Once best known for her friendships with Rod Stewart, Jack Jones, Jimmy Connors and Prince Charles, Susan George — with husband Simon MacCorkindale — is now usually behind rather than in front of the cameras
Most people would be hard-pressed to name more than a handful of Susan George’s films. She may be famous, but stunning Susan isn’t all that happy with her career. “My capabilities are endless, and they’ve not been used,” she says.
She has recently been seen as regal Mrs Peacock in the whodunit show, Cluedo. The sexpot starlet of the ’70s, took the role for fun. But it turned out to be an ordeal: during filming, she fell and broke her foot, as well as bruising her face badly.
But Susan has always been a trouper. The 41-year-old actress went into showbusiness when she was four, and says: “I started my acting career so young that I’d done 11 TV plays before I was 14, as well as several children’s films.”
By the time she was 18, Susan was firmly established as one of the Swinging Sixties favourite starlets. At 21 she scored her first -and, to date, only — critical success opposite Dustin Hoffman in the controversial film Straw Dogs. Susan seems to have specialised in playing victims; she has been raped and abused on screen more times than she can recall. Yet in real life, she is very much in control of what goes on. Seven years ago, she married actor Simon MacCorkindale, after he had proposed “hundreds of times”.
“Even after I said yes, I still had a problem coming to grips with the commitment. Poor Simon, he went through a lot for me.” They are, she says, still blissfully happy, although she hasn’t yet achieved her ambition of becoming a mother, which she says is a high priority.
Susan and Simon got married in a very private ceremony on the island of Fiji, away from the prying cameras which have recorded her every romance.
Her love life was once so hectic that one newspaper published a “first eleven” of her boyfriends. Before marrying MacCorkindale, her longest relationship was with singer Jack Jones. They spent four years together, and she called him “the love of my life”. There were also flings with Rod Stewart, George Best, Michael Crawford and Jimmy Connors. But Susan’s most famous conquest was Prince Charles. Their romance ended when they were spotted by a photographer and, as marriage was out of the question, they parted.
With her acting career in the doldrums, Susan has turned to producing and, with her husband, formed Amy International. The company has made two films, Stealing Heaven and That Summer Of White Roses — neither of which has made much impact at the box office. Nonetheless, she has proved a tough businesswoman. Running a company with Simon, she admits, is hard work. “There are tempestuous times when he’s very strong-willed and so am I. I usually win. I’m a fighter, he’s a diplomat.”
Susan says her husband understands her need for independence and that their relationship brings her great happiness.
“I used to think if you loved somebody you needed to live in their pocket — but that isn’t the case,” she admits. “I’ve always been possessive and possessed. You’ve got to know you can be apart without looking elsewhere that means having great inner strength.”
Susan, still a glamorous woman, is small and delicate and looks years younger than she is. But she accepts that the passing of time will, inevitably, take its toll.
“I’m aware I have off days but I’m so happy because I don’t feel there’s any physical change, yet. I know it will happen, but it doesn’t worry me now.”
Still ambitious, she adds: “I do want to get to the top in movies. If I’m getting as much work as Joan Collins at 50, I’ll be happy.” But she admits she may be acknowledged as a movie star, rather than a glamour girl.
“However, I am an optimist,” she says. “When the ship has sunk and everyone’s gone, I’ll still be there saying: ‘It’ll be all right’.”