difference he made in the world was extraordinary. He was a fun loving and wonderful person, a godfather to one of my children.

As far as the success of the film, the biggest successes I’ve had are the things that have been mauled by the critics the most. If it gets a vindictive or bad review, it has a chance to become an audience favorite. [laughs]

HollywoodChicago.com: You did many interesting and unusual themes on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. What is your favorite legacy from that show, one that you are most proud of?

Seymour: The whole thing, to be honest. When I was doing it, I didn’t know how great it was, because I didn’t have time to watch it. In retrospect, if I stumble upon an episode, I realize that it’s timeless, pertinent to what’s happening today and one of the few American imports that every country has agreed upon. It’s in 98 countries, beloved in China, Russia and the Middle East more so than even in America. The idea that it is about Americana and the beginnings of this country in a modern sense, and speaking to so many cultures, gives me joy.

HollywoodChicago.com: Finally, you are a character actor that is often associated with love and romance. What is the most romantic thing that has happened to your in your life, and how does it define the way you live?

Seymour: When I was at the lowest ebb in my life, after a terrible divorce, losing my money and my home, in the worst debt known to man, I made a movie in which I co-produced with a great director named James Keach. We met in our first working meeting together as producers, and I was a little late. When I sat down, he looked into my eyes and went straight into my soul. He told me, ‘what could anyone had ever done to give you that much pain.’ I thought I was being perky and promotional.

He was the man who saw the real me. There was an instant connection and there has been ever since. It is a very special relationship that grows and grows and grows. It gets turbulent sometimes, but it constantly amazes me that I was fortunate enough to have him come into my life.

“Perfectly Prudence” premieres on Saturday, January 8th, at 9pm EST/8pm CST on the Hallmark Channel. See local listings for channel location. Featuring Jane Seymour, Joe Lando, Valerie Azlynn, Katherine Flynn, Adam Kaufman and James Keach. Written by Rob Gilmer, directed by Paul Schneider. “Among Angels” by Jane Seymour is available wherever books are sold.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2011 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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