Linda Evans never fully understood the reach of Dynasty until she arrived in the Australian outback. “I was doing a miniseries at a quite remote location,” she exclusively tells Closer Weekly, on newsstands now. “We got off the plane to refuel at this little airport with nothing but sand and huts. There wasn’t even a building. But all these people ran over shouting, ‘Krystle! Krystle!’ I thought, ‘Oh my God, they’re seeing us everywhere.’”

Few people have ever experienced the worldwide exposure that Linda and her Dynasty costars enjoyed during the show’s 1981 to 1989 run. “You have something that gives you this gift of being loved by the world. And there’s success, money and stardom — which everybody thinks is so important — but the biggest downside is that you lose your freedom,” Linda, 78, explains. “You have absolutely no privacy. That’s the price you pay.”

In the years since leaving Dynasty, Linda has recovered her personal life. Today, she makes her home in the Pacific Northwest, where she lives a largely private existence. She still acts occasionally and often travels to give talks on women’s topics. “I’m very content in my life,” Linda says. “Living up here has been a dream come true.”

Did you always plan to be an actress?

Not at all! In high school, my best friend was up for a commercial, and I went along to keep her company. The director came out and pointed at me. My father had just passed away, and my mom was on Social Security, so it was not possible to say no because the money was good.

Didn’t you meet your future Dynasty costar John Forsythe as a teenage actress?

Yes! They sent me out for [a sitcom] Bachelor Father, starring John. He gave me my first speaking part. I was 15.

Linda Evans, John Forsythe 'Dynasty' Photos

A few years later, you played Barbara Stanwyck’s daughter on Big Valley. What was she like?

She was just an exceptional human being. She mentored me and took me under her wing. When my mother passed, Barbara came over and said, ‘Audra’ — that was my character’s name, she never called me Linda — ‘Audra, I will never replace your mother, but I will be your mom now.’ And she really was there for me until she passed.

Did she teach you how to do stunts?

The biggest lesson she taught me was how to be professional, but she loved to do her own stunts. She’d be so excited. She’d say, ‘It’s runaway carriage day!’ Or ‘It’s the burning building day.’ She’d become like a little girl. She’d get so excited.

What else do you remember about your time on Big Valley?

It was an interesting time for me. I had married John Derek. He was a major actor for years, but didn’t want me to work — he only wanted me to work with him. So it was difficult. It was like having two separate lives. But the show itself was wonderful. I have been fortunate to only do TV series with wonderful people.

Which brings us to Dynasty!

I was almost 40, and bless [producer] Aaron Spelling because he chose me at my age instead of someone younger. And also Joan Collins at her age. He took a chance on two so-called older women. It was an absolute dream come true.

Did you and Joan get along?

We never had one personal fight in the nine years we did the show together. It was just that when the camera rolled, they wrote us to beat each other up.

Were those fight scenes fun to film?

Fight scenes are tricky because you have dialogue while all this activity is going on. But I was comfortable with stunts. Joan loves verbal confrontation, not physical, so it was more challenging for her, but she was a trouper. There were always a lot of laughs because it was so absurd.

Do you have a favorite Krystle and Alexis fight scene?

I think the lily pond was the most fun because it was a challenge. It was only four or five feet deep, so we had to be on our hands and knees to fight each other. It took an entire day to film but we had fun.

Who were you closest to in the cast?

John. He was just the most delightful, charming, beautiful human being. And he was married to an amazing woman, Julie. We got along so well. For years, we traveled all around the world together. Until he passed, we were very, very close friends.

'Dynasty' Cast Photos

You left the show a year before it ended. Was that hard?

The last three years of Dynasty, we were so successful that I had no days off. Not to knock it, because it was a gift from God, but I knew I wanted more out of my life. Still, I didn’t know the show was ending or I would have stuck out the last year. In fact, I hadn’t counted on the terrible withdrawal. After so many years in such closeness with everybody, it had become my family. I just went into such a sadness that I hadn’t counted on.

You’ve also recently begun acting again.

I’ve waited until I was 78 to start again, but I’ve never done anything normal in my life! When someone sends me a script, if it makes me curious and touches my heart, I’m in.

Tell us about the talks you have been giving to women.

It’s become my passion. I love talking to women on different subjects that I share with them. It’s just a joy. One of my talks is about loving yourself. How when you get older you need to let go of the unimportant things and focus on what’s important.

Do you mind aging?

I’ll tell you something, I would not be young again for anything! The wisdom we have is the most valuable thing. I would never do anything that would take back the mind that I have right now.

Are you dating?

No. And you know why? Because I am so happy. I never knew being alone could be so delightful. I’m rich because I have family and friends living all around me. My sister is on one side. My nephew is on the other. One of my dearest friends just moved one block away. We don’t have to have a man, to be happy — not that you couldn’t be with a man — but I’m just happy.

— Reporting by Lexi Ciccone