Jerry Hall on Richmond, playing the wicked witch and a family Christmas
- Credit: Hakan Yazici
Jerry Hall is relishing the chance to play the Wicked Queen in her first panto, Snow White, at Richmond Theatre this month – and she’ll be bringing all the family, including her ex-husband Mick Jagger. As she prepares to tread the boards, here she reveals why she’s relishing a family Christmas in Surrey
She may be a supporter of many good causes, but Jerry Hall will be channelling her dark side this Christmas when she plays the Wicked Queen in this year’s panto offering at Richmond Theatre, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
“I’m playing an incredibly vain woman, which will be a stretch,” laughs Jerry, who is also a patron of the theatre. “I’ve been inspired by Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent and I’ve even got the same horns. My outfits are great – I look like a drag queen! And I’m hoping to get a good booing – then I know I’ll be doing it right.
“I’m so thrilled to be doing my first pantomime. I’ve been asked before, but declined because I had four children at home. Christmas was such a big thing, but now they’re getting older, I can do it. My ex-husband Mick [Jagger] and I always had a tradition of taking the children to see the pantomime at Richmond Theatre. We did it every year – even after we divorced – so this year he’s going to bring all the kids to see me in the show!”
Firmly rooted in the area, Jerry, 58, has lived on Richmond Hill for more than 20 years, and has a great affection for the town – particularly during the festive season.
“The minute I moved to Richmond, I decided I was never going to move,” she continues. “Richmond Park is so beautiful. We used to keep horses there and rode them along the river. It’s great fun walking along the Thames and I’m very lucky to have an amazing view of it from the house. I think the park is particularly lovely in winter when the trees are bare. The steam rises off the Thames when it’s icy and the views of the snowy hills are just stunning.”
While Jerry is looking forward to all the excitement of the next few weeks, she is very much a homebody these days and can’t wait to spend a quiet Christmas with the family. “I’ll get Christmas Day off, so it’ll be the six of us,” she says. “We always try to have Christmas together as a family. My son James is a great cook so for the last couple of years the kids have been doing Christmas. I set the table and get the crackers out and they do all the cooking. Mick fills the stockings. He does very good stockings!
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“I love Christmas at home and we always celebrate in the traditional way. I’ve been associated with the rock-star lifestyle for so long that people don’t realise I’m just a down-home girl who grew up on a farm. I like cooking and gardening, and I even keep chickens and grow my own organic veg.”
After a hectic life in the spotlight and a tumultuous period that witnessed her very public divorce from Mick, you sense that Jerry has turned a new corner, though she will forever be linked with the singer. She and Mick separated 16 years ago, but seem as close as ever and recently celebrated their eldest son James’s 29th birthday with his two sisters, Elizabeth, 30, and Georgia May, 22, and younger brother Gabriel, 16.
“We’re great friends and we’ve completely moved on,” says Jerry, who adds that they were all devastated by the suicide of his girlfriend, L’Wren Scott, earlier this year. “Mick is bright and funny, and tries very hard to keep up with the children. We had a friendly divorce, and that’s especially important if you have children.”
Besides, Jerry has found new love now – in the shape of distinguished scientist Professor Armand Leroi – after splitting with Australian property magnate Warwick Hemsley two years ago. Jerry met Armand, a New Zealand-born evolutionary biologist based at London’s prestigious Imperial College, through long-time family friend, playwright Tom Stoppard, in January.
“We met at a dinner with mutual friends. He’s a very elegant man – and very clever,” she smiles. Last spring, she took him to her hometown in Texas and, in the summer, he took her to his beloved Borneo rainforest. “I introduced him to country and western dancing, which he was very good at. Then we went hiking in the rainforest. It was wonderful. He knew the names of all the birds, frogs and snakes.”
She loves the idea of getting married again, but isn’t in any hurry. “Everyone wants to be happy, don’t they? But I’m not in a rush to get married or anything. I’ve had my children. But yes, he’s very, very lovely.”
Though Jerry is eight years his senior, you would never guess it. Her good genes and extraordinary bone structure have served her well. “If you sleep well, drink plenty of water and get fresh air and exercise, you’re going to look good – or as good as you can look. I’ve never liked going to the gym, but I do keep active. And I don’t drink much. That’s the big thing. Alcohol really messes up your life.”
She highlights her own hair and buys beauty products from health food shops. “I use Simple make-up remover and skin cream made from fish collagen,” she continues. “I’ll never have Botox or plastic surgery – it’s disgusting and grotesque. As for fashion, it’s not cool to look too fashionable. I always stick to the same classic look.”
You sense that family rather than fashion is what sustains her nowadays. While Elizabeth and Georgia May are continuing to thrive as hugely successful models, her son James and his band Turbogeist have just signed a major record deal, and her youngest, Gabriel, hopes to become a historian after excelling in his GCSEs.
“I feel so blessed,” she says. “I have lovely kids, Mick and I are great friends again and I’ve met a lovely new man. Performing in panto at Richmond Theatre will be the icing on the cake. It will be such a treat to tread the boards there.”
My favourite Surrey
Restaurants: I love Matsuba on Red Lion Street in Richmond, which offers a mix of Japanese and Korean cuisine, and Frere Jacques, a wonderful French brasserie on the river in Kingston where we celebrated the Rose Theatre’s first birthday. I mostly cook at home. Steak and chips and spaghetti bolognese are the kids’ favourites.
Places to shop: I like Matches, Joseph and Space NK for clothes and Dickens & Jones for make-up. I do my food shopping at M&S and Waitrose, and receive a weekly organic vegetable delivery from Riverford Organics.
View: Richmond Hill down to the river. The Prince’s Trust dug up broken paths and reseeded indigenous grasses and wild flowers, and I cut the opening ribbon with Sir David Attenborough, who lives around the corner.
Place to chill: Richmond Park again. We used to keep horses there, but mine developed arthritis so we keep him out in the country. Now, we’ve got old-fashioned Pashley bicycles with baskets instead.
Places to visit: The Rose Theatre in Kingston is always top of my list. I also love Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, which serves a delicious seasonal menu at its cafe and teahouse. Ham House and garden in Ham, with its sumptuous 17th century interiors and restored formal gardens, is also a must.