Joan Collins The Time of Their Lives Interview
Cast: Joan Collins, Pauline Collins, Franco Nero
Director: Roger Goldby
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Synopsis: Determined to gate-crash her ex-lover's funeral on the glamorous French hideaway of Îe-de-Ré, former Hollywood siren Helen (Joan Collins) escapes her London retirement home with the help of Priscilla (Pauline Collins), a repressed English housewife stuck in a dwindling marriage.
Pooling their limited resources, they hit the road in a race to get to Îe-de-Ré, becoming entangled in a love triangle with a reclusive Italian millionaire (Franco Nero) along the way. On this unforgettable journey, they find true friendship in one another and have the time of their lives.
The Time of Their Lives
Release Date: August 10th, 2017
Interview with Joan Collins
Dame Joan Collins stars as Helen in Time of their Lives from writer-director Roger Goldby. Helen is a former film star now living in a British care home who decides to use a trip to the seaside as a platform for an escape to France, where she'll attend the funeral of an old flame. She persuades Priscilla (Pauline Collins) to join her on her journey " a decision that sets in motion a road trip through the French countryside with romantic interludes and a discovery that will ultimately change both women's lives forever…
Question: What can you tell us about your character, Helen?
Joan Collins: Helen was a very successful actress for a brief time in the 1960s and then she had a baby, which in the mid-'60s was quite a felony [for an actress]! It would have wrecked her career so she gave it away to somebody. Because of that, she has spent the rest of the next 20 years really going off the rails. We don't specify this in the picture particularly, but by the time you meet Helen she has quite destroyed her life. From being a big star in the 1960s she is now a broken woman, really, and she has come back to England because she wanted to have a hip replacement on the NHS. And she feels that she has one opportunity to regain some semblance of real life, which is to reconnect with the daughter that she hasn't seen for 50 years.
Question: So she is attending a funeral in France because she knows her daughter will be there?
Joan Collins: Yes. She reads in the paper of the death of a director, who was her lover, and who also directed the film that made her a star. It was a cult film. I would say something like When Harry Met Sally, that kind of a film. It is called Morty And Me but because of that loss of her child, she just took to drink and drugs and men and she never married again, never had any more children, and she really became unemployable. So that is where she is when we meet her at the start of the film. Then she reads in the paper that Jerry [the director] has died, the love of her life, the father of her child and the man to whom she gave the child. So she decides to go and try and meet the daughter.
Question: Is it a redemptive story?
Joan Collins: Yes, I would say so. She is slightly crippled because of her hip. She has to walk with a stick, which I do through the first half of the film. And if you are not thinking about the pain it gets better. She realizes that she has got to have an accomplice to get to France, which is very difficult for her, and my story is basically how these two women go about that. She meets up with Priscilla [Pauline Collins] who is verbally and psychologically abused [by her husband]. And Priscilla becomes her accomplice as they make their way across France to get to this funeral in time for Helen to see and hopefully meet up with her daughter. Helen hopes that her daughter will love her, which is a bit of a fantasy, of course. She is very vulnerable because she is very hard on the outside. She's just a great character to play. Roger [Goldby] has written a fabulous, fabulous part, not just for me but for Pauline as well. They are two great parts for women.
Question: That's quite rare…
Joan Collins: They don't write women's parts like this. They really don't. The two leading characters are female and I think the last film like this was Thelma & Louise. I said this is like Thelma & Louise: the next generation, or Trains, Planes and Automobiles because we are in coaches, in hired cars, in broken down jalopies as we try and get to the funeral. It is a very good plot. It is a really fun movie and it very poignant. It is also very funny. There is a lot of comedy.
Question: Do you have strong female friendships in your own life, stretching back over the years?
Joan Collins: Oh yes. They are both called Judy, my two best friends. When I first went to Hollywood when I was 21 my agent was called Jay Kanter and his wife was Judy Balaban, who was the daughter of the man who ran Paramount. I adored this woman and she was very knowledgeable about everything, like menus and flowers and social dressing, all of the things that I really didn't know a lot about at 21, even though I had been an actress for four years. We became great friends and she's still my friend and we see each other whenever I am in LA and we text each other. My really best friend is another Judy I met when I made Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? That was a movie that was written, created and starred my ex-husband, Anthony Newley, and me. His secretary " we call them PAs now " was called Judy who was this nice English girl from Golders Green. We became close friends and have stayed as close as we possibly could be. She lives in Las Vegas now but I see her all the time. She's flying over to come to her daughter's wedding in August. My daughter was a flower girl at her wedding. We are very close but I have a lot of other friends, and a lot of gay friends.
Question: Are you a woman's woman?
Joan Collins: I am both. I am a woman's woman and a man's woman. I don't differentiate.
Question: Is there a contrast between Helen and Priscilla in this film? In Thelma & Louise, for example, Susan Sarandon is very strong and Geena Davis is rather ditsy…
Joan Collins: We are not the same characters by any means. Obviously, I am the stronger because I am the one who persuades her to get away from the abusive husband, who I call -the Devil'. He destroys her over a packet of biscuits in the Co-op. Really, I kidnap her and get her on the coach with me with all the OAPs to get through customs and into France.
Question: You did a Tales Of The Unexpected with Pauline many years ago. Did you reminisce about that or have you seen one another over the years?
Joan Collins: We haven't crossed paths that much. Shortly after that [Tales of the Unexpected] I went to Hollywood. When you think of all the people you work with, you very rarely form lasting relationships with any of them. But whenever Pauline and I have seen each other, it's always been, -Hello, darling, how are you?' When I became a Dame last year I had a party at Claridges and I invited Pauline and John [Alderton, her husband], so we did see each other. She is a wonderful actress. I suggested her to Roger because Roger came to me with this script five years ago and we talked about various actresses. I won't tell you who the others were. But I suggested Pauline and he said that was a great idea.
Question: What made you think about her specifically?
Joan Collins: I just thought of her when I read it. I thought, -This part is for you.' Priscilla is Pauline. I thought of a couple of other people, too. But I just thought that she would be perfect. Pauline is such a wonderful actress and so expressive and such a nice person and down to earth.
Question: And Helen, your character, is quite strong?
Joan Collins: Yes. She's strong but she's very vulnerable and she gets hurt a hell of a lot in this film. She gets rejected and hurt and stung. People are quite horrible to her.
Question: When we first meet her is she presented as glamorous?
Joan Collins: No. She is not glamorous at all. I am wearing a hideous wig. Without a doubt it is the most hideous wig that has ever been created! When you first see her she is in a retirement home looking at a picture of herself in 1965, looking very pretty and she has this wig that she puts on trying to look like she did in 1965. Except she doesn't. It is a disaster. But I braved it through!
Question: Have you enjoyed working with Franco Nero on the film because you two go back quite a long way?
Joan Collins: I love Franco. I met Franco a hundred years ago when he was doing Camelot and he was lovely. I am yet to do my big scene with him. I have just done one scene, in the car, with him. He is really nice.
Question: Is there a freedom that comes with aging? People often say what they think, and stop worrying…
Joan Collins: I have never been much of a worrier, to tell you the truth. My main worries in my life have been my children. I worry about them all the time. I always have, and I always will. If I haven't heard from my daughter Katy who is in Boston " if I haven't had a text or an email from her for two days, I get worried. I have never particularly worried about what people think. I suppose I do worry about it less now but it has never been a big thing in my life. I have always faced my fair share of criticism whether it's my heels are too high, my lips are too red, my shoulders are too wide, my acting is too broad. Whatever it is, you get used to that and then you just let it roll over you.
Question: Young actors today find that social media scrutiny is unbearable. Does that affect you?
Joan Collins: I do not Google myself at all, not ever. I am on Twitter and Instagram and I am on Facebook, mostly because it is quite fun. I don't take any notice [of the bad remarks]. I haven't had many trolls, just a couple of times but nothing specifically damaging. I mentioned Donald Trump, which appeared in an article years and years ago. I'd said that I had partially based my character Alexis [from Dynasty] on a mixture of Donald Trump and my best friend at the time. Nobody took any notice of that for years and years. Now, of course, it makes headlines: -Joan Collins is supporting Trump.' I didn't say that! But I do think it must be hell to be a young actress who tries to keep a low profile, like that girl who was the female lead in Jason Bourne.
Question: You mean Alicia Vikander…
Joan Collins: Yes. She's a wonderful actress and you do not read that much about her. I think she is being very clever. I think that people become so over-exposed on social media that it is ludicrous. The constant barrage of selfies is so utterly narcissistic, isn't it? To be that narcissistic as an actor really takes away from being a good actor because you are always thinking about what people think. -Are they looking at my selfies?' -How many followers do I have?' -God, she's got more than me. She has got 17 million and I have only got 16 million…'
Question: Social media is also very hard on children, isn't it?
Joan Collins: My grandchildren don't do it. They're two 12-year-olds and one 17-year-old. They do other things but I don't think they Tweet and things like that. It is obsessive. For me, I wanted to put up a few pictures from The Time of Their Lives because I have enjoyed it so much. It has been such a life-giving experience. The cast is fabulous, the crew is wonderful, and Roger is great. He is a really, really good, intelligent clever director who I really respect.
Question: You mentioned Alexis. Even though that was a while ago do you find that people still want to talk about that show and that character?
Joan Collins: All the time. You are talking about it now (laughs)! Yes, I do find that, and I think that it's great that they do. It's flattering as an actor to be remembered for something that actually finished in '92. That's 24 years ago. But it's been constantly replayed and replayed. They are still selling the DVDs. They have only just brought out Season 8 on DVD. They have been rationing it. Someone has been making a shit load of money, and it's not me!
Question: One of my favourite films is Sea Wife. What do you remember about that era of filmmaking and Richard Burton?
Joan Collins: That was an era of filmmaking when quite a few of the leading men deemed it their divine right to sleep with the leading lady. And if you didn't, they really sent you to Coventry. It happened to me on at least four films
Question: To which leading men are you referring?
Joan Collins: Well, Richard Burton for one. George Peppard, Gene Barry. Richard Todd. They are all dead now.
Question: So you turned them down and they punished you for it?
Joan Collins: Yes. They wouldn't talk to me. George Peppard didn't speak to me at all. It was really sad. I am talking now about the '50s, '60s and '70s. I have made 62 films so I have been in a lot of films with a lot of leading men and certainly the scene has changed. A lot of them were just predatory. We were fair game, pretty young girls. -Let's go fish them out.' It was the same thing in the Hollywood studios in the '50s. It was not just me. It was every pretty young girl. A lot of them succumbed.
Question: Do you think there are too few working class actors?
Joan Collins: No, I think if you have talent it is going to come through. If you have been brought up in a council house or whatever, if you really care about wanting to be an actor, you will do whatever you can. You will join an amateur dramatic society, go and form a group and do Shakespeare. My granddaughter is doing that. She is 17 and wants to be an actor. She's been to the Edinburgh Festival. She has played Ophelia. She's played all of Shakespeare's heroines and the heroes as well. She really wants to do it and she is studying hard. I am amazed sometimes when I talk to actors, not even the young ones, and I mention Lawrence Olivier and they say, -Who is Lawrence Olivier?' I am not kidding. Often, I think young people believe that being an actor or an actress is a very glamorous profession and it is all about swanning around in couture frocks on the red carpet. That is just the teeny cherry on the top. Wonderful actresses like Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore work their butts off doing really good work. It's not an easy profession but it is very rewarding.
Question: Is there anyone you still want to work with?
Joan Collins: I have always wanted to work with Woody Allen. I met him a long time ago, 30 years ago. I had just read an article about him in Esquire and it talked about his shyness. I was at this party. I was wearing quite a close-cut dress and I went over to him and I said, -Mr. Allen, I just want to say I identified with you when I read your article because I am shy, too.' He looked at my cleavage and said, -You could have fooled me!' (laughs) But I can't wait to see his new film, Café Society. I love the way that he lets actors do their thing; apparently he doesn't direct them. I love all his films. I know that they're not huge box office smashes but I love them. I would like to work with Tom Hooper, too.
Question: It is surprising how many actors say they got into acting because they were shy…
Joan Collins: It is true because you hide yourself in a character. I am not like Alexis Carrington but I did such a good job that everybody still thinks I am just like her! She would never eat a croissant like I am doing right now!
The Time of Their Lives
Release Date: August 10th, 2017