When The Kominsky Method returns for a second season Friday on Netflix, there’s a familiar face joining the series — Jane Seymour.
So why didn’t her old pal and series star Michael Douglas recognize her when the two arrived for the first dress rehearsal together? After all, The former “Queen of the Miniseries,” as she was known in the ‘80s, who later starred in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, looks far younger than her 68 years. So much so that the show’s executive producer, Chuck Lorre, hesitated to cast her as the love interest of Douglas’ Kominsky co-star, 81-year-old Alan Arkin.
Seymour told Lorre to grey up her hair and she would look age appropriate. “I can play older and I can play younger,” she said. “As most of us know it’s clever make up and definitely good lighting.”
The grey hair fooled Douglas, who took her for an extra and politely introduced himself on the set. To which Seymour replied, “I think I know that already Michael. It’s me, Jane. You’ve known me for forty years.’”
Turns out the two were once neighbours on the coastal California town of Montecito. “That’s when I felt really empowered to pay Madeline,” says Seymour. “If I fooled Michael Douglas…that’s good.”
It helps, of course, that Seymour just has to take off a wig to look like her not-so-old self. As she said on the phone for this interview, “Mercifully, I’m one of the rare few that haven’t done all the nips and tucks and facial changes. I still look like me, just with a little more life lines.”
Seymour was eager to take on the role because she wanted to play a character her own age. The story is that Madeline and Alda’s super Hollywood agent Norman Newlander had a history.
“We were madly in love,” explains Seymour, “and our lives took us apart.” Norman married someone else; when she died 50 years later, he runs into Madeline at a funeral. A friendly lunch leads to a renewed relationship.
There’s baggage to unpack however, warns Seymour. The story arc becomes about getting past grown children on both sides and other trigger points, while at the same time figuring out what to do with the years you have left.
It is a story Seymour can relate to. Since divorcing fourth husband James Keach in 2015, she has been in a relationship with English producer and director David Green.
“In real life, I found myself, after a 24 year marriage, alone and trying to date which was kind of weird, in my sixties, and randomly met someone who had had the same experiences, who I knew 38 years ago.”
Seymour told Lorre her story, and he wove it all into his Kominsky scripts.
Working with Arkin has been a dream she says. “He’s absolutely phenomenal. He’s so real and authentic. For a man his age he has amazing energy.”
Their two characters are Avid equestrians, something the producers got a little antsy about in Arkin’s case due to insurance considerations. Seymour was asked if she had any reservations about saddling up and told the nervous production team to go watch her six season stint on Dr. Quinn. “I can ride side saddle, western, anything you want.”
Just the same, a stunt rider was hired to double Seymour in some scenes. Incredibly, it was the same woman who rode for her back in the Dr. Quinn days.
As for that romantic historical drama, Seymour says there are plans underway to revive it. Many fans were outraged when it was cancelled by CBC in 1998. The original executive producer Beth Sullivan as well as Seymour’s co-star Joe Lando are both on-board.
“We already know exactly what we’d do,” she says. “I think it would be as good if not better than the original. It really is a question of who would let us do it.”
In the meantime, all ten episodes of the second season of The Kominsky Method are available now for streaming on Netflix. Besides Seymour, Paul Reiner and Douglas’ former feature film foil Kathleen Turner are part of the new season fun.