EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Legendary TOS Guest Star, Joan Collins
Joan Collins is now Dame Joan Collins, but to Star Trek fans worldwide she'll always be the actress who brought such warmth and humanity to Edith Keeler, the pivotal pacifist character at the center of "The City on the Edge of Forever." That brilliant, award-winning episode of Star Trek: The Original Series is widely regarded as not only the franchise's finest hour, but simply one of the best sci-fi stories ever told. An interview with Collins has been on StarTrek.com's wish list since the site was rebooted in 2010, and we're pleased to say that we can finally scratch her name off the list. Collins will be appearing at the Hollywood Show, in Los Angeles, this weekend -- click HERE for details -- where she'll sign autographs and pose for photos with fans. And, in advance of that event, she agreed to an interview in which she talked about "The City on the Edge of Forever," Dynasty, becoming Dame Joan, her books, beauty and skincare company, upcoming projects and more. Here's what she had to say...
Congratulations on your recent honor. What does it mean to you to now be Dame Joan Collins
COLLINS: It's wonderful. It's lovely. It's just about the highest honor that a woman can get in Britain. So it means a great deal to me.
You seem to be forever young and forever busy. Tell us about some of your current projects...
COLLINS: I'm in a series called The Royals that has just been picked up (by E! and will premiere in March). That's their first scripted series. I'm in another series called Benidorm in England, but people (in the United States) probably never have heard of it. I'm also working on writing books. And I have a very successful beauty and skincare line on QVC in Europe. It's in England and Germany and Italy, and I hope it's going to come to America. I'm totally hands-on with it. I've been involved with that for nearly four years, and with every single piece of it. We have a fantastic scent called I Am Woman. So I have to tell you, I am very busy.
You'll be at the Hollywood Show this weekend. How do you enjoy meeting the fans, signing autographs and posing for photos?
COLLINS: I enjoy meeting the fans. I enjoy signing the autographs. I'm not so thrilled about posing for the photographs, but it's part of the job.
Let's talk about Star Trek. By the time you shot "The City on the Edge of Forever" in February 1967, you'd already established yourself in America. You'd done The Bravados, Rally Round the Flag, The Road to Hong Kong and other feature films. So what led you to a one-off guest appearance on Star Trek?
COLLINS: My children. When I was asked to do Star Trek, I remember saying to my agent, "Well, what is Star Trek?" I'd never heard of it. When I told my children -- who were then about two and four -- that I'd been asked to do Star Trek, my daughter (who was the older child) jumped up and down and said, "Oh, mum, you must do it. It's a great show." So that's why I did it.
What intrigued you most about Keeler and about the episode's concept that this well-meaning woman had to die for millions of other people to live?
COLLINS: I really didn't think about it very much. I just read the script and I thought the script was very good. And I thought it was an interesting premise that this woman could have prevented a world war. So I just went ahead and did it.
What do you remember of the shoot itself? Of working with Shatner and Nimoy and Kelley?
COLLINS: It was fun. I did get to know Bill a little bit. We cross paths once in a while still. Years ago, at my first (Star Trek) convention, he introduced me (to the audience). I actually think that was the only convention I've ever done.
There's a shot of Keeler and Kirk walking in front of a barbershop. That was actually the Floyd's Barbershop storefront from The Andy Griffith Show, which filmed on the famous 40 Acres backlot, where you filmed portions of "The City on the Edge of Forever." Were you aware of that at the time? Has anyone ever pointed that out to you? Or is that too arcane a piece of Trek trivia?
COLLINS: I had no clue! (Laughs). As far as I was concerned, I was starting to do lots of television at that time. I did The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I did The Virginian. So I was doing quite a few shows and, as far as I was concerned, (Star Trek) really was just another gig.
At the end of the day, though, "The City on the Edge of Forever" ranks as one of Star Trek's best episodes ever...
COLLINS: ... I know.
How pleased are you to have been a part of that episode and, as a result, of the whole Star Trek phenomenon?
COLLINS: I am pleased. It's nice. But I didn't even have a clue at the time that we'd made a memorable episode. It was not until several years later.
The episode aired back in 1967. Have you seen it since it premiered?
COLLINS: I don't watch my older work. I'm not Gloria Swanson. (Laughs). But if it's on, sometimes I will take a look. But I don't exactly sit there and hunch over it and think, "Oh, my God."
When you're doing appearances like the one at the Hollywood Show, what do people want to talk with you about most? Is it Dynasty? Star Trek? Something else? Maybe something like Batman or Empire of the Ants?
COLLINS: It's mostly Dynasty. People mostly want to talk about Dynasty. Let's say that out of 10 people, 8 will want to talk about Dynasty, one will want to talk about Star Trek and another one will want to talk about other things. Some people talk to me about theater, because I've done a great deal of theater. I've been doing a one-woman show regularly, and I'll be doing that two or three times this year.
You have hundreds of film, stage and TV credits. What are you proudest of? Maybe credits most people haven't even seen?
COLLINS: Well, there are two movies that I did, independent films that you've probably never heard of. They didn't get a lot of attention. One is called Quest for Love, an English film (released in 1971). And the other is called Decadence, which is also a British film (released in 1994), that I did with (writer, director and co-star) Steven Berkoff. I would say that my performances in those films are the performances I'm most proud of. Then, again, I'd also say Dynasty. It's not easy to take a venal, vindictive character and make her extremely popular.
The Royals will debut in March and has already been renewed for a second season, before a single episode has even aired. Tell us about your character on the show...
COLLINS: It was only just announced last week. The show is a fictional account of the royal family. I'm playing the Grand Duchess of Oxford (the mother of Queen Helena, portrayed by Elizabeth Hurley).
Dame Joan will appear at The Hollywood Show on Saturday only. For those who can't make it to Los Angeles, be sure to visit the site -- at http://hollywoodshow.com/main.php -- for mail order options.