Jane Seymour: 'Free to be me'

Words: Alison James    Pic: MediaPunch, Rex Shutterstock

Like a fine wine, former Bond Girl Jane Seymour seems to get better with age. It’s more than 40 years since she dazzled as Solitaire in the film Live and Let Die, but to us, she looks pretty much the same as she did then.  “It’s probably because I haven’t done anything to change my looks,” says Jane. “I just look like an older version of that girl. I had very chubby cheeks then and I don’t anymore. My high cheekbones have come with age!”

What else has come with age is a sense that now is very much Jane’s time. Since her 24-year marriage to American actor James Keach ended in 2013, she has thrown herself into work and doing the things she loves. “I’m finding there are so many new experiences out there for me,” she reveals. “The breakdown of my marriage was very hard but I don’t look back or live in a world of regrets. I try to live in the present moment, keep my heart and mind open, move forward to the best of my abilities and realise what an amazing gift it is to have life at all. I’m lucky enough to be able to do so many different things: I paint and design and have a jewellery line in England for H Samuel. I’m also very involved with fundraising for my charity – the Open Hearts Foundation, which raises funds to enrich the lives of children in the areas of health, arts, sports and education.”

And this is before we even get to the day job – acting! Jane, who turns 65 next year, admits she’s busier than ever. “Recently I was at the Film Festival in Edinburgh to promote my film Bereaved, in which I play a woman whose husband of 40 years starts acting strangely. It’s because he’s dying but doesn’t want his wife to know. He doesn’t want her to suffer and is trying to figure out the best way to let go of life. It was one of the most challenging, moving roles of my career.”

But the role with which Jane – Bond Girl apart – will forever be associated is the phenomenally successful US TV period drama, Dr Quinn Medicine Woman, which ran for five years. The last episode was made in 1998 but the CBS Action TV channel is broadcasting the show again on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. “I’m thrilled,” she smiles. “It’s a great show and popular all over the world because it really speaks to all cultures. It’s also timeless. Although set in the 1870s, the same issues are still being grappled with today. My father was an obstetrician and my inspiration for the role. Sadly he died just before I started playing Dr Quinn but he was fascinated by the history of medicine – a fascination he passed on to me. He always used to diagnose the illnesses on TV medical dramas, telling us what the ailment was and what should happen next. He’d then spend the rest of the programme telling us how they got it wrong! I was always adamant Dr Quinn be authentic as a result. That was thanks to dad.”

Would Jane be interested in doing a remake? “Absolutely! There’s a brand new audience for it now. I kept all the costumes I wore on the show, which means I have a very large closet!”

Despite living in California for many years, Jane still sounds distinctly English. “Well I am English,” she laughs. “I love England and the US too. I call myself an ‘Ameri-Brit’". But, as will be revealed in a new series of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? – which researches the hidden ancestry of celebrities – some of her roots actually go back to Eastern Europe.
Her Jewish father and family settled in Britain after fleeing Nazi persecution during the Second World War.

Family and heritage is hugely important to Jane. “I am based in California but my children have British passports. They love coming to Britain and do very good English accents,” says Jane.

Jane has four children – daughter Kate (33), and son Sean (30) from her marriage to businessman David Flynn, and twin sons Johnny and Kris, 20, from her marriage to James Keach. But she also counts stepdaughter Jenni Flynn and stepson Kalen Keach as family. Collectively, she has three grandchildren with a fourth on the way and adores being a gran. “They call me Oma, the Dutch for grandmother – my own mother was Dutch and was always known as Oma to her grandchildren. Being a grandparent is fantastic; you get to borrow the children for an intense amount of time – then hand them right back!” That’s a grandparent’s privilege for certain...

  • Dr Quinn Medicine Woman is on Saturdays and Sundays on CBS Action.
  • Bereaved is out later
    this year.
  • Who Do You Think You Are? starts in August.

There's more star chat in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday