See Jane Write
WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Lydie Denier, star of the "Tarzan" television series in the 1990s, takes up writing with her new book, 'Me, Jane... Not You!'
|Me, Jane... Not You! will be available for
download at magellanbooks.com in four
parts, the first of which you can find
starting Sept. 21, 2010.
You could say Lydie Denier was born to play the role of Jane, love interest of the fictional feral child-turned-jungle man Tarzan.
“I was a Tarzan fan my whole life,” says the French-born Denier, who moved to Laguna Beach seven months ago, after 25 years in West Hollywood. She spent her childhood in France climbing trees and playing in the tree house her uncle built for her.
“And who hasn’t dreamed of being kidnapped by a handsome jungle man?” she adds with a laugh.
Besides identifying with the fantasy and adventure of Tarzan, her exotic blue eyes and tan skin look as if they belong against the backdrop of a thick green jungle. Looking at her on a bright morning sitting at the rooftop bar of La Casa del Camino in Laguna Beach, it’s easy to see why Aaron Spelling handpicked her for the role on the "Tarzan" television series in 1991.
Opposite Wolf Larson as Tarzan, she filmed the series in Mexico over the following three years. The show was successful, syndicated in 87 countries, making Denier the record-holder for most screen time of any actress who has played Jane in both TV and film. The part led to more roles on the small screen, including spots on "Melrose Place," "Baywatch," "Spin City," and "Gilmore Girls." And she never dreamed the role she was meant to play would lead to a career as a writer – but her agent encouraged her to keep a diary, saying she might some day like to write a memoir.
“At the time I thought it was crazy,” says Denier. “I thought, ‘I’m an actress and model, not a writer.’ ”
But she dutifully kept the journal and when the show ended, she had a lot of material. It wasn’t until 2006 that she revisited the notes, finally turning them into a book. The result – Me, Jane... Not You! – available electronically through Magellan Books, recounts her childhood in France, early modeling career, her eventual move to Hollywood, and what it was like being Jane.
“It’s about surviving in Hollywood. And never giving up on your dream.”
It wasn’t easy turning pages of notes from nearly 10 years ago into a book, so she enlisted the help of a writing coach.
“He really kicked my butt,” she laughs. “'Lazy writing! You can do better than that!'” she says, recalling his critique.
But it wasn’t the writing that Denier found most difficult. Nor was it the language barrier (ever the quick learner, Denier mastered English in six months early in her acting career).
“Some things were tough to remember,” she says. “It was emotionally draining.”
Particularly the death of Sean Roberge, who played Roger Taft, Jr., Jane’s assistant on the show.
“He was like a little brother,” she says of Roberge, who was just 17 years old when he joined the cast of "Tarzan." “During the first season, he was shorter than me, the second season he was as tall as me and by the third season he was taller than me.”
When Roberge was killed in a car accident in 1996, Denier found it too painful to watch old "Tarzan" episodes, but revisited them for her book. She also connected with his family members, spending time with Roberge’s mother, who requested that she make copies of the pictures of her son Denier gathered as part of her research.
Although the process was long and hard, Denier is happy with the result and declares it a unique story only she can tell, as one might gather from the title.
“I was Jane,” she laughs. “Not you. This book, it’s me. Pure creation from page one to the last.”