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Ms. Seymour, renaissance woman

Crowned ``queen of the miniseries" in the 1980s, actress Jane Seymour now reigns over the domain where style (fashion, furnishings, accessories) and the arts (visual, performing, literary) meet.

Best known for her roles in ``War and Remembrance" and ``Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," the 55-year-old, British-born Seymour has expanded her portfolio to include comedic film roles, movie production, painting, book writing, home design, public speaking, and philanthropy.

Seymour visited Boston last week on behalf of Eons, a new media company targeting over-50 baby boomers. This week marks the re-launch of her Jane Seymour Home Collection, a line of home furnishings, textiles, and accessories originally developed for Saks. The revamped line consists of four themed styles: Coral Canyon, based on Seymour's Malibu, Calif., home; St. Catherine's Court and Winding Way, reflecting the decor of her 14th-century manor house in England; and Mackinac Island, which borrows its look from the Michigan resort where her 1980 film ``Somewhere In Time" was shot. Debuting at the New York Textile Market , the collection features four bed ensembles with coordinated decorative accessories: pillows, comforters, window treatments, sheets, lamps, candlesticks, and more. The line is scheduled to reach stores by November.

Meanwhile, wearable-art handbags adapted from Seymour's watercolors and oil paintings are already for sale, along with a new line of personalized skin-care products marketed in England. Coming soon: a book (her seventh) about home decorating and lifestyle tips; a TV series titled ``Modern Men"; and ``Blind Dating," a film starring Seymour and co-produced by her husband, actor-director James Keach . We caught up with her at Eons' offices in Charlestown.

Where is your life based these days?</p>

Mostly on frequent-flier miles. (laughs) Actually, we live in Malibu, with vacations spent at our home in England, where we've done the impossible. Every floorboard, stone floor, and piece of roof was removed, numbered, and put back, leaving no visible evidence of the 21st century. It's all there, though, from Internet access to under-floor heating.

You've been outspoken about aging and ageism in Hollywood. Why?</p>

I find it interesting that 16-year-olds are having plastic surgery. People in their 40s used to think, ``I'm aging, I have to do something about it." Now children are deciding they don't like the way they look. Me, I'm feeling younger now than I did when I was younger. I'm not thinking I need to have a plastic face or else I can't go out in the world.

Have you personally encountered age discrimination?

``Dr. Quinn" came along when I turned 40, so my career actually peaked then. But I'm an anomaly. Now that I've experienced ageism, I don't regard it as a bad thing. It's been a transition to something more exciting and maybe edgier.

You say anomaly. Is age discrimination something you discuss with your acting peers?

Sometimes. A lot of actresses I've worked with recently have done so much Botox their faces don't look real anymore. If you freeze everything on your face, you can't emote.

What changed when you reached your 50 s?

I started auditioning for parts, which I hadn't done since I was 17. When I read the ``Wedding Crashers" script, I was convinced the entire ``Dr. Quinn" fan base would commit hari-kiri if I took the part. Fortunately, everyone discovered I was funny, which is one way I deal with aging: Have a sense of humor.

You've likewise been candid about low moments in your life, from lack of work to marital infidelity, divorce, financial hardships, losing close friends like Christopher Reeve, even a near-death experience you survived. Why share these things publicly?

Because out of many terrible things that happened, instead of falling into major depression or bankruptcy I wound up with the greatest gifts in my life. The ability to paint. The opportunity to speak about things that matter to me, like global health issues and child-abuse prevention. A sense of freedom as an actress I've never had before.

When you appear before college-aged crowds, are they familiar with the ``Bond girl" Jane or ``Dr. Quinn" Jane?

Oh, they know who I am. I'm Kittycat (feline growl). Seriously, most of them either grew up with ``Dr. Quinn" or, more likely, saw me in ``Wedding Crashers." They also know I have four grown children, so I've been there and done that.

Any goals that did not make your Top 10 list?

One is to have my own wine. We're working on that, though. My husband planted grape vines at our house in England.

It's hard to imagine your life being much fuller than it is now, anyway.

The older I get, the more things I'm doing that have nothing to do with acting and more with my other passions, like art and decorating. I do about 12 one-woman art shows a year now, and I probably make more money as an artist than I do as an actress. If I get offered a movie, it has to be really good. I don't need to do it to earn a living, and I don't think I need to do it to prove myself as an actress.

Have you always had a bit of Martha Stewart in you?

(laughs) Well, Martha cooks, and becoming a gourmet cook is also on my Top 10 list. But to answer your question: I'm an artist. I'm in my studio every day. I love to play with color and texture. I've always decorated my own homes, even with garage-sale items. Ever since I can remember, I've been making my own clothes, embroidering, knitting, crocheting, and putting rooms together. So for me, this is a lifelong dream come true. It's not suddenly putting my name on a brand.

Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at

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