Jane Seymour Is Enjoying The Laughs In Her New Roles

Sometimes in Hollywood, a single surprising cameo or a small and unusual part is all it takes to get the public to see you in a new light, and a whole new career is born. Since Jane Seymour played the boldly exposed and ravenous cougar in Wedding Crashers, the parts in the scripts coming over her transom have taken an entirely different tone. This month, the onetime Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman staple and Dancing With the Stars contestant debuts a new persona in Hallmark Channel‘s original film, Dear Prudence.

When overworked TV household hint expert Prudence McCoy (Seymour) is forced to go on vacation in Wyoming, she inadvertently stumbles on a murder. When the local authorities refuse to listen to her investigative theories, she decides to take the law into her own hands the only way she knows how: using her patented PruPointers — her everyday hints that anyone might find useful.

If it sounds funny, it should. This isn’t a typical Hallmark Channel murder mystery, but one that’s played up in part for laughs. “I’ve done a lot of comedy recently,” Seymour explains. “Ever since Wedding Crashers.” In addition to the witty rapport Prudence has with her sidekick, Nigel, Seymour says that she’s also a bit of a cartoon. “She has a bag on her at all times that has the solution to every problem. So whenever she sees anything, everything she could possibly ever need is carried in this bag. And she drives everyone crazy, coming up with solutions to things.”

The Jane Seymour most of us have come to know is changing, and she couldn’t be happier about it. “I like it a lot, and it’s working really well. I want this to be a completely different character, obviously, from Dr. Quinn, or from anything else I’ve done,” she says. One surprising change in particular — she’s cut her trademark long hair and dyed it red. “I felt that Prudence should have more of a television personality look, a professional television look and not my classic hair, so I went for a whole new look, for this one.”

As she wrapped filming on Dear Prudence, Seymour had a number of other non-acting projects in the works, which she says she pursues with no less ardor than her screen work. “I really enjoy the variety of things I get to do,” she says. “I love painting. Love it. I do more than a dozen one-woman art shows a year, so I do a lot of being very creative — a lot of paintings, and sculpting as well.”

And as will happen when people work creatively in many disciplines, her passions often inform and feed one another, as happened when one of her paintings inspired her in the direction of design. “I came up with an image when I was painting and it turned into a piece of jewelry that I wore on Dancing With the Stars, and from that it has now become a line of jewelry,” she explains.

But Seymour’s obsessions aren’t limited to the aesthetic. She also takes pride in her work for social and environmental causes. Recently, she finished work on a film [Running Dry] that probes the growing concern for the world’s water resources. “The reason I did this documentary is that the wars of the future — and already starting now — will not be over oil. They’re over water,” she explains. “Because we can live without oil. But we can never live without water.”

Filming put her in contact with the president of the Navajo Nation, where she documented his people’s developing plight. “Forty percent of the people who live on the Navajo Nation Four Corners Reservation have absolutely no water — no drinking water whatsoever. Nothing,” she says with disgust. “And I think it’s just criminal, really, that this should happen in this day and age, in our country.”

Seymour’s commitment to this particular issue not only involved her creative work on the documentary, but also saw her making a push at the legislative level. “I helped get a bill passed in congress, the Water for the Poor Act,” she offers. “That was Paul Simon’s — he died; his widow was trying to make this happen and we got that passed.”

Fusing her creative and social interests is a habit of Seymour’s — something she does reflexively, as she did in the case of this documentary as well as in more simple things, like the jewelry she designs (“It’s going to be coming out all over America in time for Christmas”), which, she says, was conceived with her personal philosophy in mind. “[It’s based on] the whole concept of living with an open heart, which is something that I really believe in,” she says. “When your heart is open, you can give and receive love, and really, the only way to live is with an open heart.”

Dear Prudence premieres on Hallmark Channel Aug. 23.