"My experiences with television have left me more fulfilled than the big screen"

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"You have to count on living every single day in a way you believe will make you feel good about your life - so that if it were over tomorrow, you'd be content with yourself." - Jane Seymour.

The actress burst onto the screen in the 1970's playing the Bond girl opposite 007 Roger Moore in Live And Let Die. However since then she has concentrated mostly on television. Some readers will no doubt be familiar with her role in Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Her performance in this and other shows like A Marriage of Convenience, Are You Lonesome Tonight? all helped cement her position as the queen of the miniseries.

Seymour now stars in Heart of a Stranger. The film airs on Hallmark on 2 January at 9:30 pm. Through email, Indiantelevision.com's correspondent Ashwin Pinto caught up with the star to find out about her choice of roles, why she prefers television to film.

 

Could you talk about the character you play in Heart of a Stranger?

Heart of a Stranger is a movie based on a true life story. It is about a single mother who undergoes a heart transplant with that of a 22 year old. The heart transplant is followed by a complete personality and behaviour change. There is a complete transformation from the prim and proper mother to a boisterous youngster. I play the role of Jill Maddox who after the transplant exhibits an astonishing personality change.

I begin chugging down beer and start sporting mini-skirts and tight blouses. At that time, it was just the kind of stuff I wanted to do. I wanted to do something fun, at the same time keep in mind my age. I managed to get what I wanted through the role. Shooting for the movie was so much fun.

 

Is there anything you pulled from your own experiences into this character?

Not really! I guess in real life I've not really come across something like this. But yes, the movie did give me a chance to go completely wild and do all the things I wanted to.

 
"I like characters that are real and have substance in them. They can be serious roles or just fun stuff"
 

Why did you want to become an actress in the first place? What took you down that road?

I did not want to become an actress in the first place. I wanted to be a ballerina before I wanted to be anything else. I started practicing when I was very young and I could not be happier doing anything else. I joined the Kirov Ballet and I was getting ready for my second stage performance when I had a really bad fall and suffered a knee injury.

I was devastated when my parents told me that I could not dance anymore. I was shattered and I still remember how I just would not stop crying. I guess I was lucky, since I had one foot into acting by then and was doing Richard Attenborough's Oh What a Lovely War. From there onwards there was no looking back. From stage to big screen I did it all. Somewhere inside though there was always this little child who wanted to be a ballerina!

 

What kind of characters appeal to you the most?

I like characters that are real and have substance in them. They can be serious roles or just fun stuff, but I like to leave the audience with something to think about like a message or something.

 

Since you started your career how has the image of women onscreen evolved and matured?

Well, I think the entire art of acting is taken up much more seriously. I guess experiences teach you things. I see a lot of talented and very good actresses making a mark in the industry. Women are definitely being taken more seriously and are getting more 'solid' roles.

 

There are two theories about the acting craft. One is that you should always be truthful while acting and never lie. The other theory is the opposite which is that acting is the art of lying. Which theory do you believe in?

There is yet another theory. This is to get into the skin of the character you are profiling (so you're not yourself) and then portraying that character honestly. That way you are not lying and not telling the truth either.

 
"The industry is tough and competition is high. I believe it is best to be professional and do your job well "
 

Do people still identify with you as the Bond girl from Live And Let Die after all these years?

Well at that time we would all have fun and kid with each other saying "The name is Bond.. Bond Girl!" I think the movie was huge and made an impact and is still remembered. I guess there are people who would still identify me as the Bond Girl, but I'm not complaining.

 

What do you think about the quality of Hollywood films and television miniseries, dramas and sitcoms being made right now?

Great stuff! I think producers and writers are getting more and more inclined towards doing things differently. They are willing to take chances and do things differently and they're work is getting noticed and appreciated. Even the audience is open to new programming. They appreciate new stuff and I guess don't like monotony and are always on the lookout for 'stories with a difference'.

 

In the past actresses have spoken about the unpleasantness of the casting process where you might have to read with someone who may not even be an actor in the presence of some unknown executive. Have you had similar experiences?

I guess that's just part of the game. Things like this happen, but I don't think one can take offence to it.

The industry is tough and competition is high. I believe it is best to be professional and do your job well. Once you have proved yourself as an actress I'm sure things will be a lot easier. It is the initial years that are a struggle.

 

Why have you concentrated more on television as opposed to film?

I have always had a soft corner towards television. I guess my experiences with television have left me more fulfilled than the big screen. This has a lot to do with the kind of roles that came my way too. I saw better stuff on television than film so I opted for it and then suddenly I look back and more that 30 years have passed with my journey with television.

 

Why are Hollywood film and television scriptwriters so insecure when it comes to creating full fledged characters for women who transcend clichés?

I think this is changing. Writers are experimenting with scripts having full fledged female characters. Women are gaining importance and getting applauded for their work.

 

What kind of research did you do for Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman?

I had absolutely no time to research anything, it all happened so quickly. But over a period of time as I continued working in the series, I read lots of books and talked to people who knew the facts about that period. We consulted the Smithsonian for medical history and did intense research to make sure it was as close to reality. We also had a doctor on the set at all times.

 

Which has been the most satisfying role of your career and why?

I am always unable to answer this question. I cant really point out to any one role and say this was the most satisfying one. You know some times you just think you have done 'everything' and then this one role comes your way and you think this far you really did not do 'anything'.

I have enjoyed every character I've played this far and all of them have been very satisfying.

 
"You know some times you just think you have done 'everything' and then this one role comes your way and you think this far you really did not do 'anything'"
 

As cultural past times do you think that film and television are overrated today compared to literature, painting and poetry? These three do allow for more use of the imagination and creativity.

I guess it's the younger generation who are more into film, television and music. I think a lot of it is to be attributed to the lifestyle and the stress that the kids are put through in everyday life. They really don't know how to sit back and enjoy the smaller pleasures of life.

 

You have been an advocate of healthy food habits. Why is it that producers and executives want actresses to look thin? As a guy I find that look a turn off sometimes..

Yes, I am an advocate of healthy food habits. It is best to eat healthy and stay healthy. I think they believe that the audiences want to see thin actresses and so they give them what they 'think' the audiences want.

When people come to watch a film they want to see something that is pleasant and soothing to the eyes. I don't think it is particularly 'thin' that is being advocated. It is to look pleasant.

Finally after all these years do you think that long time admirers of your work including your painting really know who you are?

Well, I'm normally very reserved and to myself. I'm sure they know who I am in the broad sense of the term, but the real Jane Seymour I like to keep a mystery.

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