Jane Seymour’s acting career was almost derailed after she was sexually harassed by a “powerful” Hollywood producer when she was in her 20s, the actress told Megyn Kelly in an interview this week.
Seymour, who since the 1970s has dazzled on the stage and screen as a Bond girl, a medicine woman and a French queen, among other memorable roles, said she temporarily quit acting after the troubling encounter.
“I went back to England, and I quit acting for a year,” she said Monday on “Megyn Kelly Today.” “I gave up. I wasn’t going back to America; I wasn’t going back to Hollywood.”
The 66-year-old British actress said the producer — whom she described as “the single most powerful man in Hollywood at the time” — had invited her to his home to attend a movie screening. He’d told her that “lots of people” would be at the event and that he wanted her to attend so he could consider her for a new role.
When she got there, however, Seymour — who was about 22 or 23 at the time — said she found herself alone with the producer.
“The next thing I know, he says, ‘You’re amazing, you’re fantastic. I’m so excited. I’ve told everyone that you’re the perfect person for our movie, the director and everybody. Now, it’s your turn,’” said Seymour. “And I said, ‘My turn?’ He said, ‘Yeah, you know what you’ve got to do.’”
When Seymour responded that she needed to “give a great screen test” to get the role, she said the man placed “his hand on my high, right up close in the wrong place.”
Shocked, Seymour said she began scooting away on the sofa and, when he didn’t back off, she stood up and told him she had to leave.
“He got furious,” the actress recalled. “He called a cab and turned to me and looked me in the eye, and he said, ‘If you ever tell anyone that you were ever here, let alone what happened, you will never work again, anywhere, anywhere in the world.’”
Seymour said she later discovered that her agent and another producer, who had helped organize the meeting, had known exactly what the young actress was getting herself into when she went to the man’s house.
“People who were protecting me knew what I was going to have to do,” she said. ”[They] led me in like a lamb to slaughter.”
Seymour first related her accusation of sexual harassment in a November interview with “Sunrise,” an Australian morning show.
“I’ve often wondered whether I should tell this story, but I do feel it is very important,” Seymour said at the time, adding that the encounter had shaken her so much that she’d considered quitting acting altogether.
“The fact that it stopped me from being an actress for a whole year — and I could have quit the profession completely — shows you how devastating it was to me.”
Seymour did, however, eventually return to theater and to Hollywood.
Soon after returning to the U.S., she told Kelly that she was invited to the producer’s house once again for a dinner attended by Princess Margaret, the sister of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.
He didn’t recognize her, she said, and offered her a leading role — in the 1980 classic “Somewhere in Time.”
Though Seymour did not identify her harasser, saying only that he had died, British tabloid The Daily Mail suggested that renowned Hollywood producer Ray Stark could be the man in question based on the actress’s comments.
In a 2000 interview with Barnes&Noble.com, Seymour explained how she got cast in “Somewhere in Time.”
“I was attending a party at the home of Ray Stark, where he was entertaining a member of the British royal family,” she said. “At one point during the evening, he took me aside and said, ‘I’d like to set up a meeting with you. We’re working on a picture you might be just right for.’”
Stark, who died in 2005, has been accused of sexual harassing other women. Hollywood producer Jon Peters claimed in his memoir that Stark had sexually harassed his ex-girlfriend, Barbra Streisand, as well as actress Lesley Ann Warren.
In Stark’s New York Times obituary, his friend described how the producer would “flirt with comely female visitors” when they came to his home.
“I don’t know if anyone ever complained, but he was so incorrigible,” producer Alan Greisman said of Stark. “Today he’d get accused of sexual harassment.”