Actress Jane Seymour, 65, says no to Botox

Actress Jane Seymour had her breasts reshaped and eyelids fixed 24 years ago, and has done nothing else since then.
Actress Jane Seymour had her breasts reshaped and eyelids fixed 24 years ago, and has done nothing else since then.PHOTO: BRITISH THEATRE PLAYHOUSE

Actress Jane Seymour does not hide her age but plays a woman holding on to her youth in Noel Coward's The Vortex

Ageless Hollywood actress Jane Seymour says she would rather take advantage of the light than submit to Botox.

"As an actress, I feel it's valuable to have a face that moves," the 65-year-old says over the telephone from Los Angeles.

Two dozen years ago, she had her breasts reshaped, and years before that she had her eyelids "fixed" so photographers would not have to touch up pictures. But nothing since then.

"I'm one of the very few actresses in my age group who hasn't had a facelift or gone to a dermatologist or had Botox," she says. "I'm the last of a dying species."

She does feel for her character in the stage play The Vortex, which runs at the Raffles Hotel Jubilee Hall from April 28 to May 14. Florence Lancaster is a vain socialite eager to hold on to her youth, literally, though in another sense - she is dating a man young enough to be her son.

"The appeal of the play is the concept of this woman who has always been the star of her world and does not want to stop. She refuses to grow old," the actress says. "I'm 65, I know some vibrant 70-year-olds. Sixty-five to 70 is now what used to be 35 to 40."

  • BOOK IT / THE VORTEX BY NOEL COWARD

  • WHERE: Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road

    WHEN: April 28 to May 14, 8pm Tuesday to Fridays, 4pm and 8pm Saturday and Sunday

    ADMISSION: $115 to $155 from Sistic (call 6348-555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

    INFO: The play is rated as having some mature content

Britain-born Seymour is returning to the stage after decades.

In the 1970s and 1980s, she played Lady Macbeth, Nora in Ibsen's Doll House and, notably, was Constanza, the wife of Mozart, in the 1980 Broadway version of Amadeus, British writer Peter Shaffer's iconic play about the composer. The Broadway version cast Ian McKellen as Mozart's antagonist Salieri and won multiple Tony Awards.

But most of her career has been onscreen, starting with a Bond girl role opposite Roger Moore in the 1973 film Live And Let Die.

In the 1980s, she was a romantic lead to the likes of Christopher Reeve (Somewhere In Time, 1980) and Tom Selleck (Lassiter, 1984), even penning a sappy how-to book, Jane Seymour's Guide To Romantic Living, in 1986.

When reminded of that book, she says: "It was a very long time ago. Please forgive me and let's leave it at that."

On television, she won an Emmy for playing soprano Maria Callas in the 1988 TV movie Onassis: The Richest Man In The World. She won a Golden Globe for playing antagonist Kate Ames in a 1981 mini-series adaptation of John Steinbeck's East Of Eden, and another for perhaps her most popular role - the titular character of the 1990s TV drama Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman.

Today, however, while the paparazzi might delight in sneaking photos of her body in a bikini, she gets mainly bit parts in mainstream movies such as screwball comedy Wedding Crashers (2005) and this year's Fifty Shades Of Black, a send-up of Fifty Shades Of Grey.

Meaty movie roles for her come from independent production houses such as Vago Productions. In last year's marital drama Bereave, it cast her opposite another ageing actor, 73-year-old Malcolm McDowell, who delighted critics in 1971 as the lead in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.

"Big movies are not where they want people of our age group," Seymour says. "In theatre, you can get away with different ages. You can get older and play younger, you can be younger and play older."

The Vortex is presented here by production house British Theatre Playhouse, known for bringing in farces such as last year's No Sex Please. It is directed by Bob Tomson, known for TV dramas (BBC's Hero To Zero in 2000) and West End theatre productions such as skiing comedy On The Piste.

The Vortex is not light fare even though its creator, the late Noel Coward - Seymour's first husband's godfather and apparently fond of the Raffles Hotel - was known for frothy relationship comedies such as Blithe Spirit and Private Lives.

In The Vortex, a woman's flamboyant extramarital affairs estrange her from her son, especially when he learns that his mother's lover was formerly engaged to his fiancee.

"She's this glorious woman who just says: 'Why should I stay at home because I'm a certain age and my husband's boring? Why shouldn't I have fun?' That is not to say that she's right, not at all, she abandons her son," Seymour says. "But her spirit is young and why should she give up on joie de vivre (enjoying life)?"

Seymour is certainly game for anything. She paints, designs furniture and also creates jewellery under her own Open Hearts label.

She is a celebrity ambassador for charity Childhelp and acts in spoof videos for comedy website Funny Or Die. Dr Quinn, Morphine Woman imagines the character as a drug lord, while James Bond Sensitivity Training is a parody of the recent Bond movie Spectre.

"I'm probably busier now than when I was younger," she says.

Will she ever slow down? Probably not, she says. Her three near-death experiences make her greedy to enjoy life.

She nearly died of eclampsia when pregnant with her twins. She has six grown children and was married four times, first to Michael Attenborough (son of director Richard Attenborough), then to artist Geoffrey Planer, to businessman David Flynn and to actor James Keach.

The second time, she almost succumbed to a viral infection while filming in Puerto Rico, and the third time, she went into anaphylactic shock when an injection meant to save her hit an artery.

"I think when you have a near miss, you just experience life more," she says. "I want to live as much as I can, have great experiences, grow as a human being and, in my so-called retirement age, be even better at what I do."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2016, with the headline '65 is the new 35'. Print Edition | Subscribe