Jane Seymour on aging, 'Playboy' and love: 'I'm honestly grabbing life by the horns'

Unapologetically is a Yahoo Life series in which women and men from all walks of life get the chance to share how they live their best life — out loud and in living color, without fear or regret — looking back at the past with a smile and embracing the future with excited anticipation.

From Bond girl Solitaire to Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Jane Seymour has cultivated a devoted fanbase that continues to follow her every move. These days, the 71-year-old English actress and author can be found solving crimes on Harry Wild — now streaming on Acorn TV — and essentially living her best life on Instagram, where she documents her travels, her thoughts and, yes, her workouts.

On-screen and off, Seymour is determined to show that "being older doesn't mean you quit and it doesn't mean that you don't exist," which explains why she's gravitated to "out there" roles like Harry Wild's titular retired, rule-breaking English professor and B Positive's vivacious Bette. Like those characters, she pushes back against conventional notions about aging.

"I don't feel any different, really, than when I was 40 or 50," she tells Yahoo Life, adding with a laugh, "Am I younger in spirit than I am in age? Probably — until I, you know, run and jump and suddenly realize that I don't land quite as well as I did before."

Like her characters, Seymour has also learned to weather life's changes — in her case, that includes four divorces.

"Every time I've gotten divorced, I have had to develop a new lust for life," the mother of four says. "I've had to figure out a way that I find myself again, because I'd find myself embedded in a relationship that maybe didn't work, or circumstances were ... impossible to repair. And I've had to pick myself up and just say, 'OK, Jane, what are you gonna do now?' And every time that's happened, I've kind of put it out there in the universe."

Actress Jane Seymour gets candid about love, aging and feeling
Actress Jane Seymour gets candid about love, aging and feeling "comfortable in my skin." (Photo: Getty)

The universe has responded, she says. It was on the heels of her divorce from third husband David Flynn that she was "literally handed the role of Dr. Quinn," the Old West physician lead of CBS's Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. The show ran for six seasons and resulted in Seymour winning a Golden Globe in addition to multiple Emmy nominations.

Seymour has also learned to accept and be unapologetic about her romantic history.

"I'm always labeled [by it]," she says. "'Oh, you've had so many divorces' — like I've failed or something, but I don’t feel I have. I created some wonderful children and I'm still very close to the people who loved me, and I love them and we still love each other."

For the past several years Seymour has been happily unmarried — "I don't think in this day and age you need it," she says of another trip down the aisle — to longtime partner David Green, a director and producer. She says their romance happened "totally by accident," reconnecting through a mutual friend some 30 or so years after the pair once discussed an acting project that never got off the ground. Like her, Green has gone through marriage and divorce and children.

"We just sort of looked at one another and went, 'Well, we're in the same boat,'" she says. "I would say there are different times in your life where you look for different things. When you're 30 you may be looking for somebody to be a life partner to have children with. And then, you know, if sadly you've been divorced and you're raising your kids, you're now looking for someone who can handle a woman who has kids. And in my case, can I find somebody who's going to be understanding of my love of my career, of loving to act? You know, I might be in Australia next week."

Seymour and partner David Green in 2020. (Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Netflix)
Seymour and partner David Green in 2020. (Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Netflix)

The Wedding Crashers star also opened up becoming the oldest woman to pose for Playboy, making her third appearance in the magazine, at age 67, in 2018.

"The first time was a Bond girl, so they just took a still from somewhere and put that up, so I didn't pose for them," the Live and Let Die star shares. "The second time I wanted to prove that I could be clothed and be as sexy as anyone that wasn't, so I was not naked in that Playboy at all. And this last time I wasn't naked, either. In fact, I had more clothes on than when I go in the swimming pool with my kids and my grandchildren."

Though she's bemused by the reaction to her shoot, the Open Hearts Foundation founder is proud to have given mature women more representation in the magazine.

"I don't know why everyone got terribly excited about it, but I got excited when I thought, Well ... what does this say? This says that I am still a woman and that I'm comfortable in my skin, and I own myself. And why not?" she notes. "You know, maybe there are a lot of women out there who are giving up and just going, Oh, well, you know, I'm middle aged and I should cut my hair off and be invisible. Well, I'm saying if you don't want to be invisible and you want to continue feeling lively and have fun and feel kind of sensual, sexy or whatever, there's nothing wrong with it."

Her latest Playboy interview also saw Seymour opening up about the sexual harassment she faced as a young actress.

"Looking around the people that I came up with, I think I'm the only one that actually said no, and then quit acting for a year, because it wasn't comfortable for me," she says of the "frightening" experience. "It was not a bargaining tool; I wanted to be an actress for my acting chops and for nothing else."

Though she of course eventually returned to acting — "my then-boyfriend said, 'Come on, this is ridiculous. You've baked enough bread, done enough for embroidery'" she recalls of her break from stage and screen — she's "very proud" of herself for taking a stand.

Looking back on an acting career that's included an Emmy-winning turn as opera legend Maria Callas to being part of the "sorority" of Bond girls, Seymour says she feels "much freer" as a person these days. That's in large part thanks to her life outside acting, which includes writing books, painting and fashion design, giving back through the Open Hearts Foundation, traveling and what she calls "experiential living" with her loved ones.

"I can do whatever I want," she says. "I saved some money, so I'm comfortable. I work because I want to. I can pick the projects that I want to. I do not suffer fools gladly, so I have curated my life and the amount of time I have to be with friends and family and people I'm interested in. I love to learn new things. I like to grow as a human being. I like to be around interesting people from different walks of life. I like to travel a lot. And I've had the experience — I've got a ... wealth of experience that most people never have in their lifetime. And I'm looking at that and going, Wow, how fortunate am I? And what can I do with this?"

She adds with a smile, "I'm honestly grabbing life by the horns."

—Video produced by Stacy Jackman.

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