Jane Seymour certainly lives her life to the full - she's conquered Hollywood while raising four children, stayed strong after her marriages ended and found love again in her 60s. And now, to mark International Women's Day, the actress is bearing her soul and sharing the lessons she has learnt in love and life with her fans.
At 72, she shows no signs of slowing down. Her latest role as the leading lady Harriet, or 'Harry', in Harry Wild is testament to this. Jane celebrates her role for being "sexy" as she takes on the character of a retired professor who can’t help but get involved in cases assigned to her police officer son.
She tells HELLO!: "You don't really have someone my age starring in their own show playing a very irreverent, intellectual, kind of out there, sexy, fun woman. That's different with Harry Wild."
Taking a break from filming in Dublin, Jane says she's really proud of the series. Of course the actress is no stranger to playing strong female leads. Her title role in Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman has changed women's lives around the world. She says: "I keep meeting women who became doctors because of it and she was just such an inspiring and strong woman at the time. There were no women leads really. It was one of the first ones."
Jane Seymour continues to live life to the full
Her love for work and life is infectious. Looking back over the years, she reflects on her experiences from her four marriages to Micheal Attenborough (1971-1973), Geoffrey Planer (1977-1978), David Flynn (1981-1992) and James Keach (1993-2005). All of her exes remain her friends to this day.
She says: "The number of marriages is frightening but the explanation of all of them is perfectly rational. I married young at 20 to the lovely Michael Attenborough, who to this day is one of my closest friends.
"When the marriage was good, it was great and I never ended any of them. I was having a career and they found somebody else while I was busy working, I think a bit of that went on. But with the men who are the fathers of my children, even though the marriage ends, the parenting never ends. You created life and you have these beautiful children that are a big part of your life.
The Harry Wild star is happy in her daughter Katie's company
"It's no fun to break up in marriage, but at different times in your life, you are looking for different things. And it can be hard to be married to somebody that is working a lot, that is out there being recognized."
Finding love again in her 60s came as a surprise to Jane. "I was definitely not looking," she says. In a twist of fate, Jane and David Green had nearly worked together long ago before their paths crossed again - sending sparks flying.
"David showed up at my house one day with one of my oldest friends, who was also one of his oldest friends. He came over for breakfast to see her and the next thing I knew we were having long conversations. We realized we almost worked together a long time ago.
Jane and David have a special connection
"We had lunch and dinner and the next thing we realized was that we had a lot in common. And the same values. We both had children, we both had long marriages that had ended and we both love what we do. It's a different time in our lives and we appreciate the time we have now in our lives together."
Jane reveals the most important life lesson to come from her marriages was learning to focus on herself, the very same wisdom her mother Mieke Frankenberg taught her. “From my marriages, I've learned that you have to love yourself. If you can't love yourself, you can't love someone else,” she adds.
“It's one of the things my mother taught me. She said, 'You can't fix other people or change other people, you have to change yourself and be comfortable in your own skin. When you do that, then you have a chance at having a real relationship.'"
The leading lady shares the lessons she has learnt in love
It is easy to see why her mother is her biggest female role model. Mieke's fighting spirit saw her survive both World War II and an abusive marriage, before she met and fell in love with Jane’s dad. "She was such a great inspiration in that way," she says. "She always felt that out of adversity came the opportunity to find purpose in helping others who maybe were going through something that she'd gone through."
She adds: "Her real belief was that finding purpose in life and helping others was the thing that enabled her to have such a rich life. It's something that she has passed on through generations. Not just to me, but to my grandchildren who are out there feeding the homeless every Sunday and doing all kinds of wonderful things."
The actress pictured smiling with her mum and inspiration Mieke Frankenberg
Becoming a mother herself wasn’t something she had planned for. She says, "I didn't think I was going to have any children. I remember being younger and looking around seeing my friends who had kids and thinking they were so restricted. They couldn't do this or that, they couldn't afford it or they couldn't find a babysitter, all the traumas. But my father's specialty was being an OBGYN. I was around the birth of babies all the time. And when I had my first baby, my whole life changed."
Jane went on to have four beautiful children who she now counts among her greatest successes. "Suddenly from being a woman on your own in your life, you are part of a sorority. You give birth and you have that special love, and for as long as you live you will continue to be a mother. It is not a job that ends."
Juggling motherhood with work, her children would join her on set all over the world and often would be cast with minor roles. These days, as a grandmother, she has the joy of travelling with her grandchildren, and seeing how the experiences enrichen their lives. It's also helped her own daughter appreciate all she gained from her own life on the road when she was younger.
"My daughter Katie let me borrow my granddaughter Willa, who is 10, for 10 days. Just the two of us," she recalls. "It was the coolest time ever. I took her to Belfast and Dublin. I introduced her to a whole life that she would never normally see and my daughter Katie said, 'Mom I'm so glad you got to do it.'
The star in the character of her leading lady in Harry Wild
"She came back two years older and even more respectful of everything and excited and invigorated. Katie said she suddenly realized this is what I did for her. Maybe I wasn't at every school function, maybe I didn't always pick her up from school. But I really did try my best to juggle all of it. I'm so proud of all my kids. They saw I loved what I did, and so they have found things that they love. They have found their passions. And they're all just like my mother - very focussed on helping other people, and I'm really proud of them for that."
Jane had fun when she showed Willa round her latest TV set Harry Wild
Talking about important life moments, Jane reveals she went through an "awakening" after going into an anaphylactic shock on a film set - an experience which "changed her whole life". The former Bond Girl says she "died, left her body and was resuscitated" as she shot scenes for her portrayal as American-born Greek soprano Maria Callas in Onassis: The Richest Man in the World back in 1988.
It was a challenging time, but it also allowed her to see how much she meant to her family. Jane says she would do anything for her sisters Sally and Anne and they, in return, proved they would do the same.
"My sisters have literally put their lives on hold to be there for me when I needed it," she says. "When I had that near death experience on the set in Spain, my sister Sally who worked for the airlines, could easily have lost her job because she literally got on a flight, came to Madrid and just laid down in the bed next to me for three days. I was terrified to close my eyes, I thought I'd die if I closed my eyes and leave my body again."
It's not only her sisters though who inspire her. Jane surrounds herself with a whole group of amazing women. The late Olivia Newton-John, who sadly passed away aged 73 in August last year, was one of her first friends in Hollywood. Jane praises Olivia for spending her final months helping others.
She says: "She was an incredible inspiration to me, how she opened up about what it is to have cancer. About surviving and thriving and dealing with the ups and downs of her life. I had this extraordinary privilege of knowing her, not so much as an actress and a star, but as a human being. When I meet women like that, they are the women I am excited by."
Olivia Newton-John was one of Jane's first friends in Hollywood
One woman particularly exciting her at the moment is her Harry Wild co-star Amy Huberman. Jane says: "She’s like an Irish version of me, just 30 years younger! She has become a really great friend. She juggles everything."
And always keen to shine a light on other women in the entertainment industry, Jane is loving watching her former co-star Jennifer Coolidge's career skyrocket after they had fantastic fun filming Austenland togther. She says: "I could not be more thrilled for her success right now. I remember hanging with her and she's just a brilliant genius. I love it when I see people who are wonderful people doing this forever suddenly get recognized. That's really cool."
MORE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY:
Michelle Obama's 10 most powerful quotes
Kate Moss reveals her life lessons and special way she uplifts women
Elizabeth Hurley reveals how motherhood transformed her life
Read more HELLO! US stories here
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