Hayley Mills: My father was an inspiration to me, I was lucky to have him as a role model
Wild At Heart actress Hayley Mills, 65, lives in New York and London with her partner, actor Firdous Bamji. She has two sons — Crispian, from her first husband, the late film director Roy Boulting, and Jason, by actor Leigh Lawson. Here, she reveals a few of her favourite things…
Classic style: Hayley Mills has learnt it's worth spending on well-cut clothes
The whole acting thing happened accidentally for me. I didn't have early acting ambitions, but the opportunity arose to be in the movie Tiger Bay with my father (Sir John Mills) when I was 12, and I've acted ever since.
My father was an inspiration to me; I made a few movies with him and I loved working with him. Everything about him – his whole approach to work, as well as his love, enthusiasm and respect for it and other people in the business – was inspiring. I was very lucky to have him as a role model.
I live in jeans and own a lot of them. I'm much more comfortable in trousers and T-shirts and I don't often wear dresses. My favourite pair of jeans are by Armani and are a great cut. Since I've got older, I've realised the value of spending money on something that's well cut.
I absolutely adore being in the African bush when I film Wild At Heart. I don't think you can ever say you've 'been there and done that' no matter how many times you go.
Once you've seen the Eiffel Tower you've seen it, but the bush is always surprising and different. To be somewhere so vast and wild, with animals running around, is quite amazing. The skies, the mountains, the sunshine – it's so beautiful and peaceful.
I'm a vegetarian, but started eating fish again about 15 years ago. I had the most outstanding meal in Yucatan, Mexico, a few years ago – it was just a plate of grilled seafood, with garlic butter and lemon squeezed over the top. It was heaven. Especially as I was sitting on the beach surrounded by palm trees.
African adventure: Hayley with her Wild at Heart co-stars
I like solitary pursuits, such as reading or pottering about in the garden. But although I love gardening, I haven't had a garden for years, as I live in an apartment in New York and a little house in London, which has just a tiny patio. Roses are my favourite flower and my mum always grew a lot of them. My sister is brilliant at growing them, too, especially in the California sun where she lives. When I get a garden, I'll grow some.
I don't tend to have favourite animals, but Hamley the giraffe from Wild At Heart was a darling and so tame. He used to come and feed from the acacia tree outside my dressing room – he'd stick his head through my balcony and you could scratch his ears. He'd watch us filming and you could just tell he was thinking: 'This is marvellous!'
Role model: Hayley with her father Sir John Mills in the film Tiger Bay, which launched her acting career
Very sadly, he was struck by lightning and is buried at the gate where he fell. Everyone was heartbroken. But Lucy, another giraffe on set, is pregnant with his baby. That's very special.
I learnt to ride on polo horses and I had a pony when I was a child. It was one of those fat ponies that tries to bite your backside when you get on. I don't have a horse at the moment. I live quite close to Richmond Park and I go riding there sometimes. One day, perhaps I'll have a place in the country again so I can have a horse and that garden with roses.
Proud mum: The actress with her son Crispian
Both my sons Jason and Crispian live in England and my eldest son has just given me two grandsons, or his wife has! One of them is three and the other is six months and I don't want to miss too much when they're growing up. I can see the changes in just a couple of months – now his youngest is standing and his eyes are big blue saucers.
One of my favourite pieces of music is the theme tune for the 2004 film Ladies In Lavender composed by Nigel Hess and played by Joshua Bell.
It's beautiful and, as a result of that movie, I discovered Joshua and ever y thing he'd ever recorded. I just love the way he plays – it's very moving. It led me to other violinists, too, such as Nigel Kennedy.
Wild At Heart is on ITV1 on Sundays at 8.30pm.