Jane Seymour Comes to "Ben and Kate"

By Jamie Ruby

Jane SeymourJane Seymour is probably most known for her starring role in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, but she has many credits to her name. The actress appeared in multiple films, series such as the original Battlestar Galactica, Smallville, and more recently, Castle and Franklin & Bash.

Recently Seymour guest starred on the series Ben and Kate as B.J.'s mother. She talked to the digital media about the role.

FOX Conference Call
Ben and Kate

Jane Seymour

January 7, 2012

2:00 p.m. EST

QUESTION: Could you talk about your character, Wendy, and how she compares to her daughter, BJ?

Jane SeymourJANE SEYMOUR: Well, Wendy, is very competitive with her daughter and she’s always putting her daughter down. She kind of points out things about BJ, like the fact that she has big shoulders and looks like a statue and, of course, BJ, comes right back at her and refers to her mother as a “cat.” BJ sort of thinks her mother looks terrible and basically, her mother doesn’t. Her mother tries to outdo her daughter at every possible occasion.

Her mother has a habit of coming on [to] pretty much anyone that comes around, any guy, including, inadvertently, Buddy, who is seeing BJ who runs the bar and then, of course, Buddy suddenly remembers he’s actually going out with BJ and realizes how awful this is because this is actually her mom. But I don’t mind at all. Wendy thinks nothing of getting involved with BJ’s men. In fact, she’s done this in the past and doesn’t understand why her daughter would find anything wrong with that.

QUESTION: Now, there’s quite a bit of improvisation on the Ben and Kate set. Can you talk about what that experience was like for you?

JANE SEYMOUR: I love improv, but I think what’s great about the show is that it’s so well-written to begin with that when you improv, you’re improv’ing on what they already have going there. We did a bit of improv, quite a bit, but those particular scenes were very well scripted.

QUESTION: Can you talk about how Wendy reacts to the secrets that BJ is keeping from her?

JANE SEYMOUR: She’s not sure. She can never trust or believe in anything that BJ says because BJ keeps saying that she’s engaged to this man or that man or this prince and whatever it is. I think her mother sees right through all of this. But her mother has her own agenda and her mother looks at BJ a little bit like slightly a competitor, but also like, “Oh, dear, poor BJ.” I don’t think her mother rates BJ too much.

QUESTION: Was there anyone in particular that you used as inspiration for Wendy?

JANE SEYMOUR: No. Reading the script and reading the characters that they played, I just thought she was a wonderfully inappropriate mother, really. There’s nothing remotely motherly about her and she’s a bit of a piranha, really. She’ll do whatever suits here. She’s not terribly concerned about BJ at all, really. She’ll go with whatever happens. She’s pretending to be a mother. She’s acting the role.

SCIFI VISION: How did you become involved in this show?

[quote]I don't suppose there are that many people who do straight stuff and comedy, but I've always loved doing comedy.[/quote]
JANE SEYMOUR: They offered it to me. I guess they’d seen my work and they wanted a character to play BJ’s mom and I suppose the fact I’m English probably helped slightly. They offered it to me. Rob Corddry, I did something for him recently. So when he was going to come in and play Buddy, and they mentioned they were going to have someone come and play opposite of him as Wendy, he mentioned my name. Apparently, they said, “Oh, we’ve just hired her.” So that was nice.

And then it turned out that Lucy Punch is a friend of my daughter’s and she also apparently said, “Oh, what about Jane Seymour?” So basically, the producers hired me before everybody put their ten cents in, but it was nice to know that everybody around them was trying to get me the job anyway.

SCIFI VISION: Do you enjoy doing comedy?

JANE SEYMOUR: I love doing comedy; absolutely love it. After Wedding Crashers, people suddenly realized that it’s something I could do. I don’t suppose there are that many people who do straight stuff and comedy, but I’ve always loved doing comedy. I think the older I get, the more chances I’m being given to play more character-kind of characters.

QUESTION: I was wondering what was it like getting to work with Lucy Punch?

JANE SEYMOUR: Oh, she’s fantastic. She’s got this really droll, dry way of talking. I thought she was fantastic. She’s got a very interesting, different comedic way and it was just lovely to play opposite. We could have gone on forever. We could have improv’ed a whole episode easily. We got along very well

QUESTION: Was there anything you learned about doing comedy or about comedic timing from your time on the show?

JANE SEYMOUR: No, I’ve done quite a lot of comedy actually. I think with comedy, it’s got to be real. If it doesn’t come from a real place then it really isn’t funny, doesn’t work. So there has to be a reality to whatever it is you’re doing and it has to make sense to your character. So even if it is the most bizarre behavior on the planet, it’s got to be completely normal to the person, to the character that’s playing it.

QUESTION: Is there a potential for Wendy to return in future episodes, or do you think it’s just going to be this one?

JANE SEYMOUR: No. They did mention when they asked me to do the role that they were considering having me be a recurring character.

Jane SeymourQUESTION: Is that something you’d be open to?

JANE SEYMOUR: Absolutely, yes.

QUESTION: I was wondering if you think you’ll be back to Franklin & Bash again next summer.

JANE SEYMOUR: Funny you should say that. I just got a text just the other day, less than a week ago, from the creator of the show who told me he was pitching a story with me coming back. So I’m going to be a mother of many people.

QUESTION: You have done a lot of roles now, including the role of Wendy, and as you just mentioned as a mother. When you pick roles like Wendy, or accept roles like this, is there anything in the back of your mind that you’re hoping people learn from these roles that you’re taking?

JANE SEYMOUR: Just that I really enjoy doing comedy and that I have quite a range of different kinds of characters that I can play. Especially recently, I’ve got a lot of movies coming out, some of which you haven’t seen yet, in which I play with a short blonde wig and I look like a completely different person. I’m really playing a lot of different characters really. I guess what I’m showing is that I don’t just play myself. I play a lot of different people. That’s called “acting,” I think.

QUESTION: We usually like to ask celebrities what they’re currently watching on TV and what they like to recommend for others.

JANE SEYMOUR: I’m really bad to ask because I’ve been out of the country for a little bit. When I’m here, I’m still raising teenagers and working and traveling a lot. So I haven’t been able to watch something consistently, but when I have time, I like to watch Downton Abbey because my friend Julian Fellowes did that and I think it’s a great show.

What else have I watched? Modern Family I think is very funny. I tend to watch a lot of the news programs. Really, I’ve been watching a lot of academy movies recently because I’m voting for …. So I’m not really good to ask at the moment, and I get a little frustrated when I haven’t seen a series from the beginning and I feel like I’m way behind on it. So,I’m going to have to start catching up online.

QUESTION: So, you’ve been talking a lot about doing comedic roles. Are you still looking to do dramatic roles? How do you decide what type of role that you want to take on?

JANE SEYMOUR: Well, I look at what I’m offered, obviously, and then I look at what’s out there and from time to time audition for various things. I have a movie. I did the American Doll/Girl movie, which I played a grandmother. That is certainly not comedic. That was just a beautiful little movie.

I’m really open to anything. I read a lot of material and I see what I think is the best of what I’m being offered. As you know, at a certain age, there’s a lot less material to look at.

QUESTION: You had mentioned working with Rob Corddry. Could you talk about what it was like working with him on this project?

JANE SEYMOUR: Oh, he’s fantastic; absolutely brilliant and improv with him, of course, is a dream because he’s just a great writer. I particularly loved the scene I did with him I have to admit and I had a lot of fun. It was not a lot, but what it was was very amusing. I’m hoping that if they do bring me back I do get to do some more with him. He has a Web series called Newsreaders. I did something for his show.

SCIFI VISION: You talked about the roles you’re offered, but do you have a dream role still, something that you’d love to be able to if you could?

JANE SEYMOUR: I once answered that question and never got to play that role. So I’m not playing that game again. But I can think of lots of characters and lots of things I’d really love to do. I really feel that I haven’t even touched the surface of what I know I can do. I’m hoping that now that I’m a little bit older that maybe I’ll get some of the really, really cool meaty roles.

SCIFI VISION: Is there anybody that you want to work with that you haven’t yet?

JANE SEYMOUR: Again, I’m very superstitious about all of that, but I am enjoying working with a lot of the young comedy writers. I think that’s very exciting for me. My daughter writes comedy and is an actress. My son watches everything there is on television, my oldest of two kids, and I’m excited that they get excited now by some of the people I’m working with and it’s fun, especially since they’re sort of contemporaries of my kids. So, that’s pretty cool.

QUESTION: You mentioned you were out of the country and by “out of the country” you mean you’re back in England I’m assuming.

JANE SEYMOUR: Oh, yes. I just went for a little holiday.

QUESTION: What’s one thing that you find that you enjoy the most about English culture and one thing you enjoy most about American culture, maybe something you think that we could learn from each other.

JANE SEYMOUR: Well, what I love personally in England is I love the theater and the music and I love the English countryside and I love the history. It’s such an old country and it’s just so amazing to wander around. Things are there from the Roman times. They’re there from before the Druids. I mean everywhere you go, things are just ancient and amazing and preserved and beautiful.

I really like the fact that the fields aren’t straight and the roads aren’t straight and everything is kind of a little wiggly little island. Then you come to America and everything is much more organized. Everything is in grids and you can find your way. It’s such a huge country. You can’t really compare the two.

America is a new country. So you can’t really compare it to an ancient country, but what I love in America is really, it’s a wonderful combination of people from all over the world and so many different heritages and so many different cultures. I feel like it’s a new country. It’s still the land of opportunity; very much so.

QUESTION: You said that after an actress reaches a certain age that the roles that you’re offered change a little bit, or maybe dry up a bit. I was wondering if that’s ever a source of frustration for you.

JANE SEYMOUR: Well, I count myself as being one of the lucky ones that does get offered quite a lot of work. So, I’m not complaining at all. It’s just the nature of the beast. Obviously, you play the age that you are. I’ve been in the sort of in-between age for a while. But now people are quite happy to hire me to play grandmothers as well as mothers of 20-something-year-old, young adults.

MODERATOR: If we don’t have any other questions, Jane, would you mind just telling people the film that you did with Nat Faxon since that is an added connection to Nat?

Jane SeymourJANE SEYMOUR: Yes. I have a movie that Nat stare in called Freeloaders and it’s basically the story of how Adam Duritz from Counting Crows had a house in the Hollywood Hills, based on a true story, and he was so busy on the road that his friends freeloaded off of him. They were all living there and spending his money and enjoying his home, which he never saw for about seven years. They were up to no good. They were partying. It was the party house apparently in Hollywood. I’ve heard from people who actually went to it and they said it was just like in the movie. It was completely insane. It was a crazy place.

I played the character of a Beverly Hills real estate agent who Adam hires to come in and sell the house. Of course, the freeloaders are not happy to leave and they do everything in their power to stop the sale of the house. So, it’s a comedy. The … were involved with this particular movie and it’s pretty funny. So, that’s premiering tonight and then I think I’ll be on pay-per-view and wherever, in a few theaters.

And then, I’m on a thing called I Get that A Lot if anyone’s remotely interested. It’s very funny. It’s like a reality spoof thing where I’m pretending to be someone who works for Cost Plus and these people, regular normal people think I’m Jane Seymour and I manage to convince them that I’m not. That’s on Wednesday night I think.

Then I’ve got a movie coming out sometime in April. I don’t have a date on it, but it’s worth looking out for. It’s called Lovestruck and it’s a musical in which I sing and dance to a Lady Gaga number and play a choreographer. It’s a terrific musical with Chelsea Kane and Sara Paxton. And then after that, the other show I did which I think will come out in July, I play a grandmother in the American Girl/Doll movie, the new one.

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