In its first season in 2018, Netflix’s THE KOMINSKY METHOD won Golden Globes and was nominated for Emmys for the performances of Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin. In the series created by Chuck Lorre, Douglas plays actor-turned-revered-acting teacher Sandy Kominsky; Arkin plays Sandy’s agent and best friend Norman Newlander.
Now THE KOMINSKY METHOD is back for a second season; all episodes are now streaming on Netflix. One of the additions to Season 2 is Jane Seymour as Norman’s love interest Madelyn.
Seymour is still famed and beloved for her six seasons as the title character in DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN. The English actress has also played many romantic roles in her long career, starting with Bond girl Domino in LIVE AND LET DIE and the heroine in the fantasy SOMEWHERE IN TIME. However, Seymour says, speaking by phone, the character of Madelyn is a first for her in many respects.
ASSIGNMENT X: Had you worked with Chuck Lorre and/or Michael Douglas before THE KOMINSKY METHOD?
JANE SEYMOUR: No, neither. I knew Michael Douglas socially back in the day, a long time ago. It was quite funny, because when I ended up on the set on the first day of shooting, and we were doing rehearsals, Michael introduced himself to me, and said, “Hello, I’m Michael.” And I went, “Michael, it’s Jane. You’ve only known me for forty years or more.” [laughs] He had not recognized me as the character at all. But I’ve been a huge fan of Chuck Lorre’s, so when I was asked to meet with him, it was very interesting. I’ve never gotten a job this way, where you agent says, “Chuck Lorre would like to meet you,” and you spend an hour or so without having read any scripts or anything at all. I of course had seen the original THE KOMINSKY METHOD, which I loved, and he was trying to decide what I should play. He was trying to decide between Michael Douglas’s ex-wife and Alan Arkin’s ex-girlfriend, who has now become his love interest.
AX: Did you express a preference to Chuck Lorre about which character you’d like to be paired with?
SEYMOUR: Actually, my initial thought was that I probably should be playing with Michael Douglas, but I left it up to him to decide. I said I’d be happy either way. And I’m really, really glad that I [wound up opposite Arkin, because the Michael Douglas ex-wife character [played by Kathleen Turner] has one scene, and I’m in the whole thing, so that worked out very well [laughs]. Chuck kept looking at me, saying, “I don’t know that you can play old enough to play that character.” And I said, “Oh, trust me, with a gray wig, I’m right there.” So that’s what we did. The way Chuck works is, he doesn’t have an arc to the story, so you don’t know where the story is going to go until the next script comes out. Literally, no one knows. Apparently, even he doesn’t know [laughs]. So I came in to do two episodes, and I ended up in five of them, which was fantastic.
AX: So Madelyn, your character in THE KOMINSKY METHOD, was actually written for you?
SEYMOUR: I suppose it was. It was going in one direction, and then I think Chuck loved the chemistry between Alan and I, and it really did work so well, and it was so funny, and so poignant, and there were just so many great things we could do with it. So he gave me some great, great scenes to play, which was lovely.
AX: THE KOMINSKY METHOD is sometimes very emotional and sometimes very comedic. Does Madelyn skew one way or the other, or are you right on the borderline there?
SEYMOUR: I’m right there with everybody else. The way that it is shot, and it’s written, I actually believe that that’s the way comedy should be. It has to be grounded in serious realism, otherwise, it doesn’t work. So it’s seriously funny [laughs], how about that? It’s funny on very serious issues, which makes it funny.
AX: Even with a gray wig, are you still playing a little younger than Alan Arkin?
SEYMOUR: Not much, but yes. I mean, I’m supposed to be a contemporary of his, or within a few years. It actually really works. We do look like a couple. And there was a connection that we got when we first started working together that worked so well, and Alan apparently loved working with me, and they’re very happy to make Alan happy, so it worked out for everybody. It was really fun. I love Lisa Edelstein, who plays his daughter. I got to do some fun things with her, too. She’s really terrific.
AX: It says on your IMDB page that you have Eastern European Jewry on your father’s side of the family. Did working on THE KOMINSKY METHOD bring out the alta kocker side of your personality?
SEYMOUR: [laughs] You know, it’s always there somewhere, but I was never raised Jewish, not remotely. My mother was Dutch Protestant. It wasn’t until I did WAR AND REMEMBRANCE [a miniseries about WWII], and I was asking my father how to bless the candles and singing and doing stuff in Yiddish that I actually realized that my father had never been bar mitzvahed. But it was never really a strong part of my life. I mean, I love all that humor, I love that whole thing, and I do kind of have a combination of that culture, and of course the British culture, and they chose to have me play British.
AX: Besides having the role sort of tailored to you, do you have input into Madelyn? I mean, just suggestions like, “What if I say this instead of that?”
SEYMOUR: You know what? When I first started working on it, and I sat with Chuck, and I said, “Well, what happens next? What’s happening to my character? Tell me.” And I realized that you just don’t do that [laughs]. You quietly wait ‘til the next script comes out. And if you’re in it, that’s great, and if you’re not, you’re just not. And I was very wonderfully, pleasantly surprised by the material that I was given, and very thrilled. And having watched the whole series [season] now, I think it’s even better than the original, and everyone who’s seen it has said, “Oh, my God. It’s even better.” So I’m very thrilled with what they did. I think it’s incredibly funny, and incredibly poignant. If I wasn’t in it, this would be one of my favorite shows to watch right now.
AX: Does it feel like you’re sort of revisiting some of the roles you played in the ‘70s and ‘80s, where you were the romantic ideal?
SEYMOUR: Oh, no. This is nothing like anything I’ve ever done. This is a woman who’s had a life, and lost a husband, and has a lot of baggage, and is revisiting a romance she had fifty years ago, with a man who’s also got a lot of baggage and had tragedies and all kinds of stuff happen in his life, and an enormous amount of baggage. I personally think those characters, when people get older, that’s when it gets even more interesting, because you’ve got so many more layers to play, and so many back stories, and so many things that have happened. Personally, I’m very interested in those kinds of characters, so I’m very excited to be playing this. It’s really great. I’ve played a lot of kind of cougar-y characters, but this is quite different.
AX: Can you talk about any of Madelyn’s baggage?
SEYMOUR: Yes. They were in love a long time ago, and then circumstances happened that he married somebody else, and I think they moved away from one another and haven’t seen each other in all that time. But he had a wife who then died of cancer, and he’s been grieving an enormous amount, and just can’t get the ex-wife out of his system. She’s constantly right there, next to him, all the time. And Madelyn, we realize, had a husband that had a lot of anger issues. And so she just cannot handle anger and fighting of any kind. It’s a no-no for her, and she’s at a time in her life where she just says, “Look, I’m just not doing this. I went there, I did it, I walked on eggshells, I worried every day of my life about upsetting people, and what could happen, and what could be said, and what could go wrong, and at this time in my life, I’m just not going there anymore.” So she’s actually a very interesting character.
AX: So she is fairly self-aware?
SEYMOUR: Oh, yes. But she’s also kind of finding herself falling in love with someone that she knew a long time ago. So it’s an interesting relationship, two people who’ve already had long marriages, and children, and a life, and loss, and they find one another.
AX: Did you know Alan Arkin at all before working with him on THE KOMINSKY METHOD?
SEYMOUR: No. Well, obviously, his work, but no, I never met him.
AX: How is he as a scene partner?
SEYMOUR: He was great. He could read the telephone directory, and he’d be fascinating [laughs]. He’s mesmerizing, he’s just an amazing actor, and his delivery is typical Arkin. He’s enormously good fun to work with.
AX: Do you see any similarities between him and Chuck Lorre?
AX: I thought it seemed like Chuck Lorre was perhaps putting a lot of himself into Norman …
SEYMOUR: I think he probably puts [himself] into both characters, really. I don’t know. I don’t know Chuck well enough to know that. But I do believe that this series, he puts a lot of himself into, absolutely. He does with all his series.
AX: Are you finding that any of your feelings about anything are written into Madelyn? Not that you gave input, but that they’re showing up there for you to play?
SEYMOUR: Well, always. Every role I ever take on, I can usually find something, somewhere in my life or my experience or my relationships, that relate in some way. I have a partner right now, David Green, who, we were not romantically involved ever way back in the day, but we did know each other thirty-eight years ago. And then his twenty-four-year marriage ended, and so did mine, and then we randomly met one another, and realized we had an enormous amount in common, and our lives had been living parallel. So we’ve been together now about five or six years. So I suppose I do have that in common [with the character].
AX: Besides acting, you are also a producer. Are you producing anything now?
SEYMOUR: Yes, I’ve got a movie called HIGH STRUNG FREE DANCE [which opened theatrically in October], which I exec-produced, with Michael Damian directing. It’s a great dance movie, and I used to be a dancer, so I particularly love it. I’m in it. I play a dance teacher who’s the mother of the lead, [played by] Juliet Doherty. And there’s a show that I did called FRIENDSGIVING, and I’m waiting to see when that’s coming out, with Malin Akerman and Kat Dennings. And then I’m involved in two movies that we’re waiting on the final funding on, so I can’t really announce them yet, but both of them, I’m involved in terms of producing and definitely acting in. My daughter [Katie Flynn] just did a short which she submitted for film festivals which I worked behind the scenes on and exec-produced and am very proud of, it’s turned out to be fantastic. So that’s what I’m doing.
AX: Is there any difference in working for Netflix and working for an on-air network?
SEYMOUR: From what I gather, Netflix leaves the creator alone and just says, “Hey, do it.” Whereas when you’re in a network show, at least when I was, the network is on top of every single movement, every moment, every script, every choice in casting. Working with Chuck Lorre, I think everyone trusts him, and they know that as different as maybe some of his choices are, they all work, because he’s got such a great track record.
AX: So he probably would not have as much interference in any case?
SEYMOUR: I don’t think so, no.
AX: And is there anything else you’d like to say about your work on THE KOMINSKY METHOD?
SEYMOUR: Just that I’ve seen the whole [Season 2] – they let me see it ahead of time – and I thought the first season was must-see television; I think this even better. I think Chuck’s taken it to an even greater place, and I would recommend it for all ages, because it’s also very much about young people. And if anyone’s remotely interested in the behind-the-scenes of an acting workshop, it’s interesting. But especially for people my age, I think it’s fascinating to see two old men dealing with health and romantic issues, and the baggage they carry.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview: Jane Seymour chats about Season 2 of the Netflix series