Actress Andie MacDowell

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Actress previews her characterizations in two Lifetime TV films based on books by best-selling author Patricia Cornwell.

Andie MacDowell's now-famous Southern drawl was dubbed out of her first film, '84's Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Today, the South Carolina native is sought after for her accent—she was the voice of Etta the Hen in '06's animated feature Barnyard. MacDowell rose to fame in the '90s, starring in hits like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Green Card. She left her base, far from Hollywood in the North Carolina hills, to star in her latest projects—two Lifetime movie adaptations of Patricia Cornwell crime novels.


Tavis: Pleased to welcome Andie MacDowell to this program. The star of so many notable films can be seen this Saturday night on the Lifetime television premier of The Front. The film is based on the popular novel by Patricia Cornwell. Here now a scene from The Front.
Tavis: Had you read Cornwell’s stuff before you decided to play this?
Andie MacDowell: Actually, I had met her because she was raised in Black Mountain not far from where I lived. I had met her a while back.
Tavis: It must be cool, though. I mean, she doesn’t let her stuff – I mean, up until now at least – let her stuff be turned into movies.
MacDowell: It hasn’t been, yeah. Lifetime bought the rights to her work, so hopefully we’ll get to see more of her stuff. You know, she’s such a great writer. Her characters are really interesting and very complex.
Tavis: This happens, of course, in this business all the time, but to your mind, at least where her work is concerned, what makes it good fodder for television material, Cornwell’s work, that is?
MacDowell: Well, you know, people love that whole genre, the whole murder mystery, that sort of suspenseful stuff. I think it’s a great genre for television and her characters are really interesting. I mean, for me, it was fascinating because not very often do you get to see a woman that gets to do all the things that my character gets to do.
I mean, normally it’s a man that gets to – you know, I get to sleep with young men, I’m very, very narcissistic, I’m a politician. I’m a very, very powerful woman and those kind of characters just don’t come by every day. But I believe Patricia really doesn’t limit her women in any way. A very modern approach to characters.
Tavis: I mean, obviously, you are a fine thespian, but to your point now about the kinds of female characters that Cornwell will write, this is fun for you to do or challenging in the sense that it takes you, Andie MacDowell, out of her comfort zone?
MacDowell: I would say it was definitely not normal. I’m not like this person. She’s so comfortable with her sexuality. The first night I worked on this, I had to – it was three o’clock in the morning, so we worked nights – I had to take my shirt off and my bra and sort of like really admire myself in the mirror while this kid was filming me.
You know, I was just saying hello to the guys on the set that day and then I had to walk in like, “Hello, here they are.” (Laughter)That was, you know, a little uncomfortable. As it went on, I became more and more comfortable because each day I had to be this person I started to get into it, so it was a lot more fun. So by the end of it, I was actually kind of fine. It was fun (laughter).
Tavis: I’ll let you tell me more about the character you play, but she’s a – my words, not yours – a pretty colorful and complex DA.
MacDowell: Yes, definitely. I know it’s interesting because we had a little premier in New York and I got to hear – it’s always nice when you get to hear how the audience reacts to it, and they really got the humor behind her wickedness. They enjoyed just how bad she really was.
I mean, there was some laughter and that was fantastic because nothing brings me more pleasure than to make people laugh. They were actually laughing at just how bad she really is.
Tavis: To your point now, I mean, every actor has his or her own process. Where your work is concerned, what’s your process? Once you do it, you want to see it, you don’t want to see it, you want to see it with other people? What’s your process?
MacDowell: I would much rather see it with an audience.
Tavis: Right.
MacDowell: Because I can’t really pass judgment on myself. I’m going to sit there and criticize myself regardless. I will be looking at all the details and analyzing it. But if you can hear it with an audience, you have that feedback that’s real, you know, that’s real. Then you go, okay, this worked and it was great.
Tavis: At this point in your career, speaking of this particular character, you like looking for stuff? You like stuff that comes across your desk that really puts you outside of stuff that people –
MacDowell: – yeah. I think the one thing I am enjoying about where I am now is the opportunity to get to play characters because it’s no longer about – I think for me, when I was in my 30s, everybody was always thinking about how I looked and now I get to kind of take that away and I can be all kinds of things.
I can be darker, I can be older, I can be all these wonderful rich things just because of the sheer fact of my age. It’s a bonus finally. So it’s nice. It’s a nice time. I get to be really good characters now.
Tavis: Breaking news for Andie MacDowell. There’s still a whole bunch of us who look at her because of how she looks (laughter), so you ain’t aging that fast.
MacDowell: (Laughter) I appreciate that. It kind of cracks me up when people say I’m hot because I just think that that’s a term that I don’t have to deal with anymore. But, of course, you know, all of us – even though how old we get, I think women will want to feel beautiful and glamorous.
Tavis: That raises for me, at least, a fascinating question. I think you’re right. I don’t speak for women, but I think most women want to be admired or thought of as attractive or beautiful no matter what age. I think that’s fair to say.
MacDowell: We always have that sensitive side of ourselves, that we want to be seen as beautiful.
Tavis: But the flip side of that, though, is – particularly for someone like you who is as gorgeous as you are, whose been known for her beauty, whose been a model and L’Oreal and all that stuff – strange question: does it ever become a negative?
Does it ever become something that you have to get around or to get other folk in this town to get around that let you do other stuff?
MacDowell: You know, really my perspective has changed so much. I love being an advocate for women as we get older so that we can feel comfortable with ourselves. It’s all about being healthy for me now. Really it’s like a weight has been taken off because it’s not so much about really wanting to be hot.
I mean, I think it’s great when I hear someone say it. I think it’s kind of comical and, of course, there’s going to be that piece of me even when I’m 70, I’m sure I’m going to appreciate it. But really, I want to be strong. That’s more important to me. I want to be healthy.
Tavis: When you look back – to your point now, you know, about getting older which, I guess, beats the alternative. We could be dead. I like the alternative of getting older, more chronologically gifted, as my grandmother would say.
MacDowell: It’s also what you’re doing is you’re getting older too. I mean, I still want to do great things, but anyway –
Tavis: – no, no. I want to come back to that.
MacDowell: I messed up your thought.
Tavis: No, no. There are two things I’m trying to get out at the same time. How about taking them one at a time? Slow down, Tavis. The first question is, as you look back now, given that you are getting older, look back on your body of work, you’re happy with the way this career has taken shape, the acting part of it?
MacDowell: Yes. I think the thing that I have going for me is that I am happy to work. I want to be creative and I am comfortable in the fact the one thing that I can do is I can reflect on what I have done and say, “You know what? I feel really good about what I’ve achieved” because I had so many. I had a whole bunch of very successful movies. I have worked with some incredible people, incredible. Altman. I mean, I did, you know, Shortcuts. You know, my body of work stands for itself.
I can sit and I can say, okay, you know, I’ve done some great work. I’ve had some really big hits with Groundhog Day and Michael, Multiplicity, Four Weddings and a Funeral. I mean, all this. I say, okay, what do I really have to prove? Do I really need to prove anything to anybody? I don’t feel that I have to prove anything. The only thing that I have to prove is to myself, that I have value.
There are great characters. I don’t care if it’s two days on something. If I can look at a character and say that’s going to be fun, that’s what I want to do. I want to continue to work and work with great people and just be creative, have that energy to be creative. I don’t feel like I have to be some big superstar.
Tavis: That’s the second issue I was going to raise, to your point about what you’re doing with the time that you have and how you’re advancing your career. At this point, you can look back in the rearview mirror and see what you’ve done in the body of work so far.
MacDowell: Right.
Tavis: Is there stuff now for the second half of your life?
MacDowell: I want to play some really good interesting crazy characters. I want to take some chances. I want to take risks. I want to have fun and just keep working. That’s all I really care about.
Tavis: Well, I think Andie MacDowell will keep doing that. It’s called The Front. It’s on Lifetime. It stars one Andie MacDowell. Andie, good to have you on the program.
MacDowell: Thank you, thank you.

Tavis: Good to see you.

Last modified: April 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm