Jane Asher: People think I'm dead!
CELEBRITY She dated a Beatle and her porcelain skin makes her look 20 years younger. But will actress and baking goddess Jane Asher tell us her secrets? JANE ODDY finds out...
Friday, November 2, 2007
http://www.mirror.co.uk/showbiz/yourlif ... -20051086/
She may look fantastic for her age, but don't even think of asking Jane Asher if she's had surgery. "I've always said that beauty secrets should remain secret because I'm sure there will be a time, like anybody, when I would consider it," she says.
"Mystery is much better. It's like marriage, the less you say about it, the more likely it is that it'll work in your own life."
Still boasting the flawless, English rose complexion that she had in the 60s, it's hard to believe that Jane is a pensioner. So how does she do it?
Reluctantly, the 61-year-old actress agrees to share her secret formula. "I never sunbathe," she reveals. "I loathed being a redhead when I was younger because it meant I couldn't go in the sun - now I realise I was lucky. I tried and tried, but melanin doesn't exist in my skin. I never got that tanned look.
"One time I was so desperate to be like all my friends and go brown, I lay in it so long my face bubbled up in blisters. That was the last time I ever did. I try and look after myself. Your face is the tool of your trade in this business."
In her latest movie, Death At A Funeral, Jane plays a widow surrounded by her children's secrets and lies. But the actress admits that her own brood could not be more different. Despite having sons of 23 and 25, there are no signs of them flying the nest, and her eldest has moved his girlfriend into the family home in Chelsea.
"I hope they stay as long as they want, I hate to think of them leaving," she admits. "I wouldn't mind at all if they're all here in their 40s."
At a time of life when TV parts can dry up, Jane has never been busier. She had a stint on BBC1's Holby City and is reprising her role as Lady Byrne in the hospital drama for three months next year. And she's filming a new drama series for ITV called The Palace in Lithuania in which she plays the Queen in a fictional royal family.
Away from work, Jane has been married to cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, 71, for 36 years. "I can't really say why it's worked for so long, relationships are complex," she ponders. "It helps to pick someone you really like and get on with.
He's a good friend as much as anything and we're still romantic, we just got back from Paris last weekend. And the most romantic thing of all is that he has brought me a cup of tea in bed pretty much every day since we've been together.
"I'm happy to cook dinner, do the washing-up, but there is something about that early morning cup of tea that is wonderful."
Try to commit Jane to a conversation about her relationship with former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and you fight a losing battle.
She met him in 1963, two weeks after her 17th birthday, having been sent by the Radio Times to interview the Beatles.
Her mother invited McCartney to live in the family home. There, he and John Lennon wrote I Want to Hold Your Hand and several more of McCartney's greatest songs, including We Can Work It Out, said to be inspired by his relationship with Jane.
His fellow Beatles assumed the couple would marry, but Paul ended up with Linda: "I never talk about that," Jane says firmly. "Private life is private life."
But one subject she is chatty about is food. Despite being super-slim, she admits she indulges herself. "We eat lovely food and I've never dieted. I do drink, too. I love my wine," she smiles. "I often think: Is that going to suddenly implode on my face?" At one time, Jane was the queen of baking, yet she insists the whole thing was accidental. "When I had children, I started making cakes for them," she recalls. "I wrote a book because it seemed like something to do, and it was quite exciting."
Her range of mail-order and supermarket cake mixes have come to the rescue of many a panicking housewife and she has her own cake shop in London, still going after 16 years.
She laughs at the suggestion that she was the first domestic goddess, and admits she is good friends with her successor, Nigella Lawson.
Like most women, Jane has her own anxieties about the passing of time, and confesses that 50 was probably her hardest birthday. "That's not to say 60 wasn't tough.
But now I'm past 50, I've tended not to worry about my age as much.
"People say this preoccupation with youth and skinniness is new, but there has always been an obsession with women looking young. The celebrity culture has just encouraged it.
"But I try not to over-obsess about it. I have played so many different types of characters where you can sometimes look absolutely dreadful. That can be a treat."
Two years ago she starred in a movie as the Queen of Constantinople who has an affair with a 16-year-old toyboy. "It was fun but the actor was actually 24," she explains.
"There is something a bit yucky about a woman of 61 saying she feels sexy, but I do feel glamorous when I'm done up. I think if you're a womanly woman, you always feel like that."
Jane has been famous since her first film at five, but says she has managed to keep her life private. "I'm out shopping every day and maybe sometimes I look like Jane Asher and get spotted and sometimes I don't," she shrugs. "I don't tend to get recognised as much, people think you're dead or retired!"
To keep in shape, Jane swims. She is also conscious of her health - her sister Clare, 59, has been diagnosed with breast cancer twice - so Jane has been careful to get herself checked out. "She's fine now. But it was very stressful at the time," she says.
Despite her busy life - she also writes novels - Jane says her priority has always been her family.
"Motherhood has meant everything to me. I was happy to raise my children at home and I've never regretted that.
"I always knew I wanted children, but at first I wasn't particularly maternal. But within five minutes I was besotted with this demanding, impossible little thing." she laughs.
Yet she admits suffering from post-natal depression and panic attacks when her eldest child, Katie, was born. "Nothing too serious, but enough to know it's very nasty.
"I'd been feeding her for quite a long time and my GP very sensibly told me to stop in case I had to have anti-depressants and also to see if it was a hormonal thing. It did the trick so I was lucky really."
She reveals that Katie, now 33, has just decided to become an actress and started a two-year course last month at LAMDA.
"We tried to keep them away from acting but now I'm excited for her. It's a tough job but it's entirely up to her. I think she's a wonderful actress. And I tell you, I plan to pull any strings I can to get her work!"
Death At A Funeral is in cinemas now