You’re promoting Birds Eye peas again. What do you remember about being the face of the TV ads 40 years ago?
I have vivid memories. I did several adverts for Birds Eye; I started working with them at four-and-a-half until the age of 12. It was in the Seventies and in those days the young directors were doing commercials, then they went to the States and became massive movie directors. Adrian Lyne, who did Fatal Attraction was one, and Tony Scott, Ridley Scott. I worked with all these guys. It was an amazing thing to be working on.
You had an amazing start as a child actress working with Robert Redford on The Great Gatsby ...
Yes, then soon after that the Birds Eye thing happened. Then I went to Russia and did a film called The Blue Bird with Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Gardner. I lived in Russia for nearly a year, then came back and started working at the BBC and then the Royal Shakespeare Company. I've worked every year of my life since I was four. I wouldn't want that for my kids but for me it was an amazing opportunity. I came from a very poor background and I completely created this incredible life. It's been fantastic.
What are your memories of being a chart star with Eighth Wonder?
I love music and it was a great experience, but it was something that I was never going to become really good at. I couldn't really sing that well. Though I have a great passion for music, I knew I wasn't going to improve. We did some great things; we worked with the Pet Shop Boys, and had a couple of hit singles. I've acted my whole life and I've thought that's where I can grow and learn and hopefully become better.
Was it a culture shock working in Hollywood?
It was a big deal. I was flown over to the States by Disney when I was 13 or 14. I did Pollyanna for the Disney Channel, a remake of the Hayley Mills film. My dream was that it was going to be like the MGM studios, like those musicals, and it really wasn't. It was an industry town. Everyone works and nobody walks. It's grown massively over the last 20-odd years, but when I first went there it was very different to London.
How did you land a role in Lethal Weapon 2?
I was over there with the group actually, because the band were a success in the States. Marion Dougherty was one of the best casting directors in the world; she'd cast The Great Gatsby funnily enough. I got called in to read for Tim Burton for a role in the first Batman film, and as I was leaving Marion said: “You're not right for this, but there's something else you are absolutely right for." I turned up and there was Mel Gibson, Richard Donner the director, and Joel Silver, all sitting there. They asked me to cold read, and they said: "Okay. Can you get a costume and get fitted up? You start in six weeks." That was like something out of a Hollywood movie. It never happens like that. Normally you've got to go back, read and test and read again. That was a very unique situation.
What’s been your favourite project over the years?
All of them. From Emmerdale to Holby (City) to working with these huge, legendary film directors, and theatre jobs. I enjoy it all. It's what I've done my whole life. Every time I get a job I feel lucky; I can't believe it's happened. I never get jaded about it.
You’ve done Emmerdale and Holby City. Would you like to appear in another soap, maybe Coronation Street?
Wouldn't that be wonderful? The thing about continuing dramas is they're absolutely relentless. There's a lot to be said for working flat out for four months and having no life and juggling everything with your family and your children. I never say never. Who knows, maybe when the boys have grown up and left home. Something like that would be amazing again, but right now I need something a bit different.
Finally, are you happier as you get older?
The wonderful thing about being in your forties, is that the older you get the less you care about what people think about you, and that is such a liberating thing. Everything that has come my way in life, I see as a fantastic learning curve. I'm a very strong person but when I was in my twenties I cared too much about what people think. I missed some really exciting bits because I was too worried about other things. Now I really don't care, apart from what my kids think. My children's opinion is vital.
Patsy Kensit is fronting Birds Eye's Grow Your Own campaign, 65 years after its first pea harvest. Visit www.facebook.com/birdseye