British actor Jane Seymour has had a long career, from her turn as a Bond girl in 1973’s Live and Let Die to queen of the fictional country of Cordinia in the 2014 Hallmark holiday movie A Royal Christmas with Lacey Chabert. But to American TV audiences, she may be best known for her starring role as a stereotype-shattering female doctor in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
The period drama — which aired from 1993 to 1998 — saw Seymour playing a physician from Boston who sets up a practice in Colorado Springs in the years just after the Civil War. The show made Seymour the highest-paid woman on TV for a time, but when she landed the job, she was in dire financial straits.
Jane Seymour says she was in ‘despair’ before she was cast in ‘Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman’
In a November 2020 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Seymour reflected on the circumstances that led to her getting cast on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She was recently divorced from her third husband, David Flynn, and the breakup had left her completely broke.
“The first thing I remember is that my ex-husband at that time had lost all our money, left me $9 million in the red with lawsuits from every major bank,” she shared. “I was homeless, penniless and I called my agent and said I would do anything.”
Flynn was Seymour’s business manager, she explained in a 2008 interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
“My now very ex-husband was unbelievably unfaithful. And I found out our entire financial circumstances were a complete disaster,” she recalled. “I thought I was going to have to be bankrupt and really lost all sense of self-esteem and everything.”
Jane Seymour was cast in ‘Dr. Quinn’ the day before production began
Seymour’s agent delivered, landing her the part of Dr. Michaela “Mike” Quinn in a CBS television movie. But the job came with two catches. First, she had to begin work the next day. Second, she had to be willing to commit to the show should the movie be successful and the network want to turn it into a series.
“He called the networks, and they said, how about a little movie of the week? But she has to sign for five years in case it becomes a series, she has to start tomorrow morning — less than 12 hours from now — and that was it,” Seymour told ET.
The actor said the show “saved my life.”
“I got a roof over my head, I got some money so I could get back on my feet, and my kids could come out to the set and do their schoolwork in the trailer and they wrote the most beautiful material ever,” she said.
Seymour said she loved her ‘Dr. Quinn’ character
Seymour was looking to get out of a financial jam when she agreed to do Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. But she also was drawn to the script and the character, she told the Pioneer Press.
“I signed for a five-year deal with the understanding that it was never going to happen because it was a little movie they didn’t believe in anyway,” she said. “I thought it was a beautiful script and loved the character. And 180 hours of ‘Dr. Quinn’ later that’s when we quit.”