Cholera? Has Dr Quinn got a cure for you!

Ghost Town Sativa. High Noon. Calamity Mary Jane. Wyatt Earple Haze. The Mag-Spliff-icent Seven. It's the Wild West and, as Jane Seymour says in possibly the most subversive voiceover of her acting career, "trails are about to get BLAZED".

Dr Quinn, Medicinal Marijuana Woman — a spoof that recently screened on Jimmy Kimmel Live — stars Seymour as her fans might never have imagined.

"Wow," posted JamesNYC under one YouTube clip that has had more than 70,000 views. "I would absolutely love to get stoned with Jane Seymour."


Join the queue, James. At 67, Seymour is in demand by everyone from Playboy (in February, she became the magazine's oldest pin-up) to Auckland's female business elite who are bringing her to speak at an $825-a-head leadership conference.

"You know, there are different stages in your life where you do different things," says Seymour. A week ago, she was in London; today she's at home in Malibu.

"I'm right on the ocean. I'm looking out of my window and I see a swimming pool, palm trees and a big sea, a big ocean. But my house is under construction. So I can also see and hear about 20 people making drilling noises and doing crazy stuff to my house, which is supposed to be finished in a month from now. We'll see."

Also, she adds, the caterers will be here any minute. Tonight, the lead singer from Snow Patrol (Chasing Cars, etc) will give a private performance for 45 guests in her backyard. Dinner, says Seymour in a cucumber sandwich-soaked accent, will be "elegant".

Once, Seymour was labelled "Queen of the Miniseries". She became very famous in the 1990s, starring in six seasons of American frontier family values drama Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. But she also describes herself as a painter, a jewellery designer, a movie producer and a philanthropist. That private concert in her backyard is a fundraiser initiated by her daughter, Katie Flynn, who runs Young Hearts, the millennial branch of Seymour's own foundation, the "social impact accelerator", Open Hearts.

"Second-generation philanthropy," says Seymour.

In New Zealand, in December, she'll speak at the Bold Steps Conference, initiated by the online "by women for women" collective On Being Bold. A story she thinks she might tell: that time she married her accountant and "had two beautiful children with him" but then he lost all her money and left her "beyond bankrupt".

"There's an upside ... when you're at the bottom of the barrel there is only one way to go and that's back up and when you have two small children and you're a women and you're a mother, you know what you are going to do.


"You can't just lie down and cry and say 'why me?' You have to wipe those tears away and you have to — as Johnny Cash's wife June Carter Cash used to say, 'You have to hunker down and squat and press on.' So that's what I did. I hunkered down and squatted and pressed on and I called up my agent and said, 'Look, I'm bankrupt, homeless, penniless, yada yada, I need work yesterday ...'"

Her agent called the networks. They came back with a movie of the week. The only catch — Seymour had to sign up for a five-year series follow-up. The network was confident, however, that the series wouldn't eventuate, because the lead was a woman, it was a medical show, it was a period piece and it co-starred morality.

"That clearly won't work!" recalls Seymour. "And that was Dr Quinn, so that's how things work around here. When things are bad, and if I do what June Carter Cash says and just get practical and move forward, that's what happens. I'm hoping that's the message I'll pass on to the women I have the privilege of meeting."

Seymour is a mum, a grandmother and multiple iterations of the word "wife".

"Well," she says, "I married my first boyfriend and he found someone else, so that ended very early on, immediately after the Bond film. So we were married for minutes, really."

1973: Jane Seymour as
1973: Jane Seymour as "Bond Girl" Solitaire in Live and Let Die, which also starred Roger Moore. Photograph/supplied

In 1973, Paul McCartney and Wings sang the theme tune for Live and Let Die. Roger Moore was Bond and Seymour was Solitaire — a virginal tarot card reader bedded by Bond, whose post-coital banter was a chipper instruction to "cheer up darling, there has to be a first time for everyone".

There is, says Seymour, a "certain cachet" to being a Bond Girl.

"I'm always being told, 'well, the sexism and all that' — but not really for me. I was not playing a sexy character. I was selected for my virginal qualities rather than my sexy qualities, which is a little troubling since I was still playing a virgin at 40, when I was Dr Quinn.

"But, you know, the sexism thing ... I realised, after doing that film, that running three paces behind a man with a gun while wearing high heels and not many clothes was not necessarily what I wanted to do. So I segued into other kinds of material."

Seymour was born and raised in England. She went to Hollywood off the back of Live and Let Die. Her agent dumped her ("he said going to America was the biggest mistake of my life and he wouldn't represent me if I did") and her first job was helping Olivia Newton-John's sister Rona look after her son. "That's my your-part-of-the-world connection," she says.

1970's Hollywood was the New Hollywood. Audiences were younger and university-educated and the all-powerful studios were losing ground to the clout and innovation of individual directors and producers. A Wikipedia list of the "important and notable figures" of the time includes 56 male movie directors — and just one woman.

"I was exposed to a major, very powerful producer," Seymour says. "It was arranged that I should go to his house and watch a screen test. He was having a screening of a major movie, with a lot of people, and I came there, and there was no one there. Just me."

The producer, who Seymour does not name, tells her he loves her work. He is very excited about having her star in this movie. She is the right person for the job. And now, he says, it is her job. She has to do what she has to do.

"And I said, 'Yes, a great job in the screen test.' And he went, 'No, you know what I
mean ...'"

Seymour first went public with this story late last year. She recounts pushing his hand off her leg, and waiting for a taxi to collect her. She says the producer — who is no longer alive — told her at the time that she would never work again if she talked about the incident.

"You know," she says, "There are a lot of things coming out now. Including what is happening in the church. There are lots of places where power corrupts and I think that's what it's about. It's about people using power over you."

Seymour was born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenburg. Her father's family were Polish Jews, her mother Dutch. During World War II, her mother, who had been working as a nurse in Indonesia, was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp.

"She used to say that in life everyone would have challenges, and that the natural instinct is to close off your heart. If you did that and you didn't share it with anyone and you didn't let go of it, it would eat you alive emotionally and, ultimately, physically.

"But she said if you could accept what has happened — however difficult — open your heart up and be of service and help someone else, then you had a purpose in life. She firmly believed that when you had purpose in life, you could find happiness."

Seymour (who changed her name to something she thought would be easier for the show business world to remember) says three "near-death" experiences have convinced her that her mother's philosophy is correct.

She recounts one particular moment when she went into anaphylactic shock after an antibiotics injection went wrong. "Long story short — the only purpose of this story — is that I realised there are two things you take with you when you die. The love you've shared and the difference you've made."

An arts career could be construed as frivolous "but I don't believe it is if, in the art form you create, you stimulate people's ways of thinking about life and the human experience".
In 1986, Seymour starred in War and Remembrance — a 30-hour miniseries about World War II. She filmed in Auschwitz. The assistant director was Branko Lustig, an Auschwitz survivor who recruited other real-life survivors as extras.

"We had lawyers, we had doctors, we had rabbis. We had all sorts of people who came and gave up their time and re-enacted the horrors they had been through. It was just so incredibly difficult to be in a scene and see someone really lose the plot and realise that this person had actually been there and it was too much for them.

"I think it permanently affected me, but in a life-enhancing way, because I'm very proud to have been part of that process. I'm proud of the message it spread. And that's what I get to do an as actress. I get to play extraordinary people who have had extraordinary lives, and really celebrate the choices within the human condition which is really what life is about."

Seymour says people might know the facts about World War II — but the miniseries gave viewers an emotional context.

"And with Dr Quinn, I think it was the same kind of thing. We had a chance to not show the old old-fashioned, 'Oh, we took over the West and the Indians were our friends.' No. We did terrible things, we tried to annihilate them, we tried to kill them, so here we go — we are culpable, this is what we did. I'm proud of all the issues we dealt with ... everything from poisoning the environment, the choices you make in terms of your faith, or how you deal with sickness or your community or gay rights, or female empowerment. All of the above."

Medicinal marijuana? Morphine addiction? Actually, no. Seymour says she filmed two recent Dr Quinn spoofs (including one where she stars as a Breaking Bad-style drug lord who gets an entire town hooked on opiates) because she thought they were "absolutely hilarious".

1999: Jane Seymour as Dr. Michaela 'Mike' Quinn. Photograph/supplied
1999: Jane Seymour as Dr. Michaela 'Mike' Quinn. Photograph/supplied

She's open to a Dr Quinn reboot. "Literally, they've brought back every show that's ever been except for Dr Quinn. I've been very unlucky, because there are a lot of lawsuits and issues at the moment with CBS, so they're not in the mood to discuss it. And you know, I did a movie with De Niro, which Weinstein produced, and that doesn't appear to be coming out. You know, sometimes you pick the wrong straw at the wrong time."

The War with Grandpa, starring Robert De Niro, is one of six movie projects on Seymour's 2018 acting CV. She's also credited in eight episodes of television's Let's Get Physical. Plot summary: two fitness gurus face off at the National Aerobics Championships.

"I'm not slowing down," she says. "If anything, I'm speeding up and grabbing every opportunity I possibly can."

Like that Playboy pictorial?

"I think I'm quite famous for being one of the only people ever to have been in Playboy twice without being naked. The first time they wanted me to, but I said absolutely not. I pointed out to them that it would be much more interesting and sensual to leave some things to the imagination ..."

Seymour's first appearance in the magazine was 45 years ago. In 1987, she posed for her first official shoot. In the latest images, she's poolside in a drenched slip dress and tousle-haired in a fluffy pink bed jacket.

"I feel an enormous sense of freedom now. I think a lot of people feel that life is over when you're 40, but all I can say is that life is quite fabulous in my later-60s. That's kind of what I was trying to say. In my spirit as a person, I feel very young. Obviously certain parts of your body age, but that's life. That's part of the journey.

"I think a lot of young women are so terrified of not having a wrinkle that they're doing everything they possibly can not to age. I've chosen not to do most of what they're doing. I've found as an actress, it means I work quite a lot because I can actually play my age. I look normal. I look like me still."

Jane Seymour is a special guest at the Bold Steps Conference at Auckland's SkyCity on Thursday, December 6. Other speakers include the Governor-General of New Zealand the Rt Hon. Dame Patsy Reddy; fashion designer Dame Trelise Cooper and 16 other senior business leaders. More information: