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18-YEAR AGE GAPIS NO PROBLEM: STARS.

Byline: ROZ LAWS TV Editor row.laws@trinitymirror.com

WHEN they got married, they said it would never last.

After all, he was 21 and she was 39. The 18-year age gap was bound to split them up, said the critics.

But more than 30 years later, the marriage of actors Maxwell Caulfield and Juliet Mills is as strong as ever.

And the proof is right there in the pudding, sitting in front of us.

Maxwell, 54, has just taken delivery of some banana bread, made by his 72-year-old wife and sent from California to England at great expense.

"It just arrived at the stage door of the theatre," he smiles. "I dread to think how much the parcel cost to send!

"She's very good to me, isn't she? She keeps me going.

"We miss each other hugely but we are blessed with a great relationship."

They may be thousands of miles apart, but it's clear that this couple are as close as ever, even if they're not acting together on stage as they did in their last play, Bedroom Farce.

Maxwell is playing studio boss RF Simpson in the glossy, witty musical Singin' In The Rain, which comes to Birmingham Hippodrome later this month. He shot to fame in Grease 2 alongside Michelle Pfeiffer before starring in Dynasty, Casualty and Emmerdale. away home my for hard, I'm to show brings much He usually uses an American accent in roles, as he does in Singin' In The Rain, but he was actually born in Derbyshire, and now he talks with a British accent with just a hint of Yank.

"I moved to the States at the age of 18 and was so busy trying to reinvent myself," he remembers. "I adopted a lot of American mannerisms and phrases - and then the penny dropped, that I should have stayed British.

"American women are crazy for an English accent! And at that time, British actors were making serious inroads into Hollywood.

"It was a bit obtuse of me not to realise that I should have made the most of my Britishness. My wife has never compromised her accent.

"But I guess I'm lucky now to work in both countries and able to do both accents."

He's even pretty good at picking up regional British dialects, lapsing into an impressive North Eastern accent after the company's time in Sunderland.

So how's his Brummie? He makes a fair stab at it.

"Well, I've never played it before, so I'm looking forward to getting to know the city and authenticating my Brummie accent. I know the cliche is very adenoidal, but I'm sure it's not like that really," he adds.

The tour takes him away from his Californian home for a whole year.

"I surprised myself by signing on the dotted line," he smiles ruefully. "Being away from home and my wife for that long is hard. I can't pop home for the weekend, but I'm happy to be in a show that brings so much joy to audiences.

"And it's hard to find good roles these days.

"Revenue streams are much more uncertain and salaries have been rolled back to pre-Dynasty levels. I'm earning less now than I did then, but the cost of living is so much greater.

"I was living a rich kid lifestyle on screen and off. But suddenly the series was pulled and you can't maintain that lifestyle. That's why all these old rockers are reuniting for tours - they have multiple wives to maintain!" He is touring in Britain's wettest weather for 250 years, and in a show where it rains on stage - twice a night.

But Maxwell is more worried about the other extreme of weather being suffered in California.

"It's in the throes of a very frightening drought. Normally verdant valleys are nothing but brown.

"We have been very profligate, growing crops like rice and cotton which we have no basis for.

"We had better wise up about this stuff. Industrialists are very shortsighted.

The scourge of the world are those markets which seek constant year-on-year growth at whatever cost."

Singin' In The Rain plays Bir-mingham Hippodrome from March 18 to April 5.

Being away from home and my wife for long is hard, but I'm happy to be in a show that brings so much joy.

CAPTION(S):

Maxwell Caulfield with his wife, Juliet Mills, and inset, in touring show Singin' in the Rain and alongside Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2014
Words:744
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