Dame Joan Collins, 88, was born in Paddington and trained in Rada. She started appearing in films when she was still a teenager, with over 70 credits including our daughter friday, Earth of the pharaohs, The virgin queen, the stud and the bitch. In the 80s, she became known as Alexis Colby in the American soap opera Dynasty, a role that won him a Golden Globe. In recent years, she has returned to television with figures like The Royals, Benidorm and american horror story. His new thesis, My diaries, is now available.
Did the return to your diaries of the 90s take you back in time?
Absoutely. They were not written in the usual way. I never put a pen on paper. Between 1989 and 2006, I spoke into a dictaphone almost every night when I got home, then put it away and forgot about it for years. When I mentioned these tapes to my agent, he thought it might make an interesting book. Because everything has been said, people say they feel like they are there.
You start the book by saying that you have been called “Britain’s bad girl, England’s answer to Ava Gardner, a bitch, a pouting panther and a coffee vixen.” Did you secretly like any of these descriptions?
[Laughs] Not really. I was a teenager appearing in British films when I was called most of them. Some were a little upsetting, but you can’t let it get to you. To stay in this business, you need to develop thick skin and a strong character. I had my first reviews when I was 17. Some were very mean and made me cry. A lot. But I got over it.
Reviews don’t make you cry anymore, I guess?
Roger Moore is a recurring presence in newspapers. Who would you like to see become the new James Bond?
James Norton or Tom Hardy would be nice. I have known Roger since I was 15 years old. We met in a theater agent’s office and have been friends ever since.
You meet Donald Trump several times in the book but don’t seem to be in love with him …
Tell me someone who is lover of Donald Trump.
You once told John Major to wear smaller glasses. Did he follow your advice?
He ended up having better glasses, so maybe he listened. I loved him so much. I was with Shirley Bassey at an event in Downing Street and right away he made one of the best speeches I have ever heard. Shirley and I were stunned. We couldn’t understand why he was so hated as Prime Minister.
You also say that Boris Johnson “seems to brush his hair with an egg beater” …
Well he was my boss for a while. He was editor-in-chief of Spectator when I was a guest columnist.
You seemed terribly upset by the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Why did it affect you so much?
I just thought she was an iconic figure and a very sweet woman whenever I met her. At a charity event, she was intimidated by paparazzi and screaming crowds, so she asked me how I got all the attention. She seemed very vulnerable. I was also told 10 days before her death, while I was in this little restaurant in Saint-Tropez, that Diana had just been there with her boyfriend Dodi and her two boys. They laughed and danced, like any young family. It was all the more tragic to hear how happy she had been.
You are celebrating your 70th birthday in showbiz. What has been the most enjoyable decade?
If I had to pick one it would be the 1960s. I had two young children and only worked when I wanted to. I had no pressure to be the breadwinner because I was married to Tony [her second husband, Anthony Newley]. We lived in Hollywood and had a lot of good friends – the English contingent like Dudley Moore, Peter Sellers and Diana Dors. It was a fun time, stress free. Probably the only decade that was.
Missing the Golden Age of Hollywood Glamor?
What I miss is the glamor of the holidays. This culture no longer seems to exist. What they have now is the red carpet, which is all wrong. Everyone dresses in borrowed dresses and jewelry, they pose for Instagram, then they go home. There isn’t really a party scene. Or if there is, it is very secret.
There’s a lot of what you call “boozing and schmoozing” in the book. What’s your drink today?
I’ll have a glass of wine with dinner. Sometimes a martini, but I don’t drink too much. Most everyone I know no longer drinks. It is a dying art.
you wrote 18 pounds now. What would your late novelist sister Jackie think about this?
She would be very proud. She wrote 36, so I have some catching up to do, but that was her main job. Sony is supposed to do a biopic on us called Jeanne and Jackie. I’m looking forward to a date with the screenwriter next week, actually.
You have already called yourself a “born survivor”. Does this still apply?
I hope. I don’t know if I was born like this, but I certainly became one. I am fortunate to be in very good health – I touch wood saying this – and to have all of my faculties, great family and good friends.
What’s in store for you?
The BBC is making a documentary about my life, which is fascinating. I have a few other big projects coming up but it’s bad luck to talk about them. In the book I mention how I was going to play Cruella de Vil, so I didn’t. It happens if you speak too early. Now I don’t talk about anything until the clap clicks. Cruella and Cleopatra are the only two roles I wish I had missed.
You fought for pay equity with your male co-stars on Dynasty. Were you ahead of your time in this regard?
I had spoken openly about equal pay since I was 20 years old. I just don’t see why men should be paid more. If they’re a bigger star, maybe. If it’s Tom Cruise and Jane Whoever, then he should be making more money. If it’s Meryl Streep and Sam Nothing, sure she should be making more money. When this does not apply, the salary should be the same.
Would you describe yourself as a feminist?
Absoutely. I did this long before this word was widely used. I have always believed in equality. Women can do anything that men do and they have the right to do it. The only possible area where women are not equal is physical strength. That’s why I’ll let someone carry my bags. Well, there are a lot of bags.
Diaries turn into a charming love story towards the end when, at 66, you meet Percy Gibson, your fifth and current husband …
Thank you, it’s kind of you to say that. And best of all, the love story still continues.