Even with an Emmy, Golden Globe, and a trophy case full of other awards, Jane Seymour still loves acting. And the 71-year-old is still on her game at the center of Harry Wild. In the Irish Acorn TV series, Seymour plays a retired literature professor who goes into crime-solving following a mugging.
Of course, the respected actress is no stranger to starring in her own show. Who could ever forget her turn as the titular Dr. Michaela “Mike” Quinn on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman for six seasons and two movies? Before she heads to the 61st Monte-Carlo Television Festival, we caught up with Seymour as she reflects on the western drama’s impact and if we’ll ever see the good physician again.
Tell me about your history with the Monte-Carlo TV Festival.
Jane Seymour: I’ve been to the last three, four. I received a Golden Nymph one year. One year, I was president of the jury. One year, at the last second, they put me on stage without warning me. I had to talk about something in French and English. They decided I should host. This year, I’m going to celebrate television and Harry Wild.
What is it about this festival that stands out?
It’s specific to international television. It’s fun because we get to meet the writers, producers and a lot of the actors. You get to meet the creators and talk to them about what they are doing. They might even think you’re useful, perhaps. Monte-Carlo is so beautiful. It’s a lovely few days with fabulous meals, everyone is having fun, dressed to the nines. You never know who you’re going to run into. I am taking my son Kris for the first time. He is coming with his wife, Miso, who is coming from South Korea. They recently got married and are on their way to South Korea for a Korean wedding. He really wants to show her the south of France.
You’ve been part of TV for so long. We’re coming up on almost 30 years since Dr. Quinn first hit the airwaves in 1993. How do you think the show would do today?
I think it would do really well. It’s not dated because it’s dated anyway — [like the Yellowstone spinoff 1883] is dated. All those wonderful westerns that are now coming back. It was ahead of its time. I think it would do better. With the craziness going on in the world, people want to see something that is about the community that is dysfunctional and how they can wrap their heads around everything. From racism, illness, life and death, immigration and different cultures, religions, different beliefs, gay and straight — everything we talk about today is in that show.
Where are we on that reboot?
There is a fabulous script Scott Fishman, TV Insider Beth Sullivan has written. They are still trying to get it made. As a series, we would take it 30 years later. So it would be at the turn of the century, which would make it more interesting where the women’s movement began. We would have that, immigration, intolerance, murder, mayhem and guns, and native people being used and abused, which is sadly going on today. We really had a go at it, but it’s sadly a never-ending cycle that makes it relevant today.
Was there anything about Dr. Quinn’s story that wasn’t explored?
I think Sully [played by Joe Lando] and Michaela have been married a long time at this point. And their daughter is grown up and a doctor. So now I think it’s the relationship of three generations. How does a grandmother, who I am now, deal with a daughter who is following in her footsteps and probably thinks she is outdated? I think you would see the different generations and what is seen as progress and what is seen as tradition and what is seen as experience.
How proud are you of the legacy of the show?
We were replaced by crime. We were taken off the air so men can watch lots and lots of violence and crime. Crime pays. I know. It seems what people want to watch in their spare time. There is something beautiful about Dr. Quinn. It was edgy. It was relevant. It was beautiful and timeless. I think new generations are discovering the old show. It’s an American export that has gone to and still plays in 98 countries. I think it speaks to every culture. That has been my dream — to connect with people of different cultures and belief systems where you want to find synergy. What is old is new and what was new then is old.
What is it like for you to find roles you’re excited about at this stage of your career?
It’s very interesting to me because of the recycling of life. I was known for a long time as the queen of the miniseries. Now, to me, [streaming] is like the miniseries, except now we don’t have commercials, which I’m thrilled about. Plus, we don’t have to worry if we can make it home to watch it because we can watch it anywhere on the planet. I think it’s thrilling that baby boomers have somehow proven to the networks that we are not just still here; we are actually pretty relevant and fun to watch.
Like Harry Wild.
Harry Wild is multi-generational. It’s as much a relationship between her and her son [Charlie, played by Kevin Ryan], because he is the detective that thinks he knows everything and is always right. There is the OCD daughter-in-law [Amy Huberman’s Orla]. Then there is the granddaughter [Rose O’Neill’s Lola], who is dying to be her own person and make her own choices and doesn’t know if she should listen to mom and dad or herself or her grandmother. Harry is very independent. She is 70. She has never been married but had a kid. Suddenly, it’s a whole new career. It’s a whole new life. There is a spring in her step. She falls in and out of relationships and in and out of danger, and at the same time, is very useful because she knows her history and finds random things from books as a teacher.
Harry and her mugger turned “grandson” Fergus (Rohan Nedd) have such a unique dynamic.
What would you think they would have in common? Between the two of them, they are ace detectives. They can really take down their criminal. They are in the tougher side of town where education wasn’t necessarily a priority. Somehow, while they are doing this crime-solving, she is teaching him about the classics. Meanwhile, she is learning about how to find a man who knows a man who can do something that may not be legal but very useful.
Ironic: You talked about Dr. Quinn being replaced by crime, and here you are doing a sort of crime show.
I know. They’ve been calling the show “soft crime” though. I don’t think that’s right. These people are murdering people. Nothing soft about that.
The Monte-Carlo Television Festival runs June 17-21. For more information, visit https://www.tvfestival.com/en.
Harry Wild streams on Acorn TV