How do you deal with negativity?
My father used to tell me that, rather like two ships that come at one another, you should accept it. Instead of connecting with it, you should give it a wide berth. I’ll look at something or someone negative, say ‘Really?’ and then walk all the way around. I don’t engage - what’s the point? Never react, only respond.
If someone says ‘black is white’ as far as you know, so wrong it’s ridiculous and you just want to kill them, I’ll move away, go mad as hell privately, and then just move on. Everybody in life wants to be heard, if what they want to do is get a rise out of you, and if you don’t rise, they’ve lost, haven’t they?
When and where are you at your happiest?
With the grandchildren, with my children, at home, or acting. I love acting. The moment they say ‘Action’, I get very excited. I still love it. You never know what you’re going to get. A happy day for me is to be creative somehow, whether it’s acting, designing, painting, cooking. It doesn’t matter what it is.
What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
Richard Attenborough said, ‘The day you believe in your publicity you’re dead.’ My father always used to say, ‘You can only ever do your own best.’ There’s no point in being jealous of someone else’s ability or success. You have to be comfortable in your own skin.
What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
Betrayal, being betrayed. I’m a very honest person, and to be betrayed cuts very deep. I haven’t learnt to deal with that very well, it’s an ongoing challenge. The way forward is to be with honest people, and tell them upfront that lying and cheating is not an option, because I don’t respond well. Life is way too short for any drama. I stay away from negativity, and from people that can’t be honest. I had a near-death experience many years ago, and it changed me and my life. When I was resuscitated, I came back, and I realised that you take nothing with you except the love you’ve shared and the difference you’ve made. It made life very simple. Everything are things. I didn’t own my house in England, my name was just on it, I was a custodian for a while, which made it very easy to sell it.
I’ve had amazing experiences, amazing relationships with people, and I just try to make a difference. I don’t understand people who just want prizes and handbags. I’ve never thought about the big picture, I never thought I’d have the life or career I have now, I just wanted to make it into chorus at panto. I wasn’t even available for James Bond, next thing I know, I’m starring in a Bond film. I do work hard, but I’ve been amazingly fortunate.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
You’re okay, just how you are. Be yourself, be authentic. It’s what I’ve told my children, as they’ve stepped out into the world, too.
What three things are at the top of your to-do list?
I’ve just done it but I’d like to do more, and that’s to go back into the theatre. For 35 years, I’ve been terrified but I loved going back. I have never been to Australia or New Zealand, so that has to happen, and I think I’d like to direct something, probably a film.
What do you think happens when we die?
I know what happens at first because I’ve been there. You have no pain and no stress, you see a white light and if you look down, you see a lot of people screaming and yelling, but you’re completely calm, and you think ‘I’m me, that’s not me, it just looks like me.’ Who you are leaves your body. I was not raised in any specific religion, I don’t discount any possibility of anything, I’m open-minded. I don’t however necessarily believe in a specific heaven and hell. I think you can have heaven and hell in life. I think it’s a mindset. Some people need to know what happens, I don’t need to know. I want to make the most of my life that I have for as long as I have it. My belief is that if, for some reason, some people go to one place and others go elsewhere, I would like to go to the place full of the people who behave the way I try to behave.
Have you been somewhere where you’ve felt in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
I remember feeling that way in India, in Jaipur, looking up at the stars, and feeling I could understand the spirituality of that part of the world. Especially when you look around and see people with nothing. And many appear to be very happy with absolutely nothing. I like to think they have access to something.
What quality do you like to bring to your relationships?
Honesty, and honest communication, not keeping it to yourself, sharing the ups and downs and the emotional rollercoaster of life.
What keeps you grounded?
Reality. Even Hollywood can be real, if I have to be on set at 5 in the morning, and I haven’t slept. That’s real. I have a crooked smile and two different-coloured eyes.
What was the last act of kindness you received?
My boyfriend David knew I was getting up early this morning, and he went down and brought me back a Starbucks. He knows how much a coffee means. He’s got that down pat.
Jane Seymour stars in ‘Hooten & The Lady’, airing on Sky 1 on Fridays at 9pm.
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