Jane Seymour talks to Gabrielle Fagan about finding love again after the break-up of her fourth marriage and how her family’s past informs her positive outlook
Finding happiness again following heartbreak is often said to be the best revenge, and Hollywood star Jane Seymour is clearly determined to prove the maxim true.
It’s two and a half years since the end of her fourth marriage – a 20-year partnership with actor and director James Keach, with whom she has twin sons – but the glamorous 64-year-old actress reveals she’s surprised herself by finding love again.
“Falling in love again is especially sweet at my age – it’s like a whole new world. It’s so nice at this time in my life to find someone with whom I have so much in common. It was totally unexpected as I certainly wasn’t looking for romance, but I’m very happy it’s happened,” she says of her 18-month relationship with 66-year-old film director and producer, David Green.
“We once nearly worked together around 35 years ago and since then our paths have crossed socially a couple of times. Then when we were both newly single, we met at an event and our relationship blossomed,” she says.
“We’re both English and live in America, so we understand each other’s cultural references, have the same sense of humour, have had long marriages and have adult children. There’s so much shared experience that once we started talking, we just never stopped.”
Understandably, after her past experiences, she’s wary about even discussing whether she’d ever marry again. “That’s the 10 million dollar question – all I can say is, definitely not today!” she says with a teasing smile.
“Anyway, I’m not available currently as my divorce isn’t completely final. But I believe in love, romance and being happy and not going back to something which doesn’t work but being open minded about something different and allowing that to work.”
While any decision on future marriage apparently remains open, it’s clear she’s worked hard to close the door on the hurt of the past.
“My marriage ending was devastating and of course I cried a lot in private. In tough times I paint, art is a great therapy for me, I meditate and I write letters, which I never send and eventually destroy, all of which help get rid of whatever bile there is within me,” says the British-born star, known for her role in 1990s TV drama, Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman.
“James and I are good friends, so while our marriage may not be intact, the family is and always will be. It’s an extended family and we’re all very close – my exes, their new wives or partners and all the children get along well with each other. I’m very proud of all my kids and there’s nothing more important to me than family. We celebrate special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas together,” says Seymour.
As well as two step-children and her 19-year-old sons, Johnny and Kris from her marriage to Keach, Seymour also has two children, actress Katie, 33, and photographer/director Sean, 30, from a previous 10-year marriage to businessman, David Flynn.
Her first marriage in 1971 to Michael Attenborough, son of director Richard, ended after two years and she was briefly married in 1977 to artist Geoffrey Planer.
Her stoicism in the face of personal adversity is inspired, she says, by her Dutch mother, who was in a Japanese internment camp during the Second World War.
“She always taught me, ‘Open your heart when times get tough, accept what happens, live in the moment and reach out to help others as there’s always someone worse off than you’. She believed, rightly, that gives you purpose and helps you heal. So I always do my best to forgive and move forward,” she says.
However, discovering her family history for BBC 1’s Who Do You Think You Are?, screened in August, proved extremely hard to bear.
The series explored the fate of two of her father’s Polish-Jewish relatives in the Second World War and Seymour discovered that while, against the odds, her great aunts survived the conflict, one was so traumatised by the loss of her children and fearful of being sent back to Soviet-occupied Poland, she took her own life in 1946.
“It was a privilege to find out about my family... but emotionally it was a roller coaster and I felt like I’d been through hell,” says Seymour, whose name was Joyce Frankenberg until she Anglicised it to Jane Seymour at the insistence of her first show business agent.
“The tragedy and turmoil they went through makes me appreciate even more how blessed I am. I’ve been so lucky to have my family – I now have four grandchildren – and enjoy security and not only that, have been able to fulfil myself through my career,” says Seymour, who played a Jewish mother fleeing the Nazis in 1988 TV series, War And Remembrance.
It’s one of many roles in a career which began when she was only 19, before she found global fame as Bond girl Solitaire opposite Roger Moore in Live And Let Die in 1973.
“I remember actually falling asleep in the bed when we filmed one of our love scenes because they took so long arranging the lighting that I dozed off. That was a little embarrassing,” she recalls, laughing.
“Eventually they woke me up with a cup of tea and there’s a picture of Roger and me sipping one together in a very genteel fashion, not looking particularly sexy, just before we got back to work.”
Over the years, she’s garnered a host of awards including an Emmy and Golden Globes, appeared in TV series including Smallville and Law & Order: SVU, and carved out a niche in comedy roles following an appearance in 2005 film Wedding Crashers. In 2013, she had a role in the film Austenland and also produces on independent films.
Still remarkably youthful-looking Seymour, who uses skincare range Crepe Erase, has refused to countenance cosmetic surgery, despite working in Hollywood.
“I’m the only person I know who doesn’t go in for anything like that or Botox,” she says. “I see those people who’ve stretched their faces and their eyes and lips are doing funny things, but I just don’t want that. As an actress, my face must be able to move and express emotion and, after all, ageing’s inevitable, so I just try to stay healthy and look the best I can. Inside I feel like a very knowledgeable 20-year-old.”
A near-death experience in 1988, following a wrongly administered injection, helped shape her down-to-earth approach.
“I had to be resuscitated and had an out-of-body experience where I looked down on myself. It gave me a perspective of how fragile life is and made me appreciate what’s important. It’s not luxuries like yachts and huge houses or awards – it’s the love you share with family and friends, and the difference you make raising awareness for causes and helping improve others’ lives,” says Seymour, who has her own charitable foundation.
“Over the years, I’ve learnt that out of challenge comes opportunity and I know if I hadn’t been tested, I wouldn’t have pushed myself or been able to discover my abilities,” she says.
“I have a wonderful clock in my house without numerals, but with each of the 12 hours marked simply ‘now’ which reminds me to be in the present. I treasure happy memories, try to let go of painful ones and endeavour to be as positive as I can.”