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Jane Seymour to play “cougar” socialite in The Vortex

Former screen siren drawn to Noel Coward play because of modern society's obsession with youth.

When she smiled, every schoolboy’s heart was set aflutter. Courting and married men felt a pang of guilt when they watched her on the big screen or gogglebox with their women. Winsome, elegant, sensual, Jane Seymour could be any or all at the same time.

She first entered male fantasy as the Bond girl, Solitaire, in Live and Let Die. Forty-three years on, the quintessential English Rose with her trademark tresses has not lost any of the pull that had men worshipping at her feet. In a time when mature women the likes of Susan Sarandon and Sam Taylor-Johnson have flaunted, or are married to, men decades younger, Seymour explores this very theme in Asia’s premier of Noel Coward’s The Vortex, on at Jubilee Hall next month. She plays 1920s London socialite Florence Lancaster, who takes on a lover the same age as her son. Her affair shakes the foundations of her son’s world when he discovers her trysts.

But this is just the make-believe universe of the stage, and The Peak shoots the obvious question: So, why not? She fires a broadside: “It’s not for me. I have friends who have younger lovers, but I find a relationship with someone mature, who has been through some of the circumstances I have, is more important.

“Someone who has also been a parent and has been involved with children. Someone who understands my industry and who appreciates me for me, rather than someone young. Plus I have children in their 30s. It would be difficult to date someone the same age as them.”

Seymour, 64, has four children. Two with husband No. 4 James Keach, whom she divorced last December, and two with husband No. 3 David Flynn. So what moved the English siren to play Lancaster?

“I took on the role because the urge to stay young is very much today’s message. Women will do anything to stay young, as will men. When you feel young inside, but your body is ageing, you try to be the best you  can, for as long as you can.” And dating someone younger is a sure injection of vitality. “But, at the same time, the play also shows the havoc and sadness that her affair has brought to her son. A son whom she really hasn’t been there for and who has a lot of needs – to be heard, to be loved and to have his mother’s attention. “I think it’s a terrific play, although of course it’s much more pertinent to the 1920s. But she’s ahead of her time and I think it makes us all question the ways that we approach ageing and raising our children.”

Despite her age, she has managed to stay trim and attractive, but there’s no big secret, says Seymour. She says: “I’m a great believer in ageing naturally. I eat sensibly and exercise moderately. I didn’t want to change my look. “I’ve always managed to maintain a similar physique, no crash diets and no crazy regimens. I use good skincare, which is not expensive, and I protect myself from the sun and I wear a hat when outdoors. “Mostly, I believe that looking good at your age comes from within and being happy in your own skin.”

The Vortex is on at Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel, April 27 to May 14.