What would your 16-year-old self say to you now?
Well done! I wanted to be a vet but was no good at science. I left school at 15, so it was lucky I liked singing. I dreamt of being successful but never thought I’d achieve what I have.
Still in touch with John Travolta?
We’re very good friends.
What have you learnt about love and relationships?
Save the best ’til last!
When did you last forget what you went upstairs for?
Perfectionist or laissez faire?
I’m a neat freak, but I’m learning to let go a bit. Being more relaxed about things is a gift as you get older.
You describe yourself as a breast cancer thriver. How has experiencing the disease defined your life?
It helped get my priorities straight. I’m grateful for every new, healthy day. Now I want to help others get through it.
What single thing would make getting older easier?
I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. My only concession to getting a little older is that I like to have a cat-nap in the afternoon. After that, I can push on through anything.
Twitter: yes or no?
Of course! Not too much but, yes, I do.
Rather sing at the London Olympics’ opening ceremony or compete?
Oh, definitely compete – in tennis. It’s a wonderful game.
Two lessons life has taught you?
Live in the moment and enjoy it – you don’t know when it will end. Find something to be grateful for every day. It keeps a grip on reality.
Should the Queen step down as Australia’s Head of State?
No. She stands for tradition, which is lovely. I admire her for going out and about on nearly a daily basis. She’s wonderful.
What makes you laugh out loud?
I love to find the absurd in things. I laughed when I heard I had cancer, it was too absurd not to. I look for humour, even in sad occasions.
Do you tackle life’s heartaches head on?
The only way is through them – there is no way around them.
You play an outrageous mother of the bride in your new film. Do you plan to do the same at your daughter’s wedding?
I hope not!
What gets you on the dancefloor?
The Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar.
With whom would you most like to duet from today’s talent?
Last good deed for the planet?
We do a lot to help preserve the Amazon Rainforest. I’ve also planted 10,000 trees on my property in Australia and at my Gaia Retreat and Spa. Every guest plants a tree.
You’re about to bring out a cookbook. Give us one piece of nutritional advice.
Enjoy everything but eat in moderation. I’m eating less as I get older, but I’m attracted to anything green – veg and salads – and I always try to buy organic and local.
You’re as fresh as the day you captured our hearts as Sandy, but more lovely for the wisdom life’s triumphs and traumas have brought since then. To us, you’re 46.
For details of Olivia's cancer and wellness clinic visit http://www.oliviaappeal.com/
Read more about Oliva's career on IMDB
This interview was first published in the April 2012 issue of
. Subscribe to the print edition for more great articles delivered direct to you every month