It took a glamorous, fearless actress to play Alexis Carrington Colby, the villainous diva of the 1980s hit soap opera Dynasty—and Joan Collins was perfect for the part.
The British actress, who’s starred in dozens of TV shows, movies and plays, is most recognized for her role in the dramatic series, which revolved around a wealthy Texas family; her performance was credited for boosting the show’s ratings and garnered her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.
Off camera, Collins has written lifestyle, memoir and nonfiction books and, as her most recent honor, was named a dame in January by Queen Elizabeth II.
Known for her charm, wit and ask-me-anything personality, she will be the featured speaker at the Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County’s seventeenth annual Old Bags Luncheon, taking place March 5 at The Breakers in Palm Beach. Tickets cost $350. (561-616-1222, ctrfam.org)
How easy was it for you to play Alexis?
Contrary to popular belief, I have very little in common with Alexis, aside from her fierce mothering instinct. She was a smart businesswoman with an instinct for finance and power, which sometimes I wished I shared. But through the nine years I played her, I came to love her. John Gielgud told me, when he was playing Richard III, that it was crucial to love your character, even if you are playing the most dastardly villain, as it will bring richness and complexity to the script.
If a network were to bring Dynasty back to television today, like TNT did with Dallas, would you rejoin the show?
Of course, but it ain’t gonna happen!
Do you keep in touch with any of your Dynasty castmembers?
Not really. I have run into them through the years, and we’re always very friendly, but film sets and plays are very transitory. You go onto the next one, make new acquaintances and move on in life, as do they. Lasting friendships on set are extremely rare, but I do try to make at least one good friend out of my many experiences! Lately, though, I’ve seen Stephanie Beacham, Emma Sams, and Jack Coleman more regularly.
What projects are you working on today?
I’ll shortly be seen on U.S. TV on E!‘s first scripted series The Royals. In the U.K., I’m a recurring character on their longest-running comedy Benidorm. I continue making films, having released two last year. I also launched my own beauty and cosmetics range last year in Europe, Joan Collins Timeless Beauty, available through QVC, which i’m happy to report is doing very well. I tour my one-woman show constantly through the U.S. and Europe, and I’m always writing articles and books, having published at least one a year of the latter. I have a philosophy that the harder I work, the luckier I get, so I keep working.
What’s your top beauty secret?
Stay out of the sun! Nothing ravages the skin more than the elements, so it’s why I wear sun protection and always wear makeup—makeup, particularly SPF products, is a godsend to keep your skin youthful, radiant and nourished.
One of the biggest draws at the Old Bags Luncheon is the handbag auction. Do you have a favorite purse?
What do you enjoy about Palm Beach?
I adore Palm Beach—the architecture, the history and, of course, the shopping on Worth Avenue! But I think what I enjoy most about Palm Beach is the friends I have there and down in South Beach. There is an immediate sense of calm and relaxation when I arrive—the spacious boulevards and lazy traffic and the stillness of it all rejuvenates the soul.
What event would you say changed your life the most?
There is no question that Dynasty catapulted me to international stardom, and I can hardly argue that it wasn’t my most life-changing moment. However, having my children was probably the most fulfilling experience of my life. But I’ve just been made a dame, which—although not life changing—is a tremendous honour, and I’m totally thrilled. (For those who don’t know, a dame is the female equivalent of a knighthood.)
What’s your favorite childhood memory?