High Drama: Jane Seymour has an enduring career, but her private life has been challenging. after announcing her separation from her fourth husband, she talks about work and family.
If there was an award for performing under pressure it should surely go to Jane Seymour – only months after going through the anguish of her marriage ending, the actress is filming a new movie and looking as glamorous as ever.
Her glossy mane of chestnut hair, petite build and dazzling smile lend her a youthful demeanour which belies her 62 years, and sitting in her trailer on location in Bath, Somerset, she appears relaxed as she chats about coping with hard times.
“Everyone has difficult times and I’m kind of living through that,” she says quietly, patently still finding it painful to refer to the announcement in April that she and her fourth husband, actor and director, James Keach had separated after 20 years of marriage, following reported allegations of his infidelity.
The couple have 17-year-old twin boys, Johnny and Kristopher.
“My mother was a great inspiration to me and she always told me when times are tough there’s no point closing yourself off. Instead you have to accept what’s happened, live in the moment, and reach out to help someone else. If you don’t think of yourself but think of others you will heal and love and a purpose will come into your life again.”
Brave words from the woman who has described the break up as “devastating” – dashing what had been hard-won domestic contentment. For the British-born star, possibly best known for her role in 1990s TV drama, Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman, has not been lucky in love. Her marriage in 1971 to first husband, Michael Attenborough, son of director Richard Attenborough, ended after two years; a second in 1977 to artist, Geoffrey Planer broke up after a year, and her third marriage in 1981 to businessman, David Flynn, by whom she has two children, actress, Katie, 31, and photographer, Sean, 26 ended after 10 years, and he later reportedly admitted having affairs.
Yet until recently, Seymour’s life appeared enviable – living in a luxury beach-side mansion in Malibu, California with celebrity neighbours including Barbra Streisand and Beyonce – and juggling her role as a wife, mother and grandmother-of-three with a flourishing artist and designer career, on top of her acting.
Now it’s her children, she says, who are providing her with their support in this emotionally demanding time.
“My family helps me keep strong. I have a great family, I’m very proud of all my children and I spend a lot of time with them. There’s nothing more thrilling than your children having children and my grandchildren, two little boys of one and 11 months and the latest a little girl, four months, give me nothing but joy. I enjoy my work and I love being creative. Painting particularly is an emotional release for me,” she says.
“Katie recently gave me an iPod and she’s put a whole bunch of meditation and inspirational music into it. So I plug myself into that in times of stress. Also, I’ve always found walking on the beach, long walks by the ocean, calming. I try to live in the moment and not to hang on to the negative, and I’m very grateful for the good and beautiful things in life.”
Despite the upheavals at home, Seymour is ever the professional – her ingrained work ethic began at the age of 15 when she made and sold clothes – and there’s been little let up in her busy schedule. She’s currently in the UK on a ‘working holiday’ filming an adaptation of a Rosamunde Pilcher novel, Unknown Heart, which also stars Greg Wise, and spending time with her two sisters.
Poignantly, the location is close to the former home, a 14th century manor house just outside of Bath, where she once spent summers with Keach and the family. “I love coming back to the UK, I visit at least three times a year, and still feel very English even though I’ve spent years in America,” she says.
In America, where she’s won a host of awards, including an Emmy and Golden Globes, Seymour is constantly in demand for television and films and has appeared in a host of successful TV series including Smallville and Law & Order: SVU. Since her appearance in 2005 in Wedding Crashers she’s carved out a niche for herself in comedy roles.
“When I look back on my career the highlights, in terms of my roles in England, must be appearing as Bond girl Solitaire in Live and Let Die with Roger Moore in 1973 ,and the television series, The Onedin Line. I was only 19 and 20 when I got those parts,” says Seymour who only became an actress because injury cut short a promising ballet career.
Giving up dancing was devastating at the time, I’d appeared at Covent Garden, but I’ve always had challenges and over the years I’ve learnt that they’re an opportunity to change. I went to America when I was 26 and enjoyed success very quickly after arriving. While the children were younger I had to make compromises sometimes about not taking roles if they would have taken me away from them too much but it’s all worked out. The most important thing for me was to have the family that I have and my career has also been a blessing.
“Nowadays, I’m able to play a lot of character roles from a grandmother in a grey wig to a younger person – depending on the lighting! For instance, for a TV musical I appeared in recently, I had to wear a blonde wig and dance and sing to Lady Gaga – now that was fun!”
Jane Seymour is the face of CC fashion.
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