By Christopher A. Pape
Jane Seymour has graced the movie and television screens for decades and has done so with elegance, intelligence, poise and beauty. From her days as a Bond Girl to her hit television series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, she has achieved much success. But beyond that, she is dedicated to charitable causes through her Open Hearts Foundation and most of all, is a passionate mother whose four children give her pride, joy and according to her, are her proudest accomplishment.
Jane took the time out to speak with us, granting an hour-long conversation that discussed her celebrity, her perceptions of being a “sex” symbol, her philanthropic causes, her mother’s influence on her and what it means to be a mother. She was nothing but wonderful and I hope you love the interview as much as I loved conducting it.
New York Resident (NYR): Before we begin, I just want to tell you how much I loved Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. That was an important show for me and quite literally in my top three favorite shows as a child.
Jane Seymour (JS): So you’re how old?
NYR: I’m 28.
JS: Well, my kids are similar in age and actually grew up on the set. The show had a lot of impact on people that I meet. A lot of doctors came out of that; a lot of women doctors. It’s amazing; it still plays every day, all over the world. It’s in ninety-eight countries.
NYR: You are synonymous for a glamorous life – being a Bond Girl in Live and Let Die in 1973. So can you tell us, after so many years of success, how you still do it?
JS: I don’t think of it as years of success. I just think that I’ve been very fortunate to have some great roles and some of the movies were better than others. I don’t necessarily live this glamorous life that everyone thinks I do. I’ve raised children, we grow our own vegetables, we cook – we are pretty much major homebodies unless there is some major event or charity that we go to. As a family, we like to make a difference for other people. We are not very Hollywood – we are actually the opposite of that.
NYR: For a younger generation, you are considered a “sex” symbol. How does that make you feel?
JS: It’s good for a laugh. You know, it’s really fun because I get to play these wonderfully inappropriate older women and I’d never thought that I’d get to play these kinds of characters. I love comedy, so for me, Wedding Crashers was a fantastic opportunity to show producers and directors that I was not a one-trick pony. People are always surprised to find out that I’m actually kind of funny.
NYR: Americans revere the British for their sense of humor – I guess you also get to play off that a little bit?
JS: It’s a different sense of humor, but I’ve lived in America since 1976 so I feel equally American and English.
NYR: That’s a perfect segue because I was going to ask if you get back to England; do you miss it?
JS: I get back a lot. Last year, I was there for three months making a movie called Austinland. I play a very ridiculous character.
NYR: On a different note, I always ask all of my interviewees, what charities are you involved with?
JS: My husband, James Keach and I work with the American Red Cross and at one point we went to Africa and saw what was really going on there. We came back and we decided that we wanted to make a difference. It’s ridiculous that people are living without water and in filth that would not be acceptable for an animal, in this country, to live in.
A lot of people would ask us: what do you support? So what we decided to do was to form our own foundation called the Open Hearts Foundation. And the philosophy of the organization is that we help people to overcome adversity and create something positive in their life and in the lives of others. This was very much my mother’s philosophy which is when times are tough or when challenge happens the instinct is to close of your heart and to keep it to yourself. But, if you could open your heart and be in the present moment and reach out to someone else – solutions, purpose and love will come into your life.
NYR: Can you tell us how your jewelry collection fits in?
JS: The collection is a byproduct of all of this. It originally started off as a painting. I’m a full time artist. I show my art off all over the country. And people were really responding to the image by itself but also to the sentiment because there is not one of us, who at some point in our lives, who haven’t needed to open our hearts. No matter the cause it’s important to stay open and positive. In the foundation we honor people who have taken challenge and turned it into an opportunity to help countless numbers of people.
The bottom line is that James and I are very involved with the foundation. It works on many different levels and our idea was not to reinvent the charity. It was to highlight the stories of people we know and maybe we don’t know who have taken a challenge and turned it into an opportunity to help other people. Go to www.openheartsfoundation.org for more information.
Back to the jewelry, I happened to make one piece to wear for myself when my mom had had a stroke. So in her honor and just to remind me of her I made a single necklace that I wore and I would touch it and it would put me in the right frame of mind when I was performing on Dancing with the Stars. And randomly, Kay Jewelers saw the piece and loved it. They asked if they could do something with it and we did. It’s just been a fantastic journey. The pieces are just great and people are in love with it and they are using it in many different ways. It’s very meaningful to many people and the sentiment is what people are responding to. Best of all, its inclusive of many different faiths and that’s pretty rare to have something that everyone can agree on.
NYR: You are going to be featured on our May cover, which is obviously the month in which Mother ’s Day falls – tell us how that holiday, inspires you.
JS: Being a mother, I think Mother’s Day should be every day. I can’t think of a better image than the open heart because a mother’s heart has to be open to raise a child. Any child who has loved or cared about their mother realizes that an open heart is way to link with them and to process the changes in your relationship. It’s a way to express your love for them.
NYR: What is a typical Mother’s Day for you?
JS: Normally all the kids get together and they write a card and write something beautiful. They create something special and unique for me, for Mother’s Day.
NYR: Speaking of Mother’s Day, what was the memory you most remember about your mother?
JS: We didn’t have very much money and mother had survived WWII in a concentration camp for three and half years. So wherever we went it was always about the food and so we would sit in a car, an old jalopy, and we’d have tins of cookies or crackers under our feet and on the roof rack we would have plants – my mother would actually bring plants with her to plant at the vacation spot we were staying – like lettuce plants – just to make sure we had enough to eat!
NYR: On a lighter note, what was your favorite project to work on?
JS: Obviously, Dr. Quinn was such a large project that it would be hard to ignore. It was just like a family working on that show. It was very life-changing. In terms of a lot of fun, Somewhere in Time – Christopher Reeve and I were very close and we had a great time making that movie and I think it really shows. War and Remembrance is a movie that I starred in which still impacts me to this day. It was shot over nine months, all over Europe. It was a movie about the holocaust and that whole part of my parents’ life became very real. I became as close to that period as one gets without actually being in it.
NYR: What achievement in your career stands out?
JS: It is very exciting when you are nominated or win an award because your peers have voted for you. Or, like when I received the Order of the British Empire, your country of origin honors you for the work you are doing as a humanitarian - that is very special.
But I don’t think that life is about awards. I think when someone tells me that I have great children and that they are really great people and talented – that always thrills me.
NYR: The name of the magazine is NY Resident, obviously you aren’t one…
JS: I might as well be because I come to NY quite a lot. Some of my closet friends live in the city. What I love about it is that I come in and do everything a New Yorker would do over a few months in a few days.
NYR: Favorite thing to do, to eat or to see in the city?
JS: I always go to the galleries and museums because as an artist I want to see what the latest exhibits are. I love going to the theater. And I have many favorite places to eat. But I love going to Ruby Foo’s. I love it because I can invite anyone and everyone; we can have a table and the food comes very quickly; its ridiculously delicious and then you can walk to the theater.
NYR: Working on anything new?
JS: I’ve got the movie Lake Effects coming out on the Hallmark Channel on May 6th. It’s their Mother’s Day movie. I play the mother and it’s all about the mother and her daughters. It’s all about perceived choices – about three women who learn about each other after the passing of the father. It’s just a lovely movie; it just totally got me.
My daughter’s getting married in three weeks. That’s a huge Mother’s Day experience. I’m so excited about that. •