Jane Seymour Finds Her Big Breakthrough West of the Atlantic in TV's East of Eden
An agent once told me that if I would lose my English accent, I would never stop working in America," says Britain's ravishing Jane Seymour, 30. She did and hasn't. Of late her lovely eyes (one green, one brown) et al have adorned two movies, Oh Heavenly Dog with Chevy Chase and Benji and Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve. Then currently she plays Mozart's lubricious wife in the Broadway smash Amadeus. And finally, this week, in ABC's eight-hour adaptation of John Steinbeck's East of Eden, Seymour displays her Americanized inflections with the greatest impact as Kate, a deadly seductress who makes J.R. Ewing seem like Mr. Goodwrench.
"I got a little weird, to say the least," reports Jane about playing the part. Kate sleeps with her husband's brother on their wedding night, shoots her spouse and winds up running a California whorehouse. In one scene she gives birth to unwanted twins with such savagery that her screams had to be toned down for network censors. "I don't know what the hell I was thinking when I did it," marvels Seymour. "I was possessed. It's enough to make even me not want children."
But not for long. Though twice divorced by 27, Jane has just announced plans to remarry this summer. "I think I've found the right papa for my children," she explains. "Otherwise, there would be no reason to get married." The future dad is her business manager, David Flynn, 31, who is unfazed by staying in L.A. while Jane plays Broadway. "I can't imagine any more complicated logistical tangle than ours," he admits, "but there are tougher lives." As for those two early marriages, Flynn says, "It doesn't bother me. It's probably an advantage, since she knows what it's all about."
Maybe. At 20, she wed Michael Attenborough, son of Sir Richard, and the union lasted three years. "If you marry the first guy you sleep with, what can you expect?" Jane later sensibly asked. Next came businessman Geoffrey "Jeep" Planer. "We had a glorious three-year affair, and then we were only married for six months," Seymour calculated at the time. "I've had two terrific relationships, but both ended in marriage." Planer, who remains a pal, noted: "I don't think Jane is marriageable—it is like caging a bird."
At one point as a teenager, she thought her flight had ended. "All I ever wanted to do was dance," says Jane, the eldest of three daughters of a London surgeon and his wife, a Dutch-born Japanese prison camp internee in World War II. But her ballet career ended at 16 because of knee injuries. She then changed her name (she was christened Joyce Penelope Wilhemina Frankenberg), switched to acting, and caught a small role in 1969's Oh! What a Lovely War. Her main chance came as the memorably virtuous Solitaire of the 1973 James Bond flick Live and Let Die. Hollywood didn't beckon, which enabled her to do stage classics in England before breaking into the lucrative U.S. TV market with an Emmy-nominated performance in 1976's Captains and the Kings. No snob, she has since worked in the likes of The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and Battlestar Galactica.
Ironically, Jane considers her knockout appearance a handicap. "They just don't hire people like me," she frets, though her looks haven't hurt the advance sale of Amadeus. Required to grapple amorously onstage, she caused a small scandal one night by accidentally baring more bosom than called for in the script. "There is a hook at the bottom of the costume that saves me from being totally naked," she explains. "But one enterprising gentleman sat off to the side where you can see something and took a picture."
When her Amadeus contract expires in July, Jane will join fiancé" David in the three-bedroom home she owns in the Hollywood Hills. Her main concern now is staying healthy for her grueling eight-show weekly theater schedule. She copes by "throwing a lot of vitamins down and getting a lot of sleep." Even so, she has been sidelined recently by the flu and an eye infection. "I was looking enormously like Miss Piggy the other day," Jane groans. "Now I look like something out of The Exorcist." Surely, that can mean only that Seymour is self-assuredly talented—and devilishly beautiful.
On Newsstands Now
- Amy Robach: 'I'm Lucky to Be Alive'
- Paul Walker: Inside His Tragic Death
- Julia Roberts: Choosing Family Over Hollywood
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine