“It was offered to me through my agent, I read it and thought it was lovely,” says multiple Emmy and Golden Globe winning actress Jane Seymour about accepting the lead role in Michael Budd’s feature film, Ruby’s Choice, written by Paul Mahoney. “I have a connection to the material because my uncle and my ex-husband’s aunt both had dementia and Alzheimer’s, plus I made a movie, [documentary] I’ll Be Me [which she exec produced], with Glen Campbell. Firsthand, on a daily basis, I could see what that disease did to him.
“Ruby’s Choice aims to demystify the diagnosis and the prognosis and the way that people behave and how it affects families… I also found out that it’s the number one killer of women in Australia. The producers are planning to give half of the profits to Alzheimer’s foundations.
“It’s a beautiful script, very accurate to what goes on, but it’s also not a downer. This movie is very uplifting, because it shows that even with dementia, this woman has great value to the family and to her world without necessarily realising the impact that she’s having on all of them.”
Also starring Coco Jack Gillies (Oddball, Mad Max: Fury Road) and Jacqueline McKenzie (Angel Baby, The 4400), Jane Seymour promises that Ruby’s Choice is no Relic, a recently released thematically similar horror film.
“This is a drama, but it’s so realistic. She burns her house down without realising it. The elephant in the room is that she has dementia, but the family don’t recognise it and don’t know what to do about it. And then when they do, they realise that the way the system is set up, it’s very hard to get help, so the family has to change its dynamics. Everybody in the family has issues. Through having her [with them] and her dementia, she ends up solving all their issues.
“It shows you that this woman really has a lot of value, and ultimate she makes her own choices to where she wants to be and what she wants to do with her life. It’s very uplifting and moving.
“I play English in it, by the way,” the British born, LA based actress adds.
Previously travelling to Australia for fundraising events, with a bit of tourism thrown in, this time around Jane Seymour is being thrown into full Australiana, including shooting the film in the historic town of Windsor near the Hawkesbury.
When we speak with the star who has graced our screens since the early ‘70s, in everything from Live and Let Die to Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Wedding Crashers, it is in her final days of quarantine at a Sydney hotel after arriving from her home in Malibu to shoot Ruby’s Choice.
“Today, I’ve put the wig on and put myself into my makeup and hair, and I’ve got all the clothes from production here on my bed, and I am going to be going through all the outfits and videotaping and Zooming.
“We get together once in a while on Zoom,” she continues about the challenges of not being able to rehearse in the flesh. “We spent many, many hours talking about our characters, their background, with the writer, asking him why he came up with that character. And then if we had ideas, we threw them at him. He liked them a lot. Michael put them into the script. It’s been really productive, although I haven’t physically met any of them.
“Well, I saw Michael behind an iron bar. He came to greet me at the airport, which was very nice of him.”
So, how does she think that she is going to look back upon this unique experience of making a film during a pandemic?
“When I arrived, the protocol was so strict and so strained,” she admits. “You kind of felt like you were a prisoner… which you are, basically. People are not being human. They’re being very protocol. And that takes a bit of getting used to, because you’re used to ‘Welcome. How was your journey?’ None of that. It’s like, ‘walk here, you’ll be tested there’. You can’t be anywhere near anyone. You must wear your mask. You have to pick up your own luggage. You have to put it on this blue trolley. Then you have to take it off, put it on the conveyor… It was three and a half hours before I was processed, then taken to a hotel that we were not told what it was or where it was, until we arrived. And then a member of the armed forces took our bags to our room. No key. Put you in your room and said you cannot leave for two weeks. That’s it.
“Some people are literally losing their minds. I mercifully am just grateful to be here because I wanted to make this movie, and I know obviously they’re not letting many foreigners in. I’m preparing for a role, I brought my art with me, so I’ve been able to paint. I’ve discovered Zoom and FaceTime, I have family all over the planet. If I wake up in the middle of the night, there’s always someone to talk to.
“At the end of the day, I’m just so grateful to be here. It’s actually turned out to be a really interesting lifetime experience.
“It’s crazy,” she concludes when we ask her about her career. “Normally with actresses, your career dwindles when you’re 40. Well, mine kind of took off at 40 with Dr. Quinn. And then with Wedding Crashers I suddenly got put into lots of comedy, which I’d never really been given the opportunity to do. And now I’m playing the older women.
“I’m in the middle of a 22-hour miniseries about Saint Francis of Assisi [Glow&Darkness] in which I’m playing Eleanor of Aquitaine, the queen of Spain. That’s pretty amazing. I was doing that until COVID hit. Because Australia is so brilliant with their COVID strategy, I’m able to come and make Ruby’s Choice. I’ve actually been offered another thing here in Australia, which I’m hoping I get to do. A big thing! And then another wonderful one in Ireland that I’m supposed to do early next year. And a movie in Canada. I have personally never been busier, and never had such wonderful material. I’m very grateful.”