Simon MacCorkindale and Susan George
Life, love, and working together has created their happy marriage
Britain’s glamorous screen couple give their first interview to Hello!
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It will be six years this October since Susan George, star of Straw Dogs and two dozen other movies, married archetypal English actor Simon MacCorkindale in a secret wedding ceremony on the beautiful paradise isle of Fiji. But now, in their first ever interview together, this attractive couple talk candidly about their lives.
They also reveal how their relationship has been strengthened by their work together as die co- producers of their own thriving film company, Amy International (named after Susan’s role in Straw Dogs). Their second feature film, That Summer Of White Roses, in which Susan co-stars with Tom Conti and Rod Steiger, is due to be released on video on July 19.
Simon, who made his name in films like Death On The Nile and Jaws 3-D, went on to star in his own TV series, Mammal, and became a mainstay of the American soap, Falcon Crest. He is the son of an RAF officer, she the daughter of a saxophonist-turned-hotelier father and an ex-dancer mother.
Previously Susan spent four years apiece with American singer Jack Jones and subsequently with her manager, Derek Webster. Of her marriage to Simon she confesses: “I always wanted to be married, it was just I hadn’t met the right man and now I have.”
Says Simon: “Susie was like a breath of fresh air and I simply fell in love with her. I wouldn’t have married again (his first wife was Fiona Fullerton) if I didn’t think it was going to be for life, but I feel Susie and I have as much chance as any couple of going through a lifetime together. She’s taught me to play more and laugh more. She’s given me a sense of fun.”
They share that sense of fun at a fabulous riverside mansion in leafy Buckinghamshire where they invited HELLO! for this exclusive interview.
How long have you lived here?
Susan: “I’ve been here 17 years, long before I met Simon.”
Simon: “It’s everything to us. As we look around at other houses, as we do occasionally, we’re finding it very difficult to come across anything that is quite as idyllically placed as this property.”
What would be your dream house?
Susan: “Ideally we’d like a farm.”
Simon: “We’d breed anything that’s potentially a rare breed. I’d be rather fascinated to do that.”
Susan: “And I’d breed horses.”
Simon, Susan once said she was “highly undomesticated”. Is this still the case?
Simon: “I think it’s fair to say that she’s changed I would hardly call her domesticated in terms of what one might call the traditional housewife role, but I’d say she has become much more aware of all those things.”
Susan: “I can do everything now”
Simon: “I’m really the most domesticated between the two of us, probably because I spent such a long time as a bachelor ironing my own shirts and stuff I’m really very pernickety when it comes to cleaning the house.”
How many years have you now been together?
Susan: “We’ve actually been together since August 1982 ”
What’s been your happiest time during this period?
Susan: “Every time we’re on holiday is the happiest time.”
Simon: “Yes, when we have time just to be on our own. But those times seem to be getting increasingly rare now.”
What sort of people were you before you met one another, and how have you changed?
Simon: “I was probably a lot straighter, a lot stuffier and squarer. I certainly think I’ve loosened up a great deal since marrying Susie I’m more relaxed, though I’m still a pretty serious sort of chap.
“I was never really a night bird. Susan, I suppose, taught me how to party’. On the other hand, I taught her to be a bit more serious!”
Susan: “I’ve taught him to laugh a lot more I used to be a lot more carefree Long-term planning was not on my agenda Everything was moment by moment don’t worry about next week or even about tomorrow morning.”
Simon: “She taught me to be a party animal – and then went off parties'”
Susan: “There are times in your life when you go around doing a lot of searching without knowing that what you’re actually looking for is company and now I have it I’ve found my best friend in the world and I’ve married him.
“Now I want to spend time with him, and do things with him, in my own environment. I think I’m a much more private person than I ever was ”
You met each other at a charity function, though it was five years before you actually started dating. Simon, what do you most remember about that first meeting?
Simon: “It wasn’t a visual impression because I knew her from the screen. The thing that hit me was her openness and we just got on terrifically well. We became friends and went to the occasional dinner and parties as part of a group with our respective other halves at the time.”
Susan: “We became friends and were for a long time good friends, soul mates, but I’ll always remember when Simon shone for me for the first time. I met him in a restaurant in Los Angeles for dinner. He’d just been jogging and he was very lithe, his hair was slicked back and he was very brown, and for the first time I thought … well, there was this sensation of electricity, a spark.”
Why did you wait so long before marrying?
Susan: “I wanted to avoid the mistakes that I’d made in earlier relationships. I was too possessive. I’d give all of myself in a relationship and I expected the same in return, but this can also crush the very person you love.
“I’m a Leo, and to cage a lion is the worst thing you can do.
“I’ve learnt that if somebody wants to stay, he’ll stay. You can’t watch hawk-like over the man you love. In my marriage with Simon I expect freedom, therefore I have to give it.”
Did you find the idea of marriage was a pressure?
Susan: “It was an enormous pressure and I wondered whether it would ever become a reality. It was a pressure when Simon asked me to marry him, and I couldn’t say yes for months and months, because I always vowed that I’d say yes only once in my life.
“I then had a dreadful fear of my independence being taken away. Simon understood that fear and tried to convince me over and over again that that wouldn’t happen. And yet nobody could prove that but myself. So that’s why I vacillated so long before actually naming the day – and the wonderful thing is that far from feeling trapped, I now feel absolutely a free spirit.”
Simon, you once described Susan as one of the most moral people that you had ever met. What did you mean exactly?
Simon: “She is the most moral person I have ever met: basically her moral code of conduct has always been contrary to the image that had been painted in the newspapers. Susan’s nightlife was literally what it was: she loved to be out and people loved to be with her.”
Susan: “Simon, for his part, is truly an unbelievably good person. I don’t think he has a bad bone in his body, nor would he intentionally do harm to anybody at any time, for any reason.”
But didn’t you tell me, Susan, when we last met, that you both still flirt a bit?
Susan: “I think, in my case, that that’s part of being feminine.”
Simon: “It’s really an interaction between people.”
Susan: “I wouldn’t say I’m a tease, ever. My nature is gregarious and I am vulnerable in some respects, and that is attractive to some people. That isn’t being flirtatious, it’s being me. I’m very honest. What you see is what you get.”
Simon: “It’s a question of sexual confidence really. We’re both very confident people.”
How do you think you most differ as people?
Simon: “I’m a bit more fiery than she is. I do have a short fuse, but “I also reckon that that’s what keeps me alive.”
Susan: “He’ll walk away from confrontations and I won’t. There we’re very different.”
Simon: “Yes, I let off steam by walking up and down the garden. I’ll throw a hammer across the river – and then spend the next day worrying about how to get the hammer back!”
Susan: “We tend to think we’re like chalk and cheese, whereas in actual fact we’re coming to realise that we’re very alike We react very similarly to so many things Probably where we most differ is in my ability to relax I can shut off and lose myself and think of something completely different for several hours and Simon really canТt.”
Simon: “My problem is that I have too many things I want to achieve. So therefore doing something like just going out to prune the roses ceases to be a relaxation it becomes something I’ve got to get done.
“That’s something I’ve really got to sort out and find a solution to. I’m a natural achiever. I’ve always maintained that I’m much more likely to have a heart attack lying; on a beach trying desperately to relax than actually through running around the house trying to do 400 things.”
Any other areas of difference?
Simon: “We have slightly diverging tastes in music I absolutely adore opera. Susie is learning to enjoy it but hasn’t got a passion for it in the same way. She’d much rather go to a rock concert. I’d never actually been to a pop concert till I met Susie.”
Why did you decide to form Amy International and go into film production?
Susan: “We’re both very energetic human beings and we both believe in personal growth, never standing still. So put two individuals like that together and you get double growth It evolved really as an extension of ourselves and wanting to move into other wider, larger areas.”
Simon: “We’ve now made two feature films, Stealing Heaven and That Summer Of White Roses, and they’re there for anyone to look at. That in itself means that we’re off and running.”
You once said, Susan, that you always believed that at the end of the day you should close down and not take your work home with you.
Susan: “That’s right, and you’re going to ask if it happens now that I’m also a producer! No, at the moment I can’t shut off at the end of the day, but I hope that the day will come when it will once again become a reality.
“The problem is that we work long hours, often in different parts of the world. Take now for instance, Simon’s been away in Canada filming a television series and I haven’t seen him for 10 weeks.
Simon: “This is our first weekend together, Saturday and Sunday we did nothing but talk about Amy International, and now today, Monday, we’re doing this interview and shooting pictures for HELLO!; and tomorrow I fly to Paris. So when we’re together we simply can’t afford to shut off.”
Susan: “Eventually Amy will be big enough for us to pass it on to other people. We’ll then become the fielders in the cricket game and have the exciting bits and the fun of it and the creativity. Right now we’re having to do everything from the bricklaying to the very making of the cement.”
Do you think you’re compromising your personal life in the process?
Susan: “Yes. It’s a word I didn’t believe in – it wasn’t in my dictionary – when I last spoke to you. Compromise. It’s still not a word I like to use.”
Do you ever fear that by being producers you are also diluting your acting abilities?
Simon: “On the contrary, it’s quite the opposite for both of us. We’ve become much more conscious and supportive of everybody’s problems on the set.”
Has it been a help or a hindrance, as producers, being married to each other?
Susan: “The drawback is not being able to close the door at the end of the day. But I don’t think it’s held us back; it’s actually enhanced us. I think if only one of us was running this production company, if only one of us knew all the responsibility and the pain and the other one didn’t understand it, it would be dreadful.”
Simon: “At least we’re both fighting in the same corner, for the same aims.”
In an ideal world how would you both like to spend your lives?
Simon: “Very rich … and doing absolutely nothing!”
Susan: “That’s not true.”
Simon: “I’d very much like to write and direct. I’ve done a bit of it already and that’s what I came into the business to do, direct. I enjoy acting enormously, but I know that if I could replace it with directing I would – and I wouldn’t miss the acting ”
When we last spoke, Susan, and the subject of children came up, you said you wanted to start a family very much, but the timing had to be right Is that still the case?
Susan “Yes, it is.”
Are you ever afraid that the “right” timing might not in fact be right?
Simon: “No, never.”
Susan: “What will be will be. There is no fear at all. As far as we are concerned when the time is right the time is right. It’s something we feel is very personal.”
Is it true, Simon, that Susan cuts your hair?
Simon: “She has done. She so loves hair, she panics about it. She does the best job, actually, though she doesn’t like to do it in case.”
Susan: “It’s the pressure, you see, getting it right. I don’t need that. I’ve got too many things I’ve got to get right without cutting his hair! But I know how I like him to look.”
Simon: “She’ll take the risk when I’m about to bounce off the walls because my hair isn’t right, or because we’ve got a panic situation and I can’t get up to town.”
When you look ahead, what do you both see?
Simon: “I see the farm that we want, ideally on a river.”
Susan: “I can’t imagine not living next to water.”
Simon: “Ideally, we’ll be something of a family outside the Irish setters. I see myself seriously directing and writing I see more of the same, but much better.”
Susan: “I never used to plan things, but now I see a future and I have to pave a way for that. I see it as a family, as an entity, as something I am going to make and create and be able to pass on in my lifetime.”