"Beyond fantasy. Beyond obsession. Beyond time itself...he will find her."

Read an Interview with Jane about a movie that's made international fame!

Jane Seymour Reaches Back Somewhere in Time

British beauty Jane Seymour was already well known to American audiences when she was cast by director Jeannot Szwarc to play the female lead in Somewhere in Time (1980), a haunting romantic fantasy about the timelessness of true love. The role of Elise McKenna, a turn-of-the-century actress for whom modern-day playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) travels backward in time, remains Seymour's favorite. This charming and articulate actress, whose three-decades career includes roles in the films Live and Let Die, Lassiter, and Keys to Freedom, as well as such TV miniseries as East of Eden and War and Remembrance, recently wrapped up a lengthy TV stint as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Seymour reminisced about her involvement with Somewhere in Time, now available as a special 2Oth Anniversary Edition DVD.

Barnes&Noble.com: How was Somewhere in Time brought to your attention?

Jane Seymour: In a way that's never happened to me before or since. I was attending a party at the home of [veteran producer] Ray Stark, where he was entertaining a member of the British royal family. At one point during the evening, he took me aside and said, "I'd like to set up a meeting with you. We're working on a picture you might be just right for." As it happened, Jeannot Szwarc was at the same party, and I got to meet him as well. Those encounters started a whirlwind of phone calls and meetings.

B&N.com: What was your initial reaction to the script?

JS: Oh, it got me straight away. I cried my eyes out while reading it. In fact, I felt as though it could have been written just for me. I thought it was a perfect piece.

B&N.com: In what way?

JS: Well, I'm a romantic at heart. At that time I felt that I hadn't found true love, and I wondered when, and how, and if I would. Richard Matheson's script made the point that falling in love doesn't always happen when or where you expect, but that it does happen. The concept of finding love in another time, in another life, was very comforting to me.

B&N.com: So you wanted the part badly?

JS: Oh, yes, I wanted it more than anything. I remember praying, "Even if I never do another movie, please let me do this one." Then, of course, after several meetings with the producer and director, I finally met Christopher [Reeve]. There was chemistry between us that was noticeable from the start, so I was signed to do the film.

B&N.com: What are your dominant memories of the film's production?

JS: Well, to begin with, everybody was totally committed to making a beautiful movie. This wasn't just another job to us. Everybody involved with the production said, "We have to do this right." And then, of course, we were on location in that magical place [Mackinac Island], with practically no modern conveniences, and it cast quite a little spell over us. It's so much easier to do a romantic film when you're working in such a romantic place.

B&N.com: How did you and Christopher prepare for your roles?

JS: I didn't have to prepare all that much. I felt very strongly about the character and the script, so it didn't require intensive work on my part. At that time, though, Christopher was working with an acting coach very much steeped in "method" tradition. Since his character was supposed to be a playwright, the coach advised Christopher to begin writing. He was on location before me, and he spent every night writing -- notes in his script, journal entries, things like that. When I arrived, we got together and I saw these pages and pages of notes. He told me about the advice his coach had given him. And then I asked, "But, Chris, in the script your character has writer's block, doesn't he?" Well, he got this funny look on his face; kind of startled, you know? "You're absolutely right," he said. "Let's go have dinner." And that was the end of the writing.

B&N.com: How emotionally involved did you get while playing those romantic scenes?

JS: I have a funny story about that. You know, there's one scene in this picture everybody remembers, in which I'm on stage telling Chris how much I love him. Well, the shooting of that sequence took a couple of days, and on the day we were scheduled to shoot Christopher's close-ups -- which would show him reacting to my big speech -- he got tied up somehow and couldn't make it to the set. In order to stay on schedule, Jeannot had me play the scene while looking at the scriptwriter, Richard Matheson, who stood in for Christopher. So off we went, and I spent the afternoon professing my love to Richard. Now, as you know, that's a very moving scene, and later Richard told me that he was quite unnerved by the experience. He called his wife that night to reassure her that he loved her, and flew home the next day!

B&N.com: Your scenes with Christopher Reeve were very effective. They still are.

JS: You couldn't pull off a film like this without chemistry and, at that point in our lives, Christopher and I were perfect for our roles. I felt so then and I still do. I'd love to work with him again. We still have that chemistry.

B&N.com: Once shooting had wrapped, was everyone optimistic about the film?

JS: Very much so. And people remained committed to it. You know, from the beginning they wanted John Barry to do the musical score, but for one reason or another couldn't pay his fee. Well, after seeing the film, John volunteered to write the score without being paid up front. He was paid out of the back end. That's how excited everyone was about being a part of the project.

B&N.com: The film was very successful in its original theatrical engagements, wasn't it?

JS: Oh, yes! And not just here in the States. It was a huge success internationally as well. I understand it played in Hong Kong, of all places, for over a year! And then, of course, its life has been extended with TV and video. I'm delighted that it's finally available on DVD.

B&N.com: Somewhere in Time has acquired something of a cult following in the years since it was first released. Does this surprise you?

JS: It certainly is remarkable. I know that people watch it over and over. I've been told by many fans that they regard it as a barometer of sorts. In other words, it was a movie to see with their dates, to gauge how emotionally attuned they might be to each other! I have a daughter in college now, and she says some of her fellow students have told her that Somewhere in Time is their favorite film. That's really quite gratifying.

B&N.com: Why do you suppose the film continues to entrance viewers?

JS: Well, we're all looking for true love, and we want to believe that there's a purpose to life. In our increasingly discordant society, there seems to be precious little to believe in. So the message of Somewhere in Time strikes a chord -- especially with young people. It's very comforting to believe that love transcends time and place. I certainly believe that, which is one of the reasons I'm so proud to have been a part of this film.

Copyright Barnes & Noble Online - October 30, 2000