BOLD MOVES

For­mer Bond Girl Jane Sey­mour tells Kim Knight how her act­ing ca­reer has led to her role as a phi­lan­thropist

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For­mer Bond Girl Jane Sey­mour tells Kim Knight how her act­ing ca­reer has led to her role as a phi­lan­thropist

Cholera? Has Dr Quinn got a cure for you!

Ghost Town Sa­tiva. High Noon. Calamity Mary Jane. Wy­att Earple Haze. The Mag-Spliff-icent Seven. It’s the Wild West and, as Jane Sey­mour says in pos­si­bly the most sub­ver­sive voiceover of her act­ing ca­reer, “trails are about to get BLAZED”.

“Dr Quinn, Medic­i­nal Mar­i­juana Woman” — a spoof that re­cently screened on Jimmy Kim­mel Live — stars Sey­mour as her fans might never have imag­ined.

“Wow,” posted JamesNYC un­der one YouTube clip that has had more than 70,000 views. “I would ab­so­lutely love to get stoned with Jane Sey­mour.”

Join the queue, James. At 67, Sey­mour is in de­mand by ev­ery­one from Play­boy (in Fe­bru­ary, she be­came the magazine’s old­est pin-up) to Auck­land’s fe­male busi­ness elite who are bring­ing her to speak at an $825-a-head lead­er­ship con­fer­ence.

“You know, there are dif­fer­ent stages in your life where you do dif­fer­ent things,” says Sey­mour. A week ago, she was in London; today she’s at home in Malibu.

“I’m right on the ocean. I’m look­ing out of my win­dow and I see a swim­ming pool, palm trees and a big sea, a big ocean. But my house is un­der con­struc­tion. So I can also see and hear about 20 peo­ple mak­ing drilling noises and do­ing crazy stuff to my house, which is sup­posed to be fin­ished in a month from now. We’ll see.”

Also, she adds, the cater­ers will be here any minute. Tonight, the lead singer from Snow Pa­trol ( Chas­ing Cars, etc) will give a pri­vate per­for­mance for 45 guests in her back­yard. Din­ner, says Sey­mour in a cu­cum­ber sand­wich-soaked ac­cent, will be “el­e­gant”.

Once, Sey­mour was la­belled “Queen of the Minis­eries”. She be­came very fa­mous in the 1990s, star­ring in six sea­sons of Amer­i­can fron­tier fam­ily val­ues drama Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. But she also de­scribes her­self as a painter, a jew­ellery de­signer, a movie pro­ducer and a phi­lan­thropist. That pri­vate con­cert in her back­yard is a fundraiser ini­ti­ated by her daugh­ter, Katie Flynn, who runs Young Hearts, the mil­len­nial branch of Sey­mour’s own foun­da­tion, the “so­cial im­pact ac­cel­er­a­tor”, Open Hearts.

“Sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion phi­lan­thropy,” says Sey­mour.

In New Zealand, she’ll speak at the Bold Steps Con­fer­ence, ini­ti­ated by the on­line “by women for women” col­lec­tive On Be­ing Bold. A story she thinks she might tell: that time she mar­ried her ac­coun­tant and “had two beau­ti­ful chil­dren with him” but then he lost all her money and left her “beyond bank­rupt”.

“There’s an up­side ... when you’re at the bot­tom of the bar­rel there is only one way to go and that’s back up and when you have two small chil­dren and you’re a women and you’re a mother, you know what you are go­ing to do.

“You can’t just lie down and cry and say ‘why me?’ You have to wipe those tears away and you have to — as Johnny Cash’s wife June Carter Cash used to say, ‘You have to hun­ker down and squat and press on.’ So that’s what I did. I hun­kered down and squat­ted and pressed on and I called up my agent and said, ‘Look, I’m bank­rupt, home­less, pen­ni­less, yada yada, I need work yes­ter­day ...’”

Her agent called the net­works. They came back with a movie of the week. The only catch — Sey­mour had to sign up for a five-year se­ries fol­low-up. The net­work was con­fi­dent, how­ever, that the se­ries wouldn’t even­tu­ate, be­cause the lead was a woman, it was a med­i­cal show, it was a pe­riod piece and it co-starred moral­ity.

“That clearly won’t work!” re­calls Sey­mour. “And that was Dr Quinn, so that’s how things work around here. When things are bad, and if I do what June Carter Cash says and just get prac­ti­cal and move for­ward, that’s what hap­pens. I’m hop­ing that’s the mes­sage I’ll pass on to the women I have the priv­i­lege of meet­ing.”

Sey­mour is mum to four chil­dren, grand­mother to six and has been mar­ried (and di­vorced) four times.

“Well,” she says, “I mar­ried my first boyfriend and he found some­one else, so that ended very early on, im­me­di­ately af­ter the Bond film. So we were mar­ried for min­utes, re­ally.”

In 1973, Paul McCart­ney and Wings sang the theme tune for Live and Let Die. Roger Moore was Bond and Sey­mour was Soli­taire — a vir­ginal tarot card reader bed­ded by Bond, whose post-coital ban­ter was a chip­per in­struc­tion to “cheer up dar­ling, there has to be a first time for ev­ery­one”.

There is, says Sey­mour, a “cer­tain ca­chet” to be­ing a Bond Girl.

“I’m al­ways be­ing told, ‘well, the sex­ism and all that’ — but not re­ally for me. I was not play­ing a sexy char­ac­ter. I was se­lected for my vir­ginal qual­i­ties rather than my sexy qual­i­ties, which is a lit­tle trou­bling since I was still play­ing a vir­gin at 40, when I was Dr Quinn.

“But, you know, the sex­ism thing ... I re­alised, af­ter do­ing that film, that run­ning three paces be­hind a man with a gun while wear­ing high heels and not many clothes was not nec­es­sar­ily what I wanted to do. So I segued into other kinds of ma­te­rial.”

SEY­MOUR WAS born and raised in Eng­land. She went to Hol­ly­wood off the back of Live and Let Die. Her agent dumped her (“he said go­ing to Amer­ica was the big­gest mis­take of my life and he wouldn’t rep­re­sent me if I did”) and her first job was help­ing Olivia New­ton-John’s sis­ter Rona look af­ter her son. “That’s my your-partof-the-world con­nec­tion,” she says.

1970’s Hol­ly­wood was the New Hol­ly­wood. Au­di­ences were younger and univer­sity-ed­u­cated and the all-pow­er­ful studios were los­ing ground to the clout and in­no­va­tion of in­di­vid­ual di­rec­tors and pro­duc­ers. A Wikipedia list of the “im­por­tant and no­table fig­ures” of the time in­cludes 56 male movie di­rec­tors — and just one woman.

“I was ex­posed to a ma­jor, very pow­er­ful pro­ducer,” Sey­mour says. “It was ar­ranged that I should go to his house and watch a screen test. He was hav­ing a screen­ing of a ma­jor movie, with a lot of peo­ple, and I came there, and there was no one there. Just me.”

I re­alised, af­ter do­ing that film, that run­ning three paces be­hind a man with a gun while wear­ing high heels and not many clothes was not nec­es­sar­ily what I wanted to do.

Jane Sey­mour

The pro­ducer, who Sey­mour does not name, tells her he loves her work. He is very ex­cited about hav­ing her star in this movie. She is the right per­son for the job. And now, he says, it is her job. She has to do what she has to do.

“And I said, ‘Yes, a great job in the screen test.’ And he went, ‘No, you know what I mean ...’”

Sey­mour first went pub­lic with this story late last year. She re­counts push­ing his hand off her leg, and wait­ing for a taxi to col­lect her. She says the pro­ducer — who is no longer alive — told her at the time that she would never work again if she talked about the in­ci­dent.

“You know,” she says, “There are a lot of things com­ing out now. In­clud­ing what is hap­pen­ing in the church. There are lots of places where power cor­rupts and I think that’s what it’s about. It’s about peo­ple us­ing power over you.”

SEY­MOUR WAS born Joyce Pene­lope Wil­helmina Franken­burg. Her fa­ther’s fam­ily were Pol­ish Jews, her mother Dutch. Dur­ing World War II, her mother, who had been work­ing as a nurse in In­done­sia, was im­pris­oned in a Ja­panese in­tern­ment camp.

“She used to say that in life ev­ery­one would have chal­lenges, and that the nat­u­ral in­stinct is to close off your heart. If you did that and you didn’t share it with any­one and you didn’t let go of it, it would eat you alive emo­tion­ally and, ul­ti­mately, phys­i­cally.

“But she said if you could ac­cept what has hap­pened — how­ever dif­fi­cult — open your heart up and be of ser­vice and help some­one else, then you had a pur­pose in life. She firmly be­lieved that when you had pur­pose in life, you could find hap­pi­ness.”

Sey­mour (who changed her name to some­thing she thought would be eas­ier for the show busi­ness world to re­mem­ber) says three “near-death” ex­pe­ri­ences have con­vinced her that her mother’s phi­los­o­phy is cor­rect.

She re­counts one par­tic­u­lar mo­ment when she went into ana­phy­lac­tic shock af­ter an an­tibi­otics in­jec­tion went wrong. “Long story short — the only pur­pose of this story — is that I re­alised there are two things you take with you

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