Leap of faith

The Sunday Express
Published Date:
23 November 2008

By Brigit Grant

It's no surprise Lindsay Wagner wants to save the world - it's what you'd expect from the Bionic Woman. More than thirty years have passed since the actress stood up to Fembot androids and rescued helpless victims from deranged nuclear scientists, but the 59 year old is still fighting other people's battles - albeit without the powerful right arm, amplified hearing and supernaturally speedy legs.

Though Lindsay's the first to admit a bionic ear would be a great way to get gossip, there's no call for high-tech gadgetry in her work as a counsellor and spiritual healer. But while its tempting to scoff at some of the psychobabble used in Lindsay's line of work, it's hard to stay cynical when you hear she's devoting her time to problem teens and prisoners, particularly those serving time for domestic violence - a cause close to the actress's heart.

"People think that the men who commit these crimes will never change, but that isn't true," says Lindsay. "When you focus on the good in someone, they begin to believe in it themelves. My step-father had a violent temper and I became very good at handling crisis - too good. I began to bottle up my emotions. By the time I was 14 I had chronic ulcers. I was eating myself up with the things I was afraid to let people see. I've since learnt that it's possible to change your perspective on anything in life. I no longer resent my step-father because resentment limits you.

It is no coincidence that much of Lindsays work as a counsellor mirrors the controversial themes of the films (once the actress stopped being Bionic, she went on to be something of a TV movie queen, starring in films that tackled taboo issues, from child abuse to the environment). But Lindsay is critical of today's TV which she believes is pitched to "the lowest common denominator" and admits she was disappointed with the recent remake of the Bionic Woman series starring British actress, Michelle Ryan.

“It wasn't the fault of the actors. They could only work with what they were given, but it was just like everything else on TV, aggressive and violent."

Fans of the Bionic Woman have been known to turn up at her “ Quiet the Mind, Open the Heart ” workshops in the States, but she isn't there to sign autographs. The very fact our 30-minute interview slot turns into a passionate two-hour discussion about her new career leaves you in little doubt that she is not interested in any navel-gazing.

Although she still does some acting and has scriptwriting ambitions, Lindsay prefers to steer clear of the showbiz crowd, opting instead to dine with her doctor and psychologist friends. And she couldn't care less about image.

“When you live in LA it triggers your issues about vanity," says the star, looking elegant in a blue woollen trouser suit and minimal make-up. "But you don't have to succumb to them. I actually find it harder to be a vegetarian in Los Angeles than not have a face lift.”

It's a curious kind of logic, but there are lots of unusual things about Lindsay. Like the fact that she carries her own supply of liquorice teabags wherever she goes and that she's left sunny California to lead a three-day workshop in Cleveland for full-time carers of disabled children - even though she sees her first time with a British audience as a real challenge.

“I know that British people tend to be more insular and private, but I have set up the programme so sensitive issues can be dealt with anonymously," she explains. "Hopefully everyone will be a lot less sceptical when they leave.”




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