Joan Collins: "There's a lot in my book that's rude, but it's the truth!"

Joan Collins: "There's a lot in my book that's rude, but it's the truth!"

Joan Collins's living room is exactly how you'd want it to be: lots of gold, lots of wonderful art on the walls, the feeling that you are where multiple glamorous guests have been before. I've been let in by Percy Gibson, Collins' spirited husband, who has a very Hollywood kind of timelessness, but is actually 56 years old; the couple is about to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. He leads me into the living room and leaves.

He confessed that he was nervous at the idea of ​​meeting with Collins. Among my earliest childhood memories are my parents watching Dynasty, as everyone else did back then, and occasionally allowing me to stay up late and watch it with them. I remember how Alexis Carrington, played by Collins, filled the screen with her icy presence, and when I was a child I read the works of CS Lewis, the White Witch had the face of Collins. Perhaps it is not surprising then to learn that our meeting does not start well foot. I have sat at the end of a green velvet sofa. Collins, 88, immaculate, resplendent, enters the room like an apparition, wearing black trousers, velvet slippers and a silk shirt embroidered with black lilies. She is impossibly glamorous, her hair a shiny black, looking younger than her husband (who actually looks younger than she is). As I watch her, astonished, she tells me in her deep, sonorous voice to get away from her. Slightly devastated, I get up to sit in a chair at a respectful distance. “I am exhausted – she explains – her, and we continue to maintain social distance.” She and Gibson have been to the theater three times in the last week. “We went yesterday to see Mamma Mia! and we got home at almost one in the morning. It was wonderful. Almost back to normal. And you could feel that everyone was happy to be there.

Collins seems indefatigable. She has 255,000 followers on Instagram, where she primarily posts images of herself in a variety of settings. And she's about to publish her nineteenth book: My Unapologetic Diaries, a poignant, funny, at times poignant recollection of her years from leaving Dynasty in 1991 to the present. “I have been writing diaries since I was 12 years old,” she says. “I have dozens of them filled with tiny writing. But I started this memoir because someone gave me one of those Dictaphone recorders and I thought, "Oh well, Dynasty is over, and it's the end of an era, so I'll start writing about whatever comes next." I recorded my thoughts coming back from parties or work and didn't think anyone would ever read it. There's a lot in there that I ramble on half drunk, or tell about having the flu or headaches. I hope they've removed the boring stuff. But there's also some really wonderful stuff, some fabulous parties - celebrities, aristocrats, royalty." Some fragments, it must be said, are very ruthless. Jay Leno is "one of the least funny men in the country"; Raquel Welch “isn't exactly slender”; Steven Seagal is "an asshole." "Oh, I'm past the age where I need to be squeamish," he says. Talking to the recorder seemed like the most friendly thing to do. And from that time I had no partner. She had a boyfriend named Robin, whom she mentions briefly and rather unluckily. I said to the editor, “Should I take this down?” and he replied: "No, it's the truth." Look, there's a lot in the book that's nasty, but it's the truth! So is a diary. You write what you see and what you feel.

I point out to her one particularly poignant moment – ​​about Glenn Close as Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians, about which she says “it's awful… He plays her as humorless and without a hint of vulnerability. In short, the yawn of the year.” "I wanted that role! Collins yells. They had promised me!” And no doubt she would have been a perfect DeVil. I speak with Collins the day after the death of Michael Nader, who played Dex Dexter, his on-again, off-again love interest on Dynasty. "He was one of the most attractive men on television," says Collins. He used to make me angry because the writers made me leave him constantly. During the filming we had a lot of contact, but we lost it after finishing the series. He lost contact with everyone except Emma Samms and Stephanie Beacham».

Jem Mitchell

Joan Collins:

The diary recounts the last days of Dynasty, when Collins, who had just gotten a substantial raise, was told that because of that raise he would only be able to appear in half the episodes of what was to be the final season of the series. Serie. "The ending was ridiculous," she says. We laughed a lot. Emma is taken away by a spaceship. They throw me over a railing and I come back as if nothing happened. It was all stupid. It was because the new person in charge of the series hated it. She hated the clothes, she hated the glamour, she hated the fact that we had real orchids. He wanted to fuck her, and she did." Joan Collins was born in London in 1933, the daughter of Elsa, a dance teacher, and Joseph William Collins, a talent agent whose clients would later include the Beatles, Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones. She studied at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and signed with Rank Studios at the age of 17. She starred in 75 films and dozens of series, as well as numerous productions on Broadway and the West End.“My father was an agent and we were always surrounded by British stars. It's not like I'm a country girl,” she declares. When I went to Hollywood I had a boyfriend who was the son of Charlie Chaplin, who was a good friend of Gene Kelly, who was a good friend of Jay Cantor, who was the agent of Marlon Brando and Paul Newman. I was immediately caught up in this social maelstrom. I never thought much about it. It was like Scarlet O'Hara – “I'll think about it tomorrow” – so it's now remembering that people say to me: “Did you know Brando, did you work with Bette Davis?” and I realize that I took it for granted». he rubbed elbows with the Royal Family, for whom he has great affection. In her book she writes movingly about the death of Princess Diana, about the gulf that opened up in her life. "I'm not going to say anything against Meghan," she says, "but I think whoever is doing what's being done there is really hurting the Royal Family. I hate to say it, but I fear for the future. When her Majesty passes away it will be the end of an era. We have always had her in our lives as a leader of the State. I don't want to say anything else because it will be taken out of context." We talk about Hollywood and how it has changed in recent years. "Her star of hers has faded," he says. But have you seen what movies are they taking out? », She asks me with a glare.

There is also the shadow created by the crimes of Harvey Weinstein and others, the fact that for many young actresses it was more a place of terror and trauma than a dream factory. "They were all involved," he says, indiscreetly mentioning two other famous directors. That was the way things were." He wonders if the industry has lost something in its quest to repair his image. "We're social animals and we want to be able to say, 'Wow, you look great in that dress.' But you can't do it anymore. You can't compliment a woman on her hair or her makeup. She writes off people for being too affectionate, for giving too many hugs. I am the opposite. I hate being touched. Now with COVID-19 it's wonderful because I can say, 'No, please don't touch me.'” On the plus side, he believes the industry has less age bias. (One of the themes that emerges strongly from her book is her barely concealed fury at not being considered for certain roles due to her age.) “Nicole Kidman speaks very highly of the subject,” he says. She received a lot of criticism because she was 48 years old when she started on Dynasty. Criticism also when I did The Stallion (1978) because she undressed me. Criticism when I did Playboy ». Collins has the last laugh, and continues to work. “I don't get thousands of scripts, but I'm very proud to have been acting for 70 years and I haven't worked alone when I wanted to. Even so, I was lucky to be able to do Dynasty. The studio thought she was too old and they desperately wanted Jessica Walter. She just died, poor thing », she adds, with a smile. She left Dame Joan. She is planning trips abroad, reviewing film and stage scripts, calling Rupert Murdoch to get artwork for a BBC documentary on her life. She always on the go and happy to be. A lesson for all that advanced age does not mean shorter horizons.

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