Not only did I survive, but I thrived: Andie MacDowell

Not only did I survive, but I thrived: Andie MacDowell
Andie MacDowell at the 13th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival

Dubai - Andie MacDowell shares her thoughts on ageing, the highs and lows of her career and the strength ofmillennial girls, at diff

By Maan Jalal

Published: Sat 17 Dec 2016, 11:30 AM

Last updated: Wed 28 Dec 2016, 1:13 PM

Andie MacDowell's career didn't exactly start out how she planned. Her first film, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, wasn't the debut any actor would wish for themmselves. All her lines in the film were dubbed by Glenn Close when it was decided that her accent as an English women wasn't convincing enough for the role of Jane. The media at the time had a field day with this and MacDowell became the subject of a many pitiful headlines and cruel jokes. But from great pain comes great experience and for an actor, experience is the best tool at your disposal.

"I think it's part of who I am, it's my core," she told fans at the 13th edition of the Dubai Film Festival (DIFF), "I've had people tell me that I play vulnerable, that they can see that my characters are vulnerable. And I think it is part of my journey. My journey is understanding what it is to be vulnerable, I really understand the essence of what it is to be vulnerable. I know that feeling and so I use it as part of my instrument and I'm very comfortable with it."

MacDowell, looking effortless elegant, was very comfortable talking openly about the highs and lows of her career. From iconic movie roles such as Four Weddings and a Funeral with Hugh Grant, to her love of acting and the power of the millennial generation MacDowell, dazzled us all with her natural charm, honesty and steely motivation.

Despite her incredible commercial successes, it was the critically acclaimed, Sundance film festival winning independent film, Sex, Lies and Video Tape that brought MacDowell critical acclaim as an actress. Since then she has been a passionate advocate of independent films.

"When I first started making movies back in the day where it was really easy cause I was young and things would come to me very easily, I always chose to do an independent movie and then I would try and do a bigger studio film. Because the roles are often more interesting, the story lines are more interesting to me. People take more chances, I think you learn more from independent movies they are more complex in general; they feed you more."

MacDowell was very open about the devastating and rude welcoming she experienced during her debut film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.

"Years ago I didn't want to talk about it but now I don't care anymore. To me, it's actually more interesting to talk about it now then it used to be. When it all happened it was so devastating, the world had such a good time with it. I don't think that people are always very nice and if you make a fool of yourself they kind of enjoy it. What I think is more remarkable is that I recovered. I think that's the more interesting part of the story. Not only did I survive but I thrived. I went on to do remarkable things."

To say she thrived is understatement. However, the issue of rejection, of extreme lows in Hollywood, of even today at a time where the Internet could destroy an actor's career, how did MacDowell survive what to many would have been reason enough to hide away and never make a movie again?

"I decided this was going to be the fight I was going to take on. For me it became about two things. I was either going to quit or I was going to fight. I chose to fight. So I went to class and studied really hard. I just kept trying. But it was so hard to even get an audition, because people didn't even want to see me. I needed to believe in myself. I was so scared, I doubted myself. It's taken time for me to get over something like that. The enormity of that is unbelievable. Imagine having the world laugh at you. It's huge."

But, hang on, we have to ask, why wouldn't she stop acting? What motivated her to keep going, despite an almost ten year lull in her career. Well, it was simply about make believe.

"I love it I really do. I love the process. When I was a little girl I wanted to be an actress. That's what I wanted to be. My favourite game growing up was playing make believe. Then my mother took me to a play and I realized that there was actually a job where you play make believe. And to this day, the thrill is playing make believe. And you get paid! To me it fascinated me when you're on a set, you see all these weird people that end up in the business. They are the nerdy kind of weird kids that love make believe, they love stories, they love creating stories, you're all apart of it. Everybody is a part of it. It's fascinating."

It's no secret that actresses have it tougher in Hollywood. Their looks are always scrutinised and if you age, you're expected to understand that you won't be working as much. Some how this is supposed to be taken as fact. How much of that has changed though from MacDowell's time to today?

"It's fun to watch the millennials. Young women have a much more powerful way of seeing themselves, because they have progressed. When I turned 40 everyone asked me about turning 40 and not working. They don't ask men this. But women now are writing about it on Twitter, women are saying, well why don't you ask the guys that? We never even had the voice to say that. It was just the way it was. Men were allowed to get old women aren't allowed to get old that's just the way it is. I don't think the millennials are going to take that."

"I hear, I see them, I see what they are writing, I see what they are saying I see what they are asking and they are not my generation. They aren't going to be walked on. They are standing up for themselves, which is fantastic."
Sex Lies and Videotape
"To this day it's given a lot of credit for bringing attention to the Sundance Film Festival because it was so successful. The script at the time was an unusual script and a lot of people were afraid of it because of the subject matter. It was an interesting story and the great thing about it is that it's just about these people. It's not a lot of action, it's an in-depth story, it's a complex story about some confused people. And that's what's so interesting for an actress, to have complex character, to get to play, and I'd been waiting a long time to find a character that is this complex because they are hard to come by."
Four Weddings and a Funeral
"You know it's always about the script. When I read Four Weddings and a Funeral it was the perfect script. This was hard to find, it was a brilliant script. So it wasn't like it was a difficult choice I wasn't even thinking about Hugh, though even when they hired me I told them this is going to be easy, because Hugh is gorgeous."
Working with Hugh Grant
"Playing with him was so much fun. I still think about it that way, you play with them. I was playing with them, creating with them. It was a blast. It's so funny cause I just saw Hugh recently. To see him it's the same, it's the same Hugh that I knew back then. He used to torture me. At the time when I worked with Hugh, he didn't have any money. He was just a hard working actor and I had already more or less made it. He would torture me about things, because he had an old car and I reminded him of it when I saw him. His car door, could barely shut, it's changed now, just a little bit (laughs)."
The Best Review
"I did a movie with Diane Keating called Unsung Heroes. My son watched it which was interesting for me. Because he told me, 'It made me sad when she died' and that was probably the best compliment I've ever had in my career. Because he really didn't think of it as me and that's my son. He totally saw it as another person, so that to me was the best compliment that I could have ever been given. So I knew I'd gotten it right."

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