Friday, 26 June 2015

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Jane Asher

…is an English actress, author and entrepreneur, with her own range of cakes and kitchenware. Starting out as a child actress, she has starred in many television programmes and films, including Alfie, Mistress, Crossroads and The Old Guys.

What are you working on at the moment?
Just finishing filming with Donald Sutherland (as charming as you’d expect) and starting a brandnew play for the Park Theatre, London.

When are you at your happiest?
I can be perfectly happy lying on the sofa drinking a glass of wine and watching rubbish on television. I’m glad to say that’s a regular occupation.

What is your greatest fear?
My children being injured, ill or unhappy. It’s wonderful having children, but it opens you up to the possibility of pain and sadness.

What is your earliest memory?
Being homesick on location at the age of five; I had a small part in a film called Mandy and stayed in Manchester with a chaperone. But it got me hooked on showbiz, even though I missed my mum!

What do you most dislike about yourself?
My competitiveness: it makes playing games more fun, but it can be annoying to other people.

Who has been your greatest influence?
My mother for showing me unquestioning love and appreciation and my father for his brilliance in medicine, which is why I am such a science groupie and work with medically-based charities.

What is your most treasured possession?
My wedding ring: such a tiny object to represent over 40 years together, but which is truly irreplaceable.

What trait do you most deplore in others?
Irresponsible, unscientific nonsense – from the madness of ‘detoxing’ to ‘gluten-free’ diet obsession or panic over vaccinations. Modern medicine has ridden us of so many horrendous diseases, we should never take it for granted.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
The brilliant director Bill Gaskill once told me, when I was wittering on about some physical problem, never to complain about bits of me I didn’t like – it only draws attention to them. 

What is your favourite book?
Stoner by John Williams. I’m tempted to call it the perfect novel: incredibly moving and quietly gripping.

And your favourite film?
Memento: the first film, of which there are now many, to explore memory loss and use it in a chilling, eerie thriller.

Your favourite piece of music?
Any Mozart, but if I feel miserable I’ll put on the last movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. It almost convinces me that the world’s okay after all.

Q A-Jun26-02-590

What is your favourite meal?
Lobster with mayonnaise, then cold rare roast beef with salad – all washed down with champagne. A woman of simple tastes, as you can see.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?
My late father. I’d love him to meet his grandchildren and I’d also show him how the name he gave to the condition he first identified – Munchausen’s syndrome – is still in use, and that his writing is still published and admired.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
A review that began ‘Jane Asher, whose charm has always somehow escaped me…’ I had a feeling I wasn’t off to a good start there.

Do you write thank-you notes?
Yes – the only time I write in longhand, with a fountain pen.

Which phrase do you most overuse?
‘It’s a nightmare…’ Especially as I’m likely to use it for things like the dishwasher breaking down. For the real nightmares, I’d not be so flippant.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Losing 20 years? There’s no doubt that physically, things tend to deteriorate after 45ish.

Tell us one thing people might not know about you.
I can write my name upside down.

What would you like your epitaph to read?
Whatever will least embarrass my children.

Jane stars in The Gathered Leaves at Park Theatre, London N4, from 15 July to 15 August: 020-7870 6876, www.parktheatre.co.uk



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