Image: George Pimentel
Jane Seymour on acting, cooking, empty nesting and her new movie, Little Italy.
One of the most well-known TV doctors of all time, Jane Seymour is also a former Bond girl, Playboy model, talented cook, celebrated artist, spokesperson, mom, grandma…and much, much more. This 67-year-old multi-tasks to the max and shows no signs of slowing down. I sat down to hear all about her about her latest film, Little Italy, starring Emma Roberts and Hayden Christiansen (which was filed and is set in the heart of Toronto), but we ended up chatting about so much more!
Sara Cation: What drew you to the film Little Italy?
Jane Seymour: Oh, did you see it? Did you notice I was in it? I’m not on the poster, but I am thinking of going around town and writing my name at the bottom of all of them, ha ha! It’s a really fun rom-com. I love Emma Roberts, I think she is so talented, Hayden Christiansen is so lovely, and all the rest of the actors are extraordinary. It’s a small role, and I was able to fit it in! Why not?
SC: It’s a small role, but you play a big-time chef. Do you cook in real life?
JS: Absolutely! I don’t just cook, I grow all my own vegetables and fruits. In fact, I’ve just done a pilot for a cooking show and I’m waiting to hear if it’ll be picked up.
SC: What did you make for the pilot?
JS: I made salmon and shrimp (two of my favourites) with a beautiful salad from the garden. For dessert, I did a really naughty Eton Mess, which is basically a Pavlova that’s been crushed up and made into a mess. It was funny, because I did the pilot with my grandchildren who are 2, 5 and 6—they’ll be on the show with me if it’s picked up. One asked, “Is it called an Eton Mess because you eat and it’s messy?” Another asked, as we were picking salad ingredients, “Why does everything have to be green?” It’s funny to hear what they come up with.
SC: Are you a healthy eater?
I’m a foodie…but I tend to like healthy food. Breakfast this morning, for example, was smoked salmon. I eat lots of chicken and fish and not much red meat; I love vegetables. And if I’m going to eat chocolate, I prefer dark chocolate, which happens to be healthy. I do like ice cream, but only on occasion and only a little bit. And that’s the key: If I don’t deprive myself if anything, then I don’t feel the need to binge on anything.
SC: What’s your beauty regime?
JS: It’s simple. I don’t even do facials or anything like that. I just exfoliate well and use the product I promote—Crepe Erase—which I’m told is the No.1 cream out there. It’s for the body, but I use it on my face because it plumps the skin without being greasy and making me break out.
I also don’t wear much make up, as you can see, and I usually do my own, because after 67 years of looking at my own face, I know exactly what to do. I’m also an artist, and if I can paint a portrait, I can mask the bits of my face that I don’t like. I think the older you get, the less you should wear—it all cracks up and highlights your flaws. Oh and if you wear anything sparkling, your wrinkles have a field day! “Hey! We’re here! We’re dancing! Notice us!” It’s not really about covering up, it’s about having healthy skin, and drinking lots of water helps. And I’m a great believer in not doing anything permanent or semi permanent.
SC: That must be a bit unique in your industry.
JS: I’ve never done what everyone else does. When everyone cut their hair, I grew mine long. When everyone said, “You can’t do film, television and theatre,” I did all three in the same year. When people said, “You can’t be an actress and have children,” I did. If someone says, “You can’t do that,” I do it.
Hey, you’re only as old as you feel. At 67, I posed for Playboy...but with clothes on.
SC: What was posing for Playboy at 67 like?
JS: It was fun! It was really all about being comfortable in your own skin and feeling sensual. It was less racy than what the teens are doing on Instagram these days.
SC: How do you feel close to home wherever you are?
JS: Home is where the heart is. The Internet makes it easy—it doesn’t matter where I am, I can be 100% in touch with my family globally daily. I never think about it. Sometimes, I get to I take them with me, which is fun.
SC: What’s a recent example of sharing your world with your kids?
JS: One of my 22-year old twin boys is a college baseball player, and I got to see him in Pittsburgh and take him to meet the Pirates, which he loved. I was on the radio, and they stuck him on the radio with me. And when I was on TV, he did some behind-the-scenes filming for social media. He was great! I love sharing the experiences that I’m exposed to with my kids, and I love sharing their experiences.
SC: Tell me about sharing in your kids’ experiences.
JS: My other twin boy is rock’n’roll-er living in Nashville. When I went to visit him, I asked him to show me the music he likes, so he takes me to this place and, well, basically I ended up in a mosh pit! He didn’t even warn me! Then he realized I was about to get crushed, so he took me up to the balcony, and the next thing I know, the guy beside me jumped off the balcony and into the crowd! He promised me he doesn’t do that though.
SC: It sounds like you have great relationships with your kids.
JS: I am so proud of them. They are all very successful. We didn’t manage to make any rocket scientists and no one is going to make a ton of money, but they all are all unique and authentic and unspoiled and they work really hard at what they’re doing. So, as a mother I’ve decided to give myself a tick. Somehow they survived being the child of a celebrity.
SC: How did you instil that work ethic in your kids?
JS: They watched me really loving what I do, and I encouraged them to pursue something they loved doing. They don’t just sit back and say, “Hey I’m going to be in a reality show; they want to make it in their own right. Being a child of a celebrity can be a horrible thing, I didn’t realize, because you can do something, and be really good and really clever but someone will say, “You only got where you are because of who your mom is.”
SC: How does it feel with your kids out of the house?
JS: Some people talk about having an empty nest at this stage, but my nest is getting fuller and fuller by the minute! In fact, I’ve had to remodel the house! My kids come over and bring their kids over and their friends over. And that’s my idea of heaven: To share with my kids, their friends and my friends the fruits of my labour.
SC: What’s the key to creating the kind of space your kids and grandkids and their friends all keep coming back to?
JS: I have an art studio there—I’m an artist and a painter—so when my kids bring their friends over who like art, I’ll bring out the supplies. I have a whole kit there for the musician kids, and I encourage them to play any time of the day or night, which they do. I have a very nice swimming pool kitted out for babies, so I encourage my daughter to bring her friends and with their babies over. How do I do it? I let them do it their way and I respect their space. If they want me around, great and, if not, I have plenty to do. And I don’t stay up till 4 a.m. hovering over the hot tub. The hot tub is their time. But diapers for the little ones? Yes, I can do that.
SC: What’s coming up next?
JS: I’ve just been asked to do the play The Lion in Winter, so I’m reading that right now and deciding. I hadn’t done theatre for 35 years, so I recently returned. I thought I’d lost my nerve, so I made myself do it. I am one of those people who—other than jumping out of aeroplanes or bungee jumping—will do what scares me. So I made myself do Noel Coward’s Vortex in Singapore, and I loved every minute of it. Then I started getting offered lots of theatre, so I’m thinking of doing short run here and there. I’ve got some movies I’m producing and helping develop. I’ve got another comedy coming out soon called Friendsgiving and one called War With Grandpa starring Robert DeNiro, which we actually shot here in Toronto, and then another movie which I starred in called Mistrust. I did a documentary about Glen Campbell and Alzheimer’s, which is important to me. I run a non-profit called Open Hearts Foundation. I do a lot of public speaking, a lot of designing, a lot of painting, I’ve got fine art sculptures going up in New Orleans, Florida, Ohio and Minneapolis. I do lots of different things, which is why sometimes doing a small role in a film like Little Italy is fun. It’s a great script, it’s with great people, I can do my little bit, then say bye bye!