Whether you know her as Bond Girl Solitaire ("Live and Let Die"), the pioneering Dr. Michaela Quinn ("Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman"), or the oversexed Kathleen Cleary ("Wedding Crashers"), actress Jane Seymour will most likely leave an impression on you. Seymour, who has a knack for portraying diverse characters with ease, will be starring in the Hallmark Channel TV movie, "Dear Prudence" on Saturday, August 23, in which she plays a talk show host who doles out household advice and works to help solve a murder. Seymour also recently released a line of "open heart" jewelry through Kay Jewelers.
Seymour recently spoke to Beliefnet about her own favorite cleaning hints and her appreciation of Native American culture.
You play such a multi-faceted character in the movie--a talk show host who gives out household advice and tips, and then you help investigate a murder. What was it like playing a character with such diverse talents?
I just thought it was a lot of fun, and I really wanted to make it comedic. So I thought for once I'd play it very English and very, very New Yorker.
She's English, but she's been living in New York forever, she's a real fish out of water. I love this character because she's such an A-type personality that it makes her laughable. She sees a spot, she has a cure. She hears a squeak, there's another cure. And it always comes out of her very fashionable handbag. And she's always completely inappropriately dressed. "I'm being sent to the mountains? Ralph Lauren mountain outfit, here I come."
Did you learn anything from the movie with all of those little household hints?
Oh, yes. I didn't know that shaving foam took stains out of carpets. It makes sense doesn't it? I know from movies that if you get a spot on your clothes and you have to get rid of it quick, baby wipes work perfectly. I did know about hemorrhoid cream, but I don't use it very often, but it does work [on puffy eyes], and lemon on your forehead [to cure a hangover], I thought that was a cool one.
Do you have any of your favorite household tips that maybe weren't in the movie that you use around your own home?
I've always thought tea bags on your eyes or the cold cucumbers are really good. But, as we say in the movie, hemorrhoid cream works even better. One of the biggest problems I always have [in my home] is [with] those white Casablanca lilies and those red stamens—I just love big red stamens.
Of course, when you go to the flower shop, they smartly get rid of [the pollen or lily stamens] for you. But I tend not to, and I always brush into them and they always mess up something I have [on]. The stain is impossible to get out. I discovered that when you brush past something like that accidentally, don't touch it. Get some hairspray and spray [the stain] from about a foot away, where the pollen has landed, wait until it's completely dry, and then brush it right off. Usually, you can get away with minimal stain.
Native American spirituality played a big role in "Dear Prudence," as it did in "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." Do you particularly like to work on story lines that involve Native American culture?
I do like it because it's the original culture of this country. It's a very beautiful belief system. I love the fact that that they care so much about nature. I also totally respect that they're not greedy. They just want what they need and they don't want any more. We could all benefit by taking some of their belief systems and using them in our lives.
I just recently did a documentary about the world's water crisis, and specifically in southwest [part of the U.S.] I was filming in Albuquerque New Mexico on a major reservation. One of the things that was astounding to me was that 40 percent of the people on that reservation, the Four Corners reservation, have no fresh water at all.
Somehow we managed to siphon off their water, siphon off the Colorado and get tons of it to places like Las Vegas where they can have nice water fountains jetting up in the air in the desert to music, and meanwhile, 40 percent of this reservation literally can't get drinking water unless they drive for 10 miles or more and have to pay for it and bring a bucket.
I understand that you don't consider yourself part of an organized religion, but do you consider yourself spiritual?
I definitely believe in a God and in a higher power, and I definitely take from many different religious cultures. I go to church.
What kind of church?
Usually Episcopalian....But, I really I'm very open to many belief systems. I'm not involved in the politics of religion, but I love what the message is.
I've just written a book that's going to come out at the end of the year about living with an open heart. One of the things I always wanted to do, especially after 9/11, was find a way of showing that a lot of different spiritual beliefs, and a lot of different writings speak to the same things, one of which is to live with an open heart, to be able to open your heart and give and receive love, and to find in your heart the possibility of forgiveness.
When I was researching the book, [that idea] is in so many different spiritual writings of so many different belief systems. It's one of the little quiet missions that I do. I came up with this image of the open heart, and my hope is that it becomes a universal image of giving and receiving love that is not specific to any doctrine.
What kinds of spiritual practices do you take your beliefs from?
I read about all of them. I find something beautiful in pretty much all of them. I have friends who are Muslim and they've told me some of what's in the Qur'an—some of it is very beautiful. I think the problem is that with all of these faiths, every one of them, some people have hijacked the faith and turned it into something that I don't believe was ever intended in the first place, which is to say we're right, they're wrong, they die. That's where I have a problem.
If somebody believes that a certain practice will get them to heaven, and then other people believe a different way of doing it, I think it's their choice. But I do find it very sad when somebody believes that another person is a bad person because they don't practice exactly the same way they do. I think it's a very personal thing, basically.
You had had a near-death experience 20 years ago. What happened and how did it change your life?
I had anaphylactic shock. I was given an injection of an antibiotic, and accidentally the man gave it in a vein or an artery rather than in a muscle. I went into shock, which means everything closed down in my body. I left my body. I could see people administering to my body. I was not in it anymore, and I was looking up. A corner of the room, as it were, was my vantage point, and when I looked up I saw a white light. I remembered saying, I'm not ready to die yet. There was so much I want to do with my life and that I would not waste a moment in doing whatever I could do to contribute somehow to the world and to raise my children. There was so much that I wanted to do. And so, I was blessed and given the opportunity to live. Of course, cortisone and adrenaline were very helpful.
It gave me this amazing sense of freedom because, first of all, I know it doesn't hurt when you die.You don't have a panic attack about it, you have a panic attack before, and everyone around you has a panic attack, but, no, you just go to a very serene place.
And really, who we are is not our bodies. It's something outside of our bodies, something that you can't touch or feel.
That's who you are, not your body. [Afterwards] I looked at my body and went, okay, you're a car and you need to be taken care of. So I exercise and I try to maintain it to the best of my ability on the understanding that, ultimately, the warranty will run out. And there's also bad luck in life.
I live life to the fullest every day. I try to make a difference wherever I can. I realize you take nothing with you other than the difference you maybe made in the world and/or the love that you shared with people you interact with.
I think a lot of people are so worried about the future that they close their hearts off, and they're so angry about the past or sad about the past, about it not being their present, that they miss out on what life is. Life is right now, it's in the moment.
Do you have any spiritual practices that you participate in with your family?
We go to church from time to time. My children go to a Christian school. I have a Jewish assistant, and when she has special holidays or something, we practice those in the house with her, or we support her in that.
We raise our children to understand and appreciate all different faiths. If we have the opportunity to go to another faith and see what they do, we encourage it.
That was how I was raised, anyway. My parents raised us to learn about all religions and then choose for ourselves. So I'm raising my children in exactly the same way because I found a lot of my friends—a lot of people I know who were raised strictly in one doctrine—find themselves becoming lapsed, they went against it. I want my children to want it and seek it and live it because it's their choice, because they found it.
Do you have any family traditions?
We dine together every day, and we speak about things—about what's going on in our lives. We do a lot of things as a family. We encourage them in sports. We encourage them in music. We take them to the theater. We talk about what's going on in current events and what's going on in their friends' lives and what's going on in their lives. I think a lot of the things that are spoken about in churches, we just do around the dining room table.
I think that's actually one of the things that I always loved about "Dr. Quinn"—at the end of the day whatever was happening, they all sat around that table and they fleshed it out. There's something to be said for the breaking of bread and the pausing and stopping everything you're doing and really hearing and being, and having a chance to talk about what your experiences of the day have been, and what's going on in the world.
One of your recent roles was in the hit comedy, "Wedding Crashers." As we're at the tail end of wedding season, what's your advice for couples who are preparing to get married?
Make sure that it's celebrating your union rather than becoming such an expensive party that you don't have any money to live on. If you're going to give something to bridesmaids, give them something that they'll always want to keep, like a piece of jewelry or something, rather than weighing them down with a very expensive dress that they really hate. There's something to be said for telling them a color code and just saying, "Pick your own [dress]. This is the color area that I love." I did that with my [wedding].
I think a lot of people get so obsessed with the wedding and the expense of the wedding that they miss out on what the real purpose is. It's not about a production number, it's about a meaningful moment between two people that's witnessed by people that they actually really know and care about.