John James met Joan Collins back in 1981 when they both joined the cast of Dynasty. More than 30 years later, James, who considers the actress a friend, speaks admiringly of her years as an actress and her new status as a dame.

John James On Joan Collins

James attended the fete at the Friar’s Club last month that honored Collins and her new damehood. Reminiscing about the day he first encountered Collins on the Dynasty set, he recalled his anticipation when she started to approach him. Though he was hoping for some acting advice, what he got was a more valuable conversation that sealed their lasting friendship.

“I was all fired up and I was waiting there and she said something to me that I live by today, 34 years later. She leaned over to me and said, ‘How much money do you make?,’ James told uInterview in an exclusive interview. “That was my first conversation with Joan. And I said, ‘How much money do you make?’ And we’ve been friends ever since.”

On Dynasty, James played Jeff Colby, the nephew of Cecil Colby, played by Lloyd Bochner. Not playing a member of the more central Carrington family, James says, “I was just clawing for anything I could because I didn’t even have a father [on the show].” After walking in on Collins and Bochner filming the scene in which Cecil dies in bed, James thought it was the end of his time on the show. But, since Collins’ character was by then a Colby, James stayed and got more screen time with the future dame.

“If I had a scene with Joan I always knew I was in for something. I always knew it would be fun – a lot of energy and hang on to your hat because you didn’t know what she was going to do,” James said of working with Collins. “She was a perfectionist. If she didn’t like it she would demand a second take, which was great…. She really was interested in her character and cared about that, so I knew going in doing a scene with Joan it was going to be a good one.”

Joan Collins Talks Meeting Princess Diana

In recent years, Collins has spent less time acting and more time working with charities – including the Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – leading to Prince Charles presenting her with the appointment of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Asked whether Collins is more diva or dame, James said without hesitation she’s a dame.

“Oh, I think she’s more of a dame. You know, I mean you get typecast,” James told uInterview, before suggesting that people confuse her with her Dynasty character. “It’s like people believe the characters they played are actually themselves. No, she’s a good actress. She’s not at all like Alexis. She’s a caring mother, good businesswoman and she’s not anything like Alexis in real life.”

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Q: When did you first meet Joan Collins? -

The first time I met Joan was on the set in 1981, summer of 1981. The beginning of our second full season, and I was not a major player at the time. I was scratching for everything I could on the show and Joan was an established Hollywood star. And I remember she walked up to me, and I was studying my lines sitting out on the lawn of 20th Century Fox. She’d say good morning to me and she was always cordial. But she came over and she came over to me and she sat down and I thought, “My goodness, she’s gonna speak with me. Maybe I can get some advice about how to succeed in Hollywood – technique, about camera technique.” So, I was all fired up and I was waiting there and she said something to me that I live by today, 34 years later. She leaned over to me and said, “How much money do you make?” That was my first conversation with Joan. And I said, “How much money do you make?” And we’ve been friends ever since.

Q: What memories do you have from working with Joan on the show? -

If I had a scene with Joan I always knew I was in for something. I always knew it would be fun – a lot of energy and hang on to your hat because you didn’t know what she was going to do. She was a perfectionist. If she didn’t like it she would demand a second take, which was great. But yeah, she was a perfectionist. She really was interested in her character and cared about that, so I knew going in doing a scene with Joan it was going to be a good one.

Q: What was your favorite scene with her? -

It was the middle of the second season, and I played Jeff Colby, but the main characters were Blake Carrington played by John Forsythe, Linda Evans played Krystle Carrington. It was all Carrington family, but the Colbys were a smaller part, so I was just clawing for anything I could because I didn’t even have a father; I had an uncle. Uncle Cecil and Joan just came on the show, and she hooked up with my uncle. They had a closed set; it was just Joan and my uncle. Nobody was allowed on, but I said, “The hell with it, I’m going to go see what’s going on in there.” Well, to make a long story long, she screwed my uncle to death...in bed. And I thought, “That’s the end of me.” But, she became a Colby, she did marry him before she did that. So I got to stay.

Q: Do you think that Joan is more of a diva or a dame? -

Oh, I think she’s more of a dame. You know, I mean you get typecast. It’s like people believe the characters they played are actually themselves. No, she’s a good actress. She’s not at all like Alexis. She’s a caring mother, good businesswoman and she’s not anything like Alexis in real life.