AS SHE EMBRACES A BRIGHT NEW FUTURE SUSAN GEORGE OPENS HER HEART ABOUT MOVING ON AND THE EXCITING CHANGES IN HER LIFE
Looking every inch the lady of the manor as she poses against the historic backdrop of Maunsel House, a stunning medieval mansion in Somerset, time seems to have stood still for the ever youthful Susan George.
Yet the actress is experiencing monumental changes in her personal and professional life right now -changes she talks about for the first time in this exclusive interview with HELLO!.
“I’ve turned a massive corner,” she says. “I feel incredibly excited, which I never thought I’d feel again. There’s so much more to do in my lifetime and still so much to fulfill.”
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Not only is Susan embracing a renaissance in her film and TV career, preparing for a one-woman stage show and completing her candid autobiography, but she is also considering a move from the wilds of Exmoor and parting with many of her Georgian Arabian horses, part of the equestrian breeding enterprise she has devoted more than two decades to.
It is all, she says, exactly what her husband, actor Simon MacCorkindale, who died of cancer at 58 in 2010, would have wanted.
“He used to ask me if the time would come when I’d resume my acting career. We built up the business together and I’ve loved every minute but now my focus has changed and my decision is to sell many of the horses, to keep just ten and continue my breeding programme in a smaller way.
“I love this place so much, but as beautiful as it is, it’s miles from anywhere and impossible to do anything spontaneously. I used to think of my farm as my sanctuary, as the place where Simon is. Well, that’s nonsense because he will be with me wherever I go.
“Simon would have wanted me to have moved on sooner. But he would also know that I’d need to do it in my own time. That time is now, and from this moment I intend to pursue other dreams.”
For Susan, who found fame in psychological thrillers Straw Dogs and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, those dreams include choosing carefully from her many film and TV offers. At 66 she is keen to steer away from the roles that earned her a reputation as a sex symbol.
“They were great times but now is now. I’d like a matriarchal role. I love comedy, too. For a long while after Simon’s death I’d laugh but didn’t feel it, but now I feel laughter is back in my life.
“My autobiography, which will be published next year; is full of funny life experiences. Simon used to say, ‘You have to promise me you’ll finish the book, Susie. Your stories arc far too good not to be shared with others.'”
The glamour of Hollywood will play a role in her memoirs. Susan lived with Simon in California for 12 years and says: “I’m so fortunate to have been part of that time, when you went to a party and were likely to be in the company of Gary Grant and Grace Kelly.”
Her friends included Frank Sinatra, Lord Olivier, Michael Caine, Liza Minnelii and Olivia Newton John. She even rubbed shoulders with royalty, and her most, intriguing rapport in the 1970s was with the then eligible Prince of Wales. To this day she refuses to elaborate on what happened between them.
Her audience may probe her on the subject when she stages her show, An Evening With Susan George, at the beginning of next year, a prospect that does not faze her.
“I enjoy challenging situations,” she says.
Losing Simon, who died just a few days after the couple’s 26th wedding anniversary, has been the hardest thing Susan has ever had to endure.
“I felt as if I was in a fog. I felt as if my spirit had gone with him. Only last year did that spirit and vital spark return. I felt like me again and it became crystal clear what I had to do.”
On Valentine’s Day this year Susan’s gift of love to Simon was to create Lasting Life, a charity in his name. The first fundraising event, Lasting life Love Letters, will be held in London in November.
“Throughout the evening friends, celebrities, actors, writers and directors will share a love letter they have either written, received or read that has inspired them,” explains Susan.
The funds raised will go to the umbrella charity Raft (Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust), for which she is an ambassador. Raft helps rebuild the lives of children and adults all over the world who have suffered major physical trauma from life-threatening illnesses.
“I know that Simon would be proud of this initiative,” she says. “The importance of his life will remain ever present through this legacy.”
Does she regret not having another of Simon’s legacies – his child – by her side?
“Part of me would have loved it,” she says. “The time I wanted that more than ever was when it was impossible because he was no longer here. When we got married our aim was just to enjoy every moment of our time together. Then, when we were both filming and life was so busy, children never came into the frame. It’s not that we tried not to have a baby – it just didn’t happen.
“There’s no point in regrets. I’ve always believed that what will be will be. My credo to each day is about letting go and moving on.”
So how does she feel about the possibility of a new romance in the future?
“You can never say never in life. None of us knows what’s around the comer. Whatever happens, I am ever mindful that everything we have in life is on loan to us and I appreciate it all. I was so incredibly lucky to share 30 years of unconditional love with Simon and for that I will always be grateful.”