Andie MacDowell first graced the silver screen back in 1984 in Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Although her debut wasn’t hugely acclaimed, her breakthrough role in Sex, Lies, and Videotape in 1989 led to a string of successful films in the 1990s. MacDowell went on to star in popular movies such as Groundhog Day, Short Cuts, and, most famously, Four Weddings and a Funeral – solidifying her position as one of the popular actresses of the late 20th century. Here are 20 things you never knew about her.
20. Her mother was an alcoholic
MacDowell has always spoken openly about the difficulties she faced growing up with an alcoholic mother.
Speaking to the Guardian in 2019, MacDowell said that she and her mother “had a great relationship” and she “always felt loved,” but alcoholism complicated things.
“There was this old-fashioned can opener attached to the wall and she’d be in the kitchen drinking,” she recalled.
“And I’d clean the oil off the can opener and talk to her and ask: ‘Why do you drink?’”
MacDowell recalls that as a child, she would often get up in the middle of the night to check that her mother had stubbed out her cigarettes properly.
“There were burn marks all over the floor and on the couch; it’s amazing we didn’t burn down,” she said. “I think I’ve felt responsible all my life. But I’m good at it. I’ve been in training for a long time.”
19. She took a 75% cut in her fee for Four Weddings and a Funeral in exchange for a percentage of the profits – earning her around $3 million
When Four Weddings and a Funeral was released in 1994, it was something of an unexpected success.
Made in six weeks with a budget of £3 million, nobody expected the film to become the cult classic that it is today.
The film was even the highest-grossing British film in history at the time, with worldwide box office profits reaching over $245.7 million.
Because nobody expected the film to be so popular, most of the cast asked for a fee rather than percentage points.
The supporting cast members were paid £17,500 each while Hugh Grant took home a measly £40,000.
MacDowell took a risk in deciding to take a 75% cut in her fee in exchange for a percentage of the film’s profits – but it paid off and she walked away with around $3 million.
18. She was dubbed by Glenn Close in her very first film
MacDowell really made a career breakthrough with Sex, Lies and Videotape – but this wasn’t her first film.
MacDowell made her silver screen debut in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, where she stars as Jane, the noblewoman who falls in love with Tarzan.
While in principle getting cast as a lead in her debut film sounds like a dream come true, that was far from the case.
After shooting wrapped, producers decided that her Southern American accent wasn’t right for the role and got Glenn Close to dub over all her lines.
She told Movieline in 1996: “I didn’t deceive myself for one minute about what the media was going to do with it or what people in the business were going to think.”
“I said to myself, ‘Either I jump out that window out of humiliation and embarrassment or I fight.’ The choice was there: die or fight.”
17. One line in Groundhog Day was changed because of her Southern accent
Greystoke wasn’t the only time MacDowell ran into problems due to her strong Southern accent.
The actress had to convince Groundhog Day director Harold Ramis to let her voice Rita with her natural Southern accent.
But this meant that a small adjustment had to be made to the script to account for her unusual voice.
Rita was supposed to say “Oh, let’s not ruin it” in response to insurance salesman Ned’s proposal of a three-person celebration.
But Ramis felt MacDowell’s pronunciation of “ruin” would be hard for some viewers to understand.
In the end, the line was slightly tweaked and changed to “oh, let’s not spoil it.”
16. She almost lost out on the role of Carrie in Four Weddings and a Funeral
It’s fair to say that Four Weddings and a Funeral would not have been quite the same without MacDowell starring as Carrie.
But this was a distinct possibility in the film’s early stages, as Jeanne Tripplehorn was originally cast in the role.
Tripplehorn then had to drop out after her mother’s tragic, unexpected death. Marisa Tomei was then lined up to replace Tripplehorn.
But she was reluctant to accept as she didn’t want to spend a lot of time away from New York as her grandfather was ill.
Sarah Jessica Parker was also in the running and was even said to be Richard Curtis’ preferred choice.
But eventually, MacDowell was cast in the role – and thankfully so, as it’s hard to imagine what the film would have been like without her!
15. She hates the word ‘cougar’
In an interview with the Guardian in 2015, MacDowell revealed how she feels about women being labelled as ‘cougars’ for dating younger men.
“Hmm hmm,” she began when asked if she thought her character in Magic Mike XXL could be described as a cougar.
“I guess so, I think it’s unfair that we don’t have a male equivalent. There was a cougar line; I took it out.”
“I didn’t wanna say it,” she revealed. “I have a problem with the word […] I just think it’s unnecessary.”
“It’s demeaning. I think the idea that men get more handsome and sexier as they get older is a fallacy.”
“There’s no difference. We’re the same. It was a way to empower men and disempower women,” she continued. “And that’s changing, because if I wanna date someone that’s 20 years younger than me, I can do that now.”
14. She lives next door to her daughters Rainey and Margaret
MacDowell is exceptionally close to her two daughters Margaret and Rainey Qualley – both of whom have followed their mother into the film industry.
They’re so close that both daughters live in a house purposely built next-door to MacDowell’s own home in the Hollywood Hills.
In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2020, the actress revealed that it was a long-time dream of hers to live next door to her daughters.
MacDowell also opened up about their experience of living as neighbours through lockdown in 2020.
“I think it became too much during COVID. I was over-mothering them. I was taking them vegetables every day. It felt like they had no boundaries,” she revealed.
“But the idea was really good: They traveled, I traveled, we would watch each other’s houses. I didn’t do anything bad—I just did too much good, that was all. They need that separation.”
13. She made her daughters wait until they were 18 before allowing them to pursue acting
While some actors start young and get involved in the entertainment industry as children, MacDowell first appeared on the big screen when she was 26.
MacDowell’s daughters, Rainey and Margaret, both wanted to get into acting young – but their mother forbade them.
“It’s funny; everyone says that like there’s some fear of being in this business, but it’s actually a really good business,” she revealed in an interview with the Guardian in 2019.
“[But] I just didn’t want them to do it as children. Rainey was asking me at 14. I was like: ‘At 18, if you want to, you can.’”
In another interview with Town and Country, MacDowell revealed that she purposely raised her kids outside of Hollywood (first in Montana and then in North Carolina.)
She also would ask directors if she could remove unnecessary expletives from her film scripts in case her children saw her swear on screen.
12. She’s L’Oréal’s longest-serving spokesmodel
MacDowell is not only an accomplished actress – she’s also a successful model and has worked with brands like Calvin Klein and L’Oréal.
Notably, she’s L’Oréal’s longest-serving spokesmodel, and has been working with the brand since she signed to them in 1986.
MacDowell spoke about her respect for the brand in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar in 2018.
“When I first signed to L’Oréal I found out I was pregnant and I was so afraid they were going to drop me, but they didn’t, so I had a lot of admiration for that.”
“Then I continued to work with them through every pregnancy and I even shot a commercial eight months pregnant which was funny, and I worked right after having babies,” she continued.
“I’ve watched them embrace diversity and support women of my age to tell them that there’s no time limit on beauty.”
11. She was injured twice on the set of Ready Or Not
Andie MacDowell rolled with the punches while shooting horror film Ready or Not – literally.
While rehearsing a fight scene, MacDowell ended up receiving a blow to the face from Samara Weaving, her on-screen daughter-in-law.
Weaving later revealed on podcast The Big Ticket that she was convinced she’d get fired from the production after the incident.
But fortunately, MacDowell took it in her stride and assured everyone that she was fine.
This wasn’t the only injury MacDowell received while working on Ready or Not. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2019, MacDowell revealed that she also hurt her back just as shooting commenced.
“Right when I started the movie, I pulled out my back and I didn’t really want to tell anybody,” she confessed. “It was frickin’ killing me. I’d like to take credit for the fact that she walks kind of funny, […] but part of me thinks it’s also because my back was killing me!”
10. She turned down the role of Sarah Tobias in The Accused
1988 film The Accused sees Jodie Foster star as Sarah Tobias, a waitress who is gang-raped at a bar.
The film explores many important themes, including classism, rape culture, misogyny, victim-blaming, empowerment, and PTSD.
It was rightly showered in praise for its sensitive handling of delicate topics and was nominated for many awards.
Foster went on to win an Oscar for her portrayal of Sarah, as well as a Golden Globe and a National Society of Film Critics Award.
Interestingly, Foster was never the frontrunner for the role, despite her the success of her performance.
Many actresses were offered the role of Sarah, including Kim Basinger, Demi Moore, Meg Tilly, and Andie MacDowell – but it’s likely they rejected the part due to the film’s controversial themes.
9. She was once rumoured to be Charlie Chaplin’s illegitimate daughter
In an interview with Vulture in 2019, MacDowell was asked what was the “craziest thing” she’d read about herself in a tabloid
Her response? “Oh, that’s easy. I am the illegitimate daughter of Charlie Chaplin. Isn’t that weird?”
MacDowell went on to reveal that the false allegation first appeared in a South American newspaper.
“I found the clipping again the other day, on my computer. I don’t know how the hell that happened. My mother is in South Carolina, and Charlie is traveling through?” she joked.
MacDowell went on to work with Chaplin’s daughter in 2008 – but didn’t mention the rumour to her.
“I worked with Geraldine [Chaplin] on something [2008 film Inconceivable], and I never mentioned it to her. But I wondered if she’d ever seen it. If she looked at me and went, “Oh my god, are you related to me?” I should have asked.”
8. She got in with the wrong crowd at the beginning of her career
Back in 1979, Andie MacDowell moved to New York to embark on her modelling career.
MacDowell, then 21, had just been signed by the Elite model agency and was making her mark on the modelling scene.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing. Speaking to the Guardian in 2019, MacDowell revealed that she got in with the wrong crowd when she moved to New York.
“I had a small experience [with drugs] at the very beginning and hated it. I hated it!” she said in the interview.
“It was only, like, a month. I really didn’t like the way it felt. It didn’t make me feel good and I couldn’t sleep.”
“I actually went into my agency and said I wanted to go home, and they said: ‘You need new friends. You’re around the wrong people.’”
7. One of her first jobs was working with her mother at McDonald’s
Before MacDowell was a model or an actress, she worked at fast-food chains Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.
“I didn’t grow up wealthy,” she said in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2020.
“I worked at McDonald’s when I was in high school and had to make my own money.”
In an interview with the Guardian in 2018 she revealed that she did this job alongside her alcoholic mother. “We ended up working at McDonald’s together when I was 16.”
“One day I was driving her in and thinking: “She’s not quite sober, but I think she’s sober enough,” she said.
“And she got fired. I asked them to give the job back, but they wouldn’t, so I quit. It was her last job.”
6. She feels as though she’s had less luck with roles since turning 40
Unfortunately, many women in Hollywood have found that it’s harder to land good roles after turning 40.
Although Andie MacDowell is certainly no less dazzling than she was at 40, she too has found it difficult to get interesting parts.
“There was just a lack of interesting characters,” she told the Guardian back in 2019.
“You’ve heard every woman say it, because it’s the truth. We’re a very youth-oriented culture.”
“In most movies, the leads are in their 30s and a great leading role for a mature woman is hard to come by.”
She continued: “I have felt lulls. Since I was 40, I have felt particular lulls! I’ve been struggling since I was 40.”
5. She’s keen for the modelling industry to be more diverse
MacDowell has been in the modelling industry for years now with a partnership with L’Oréal that has spanned three decades.
As someone that knows the industry inside and out, MacDowell strongly believes that the modelling world needs to be far more diverse.
“Some women are naturally thin,” she said in an interview with The Independent in 2011.
“But there needs to be an appreciation for a variety of types of women because we don’t all come in one package.”
“We’re not pre-destined to all be a size six. It’s very hard for a large group of women to maintain a thinness which is after all only natural to a few people.”
She continued: “People panic if you have a little belly or a curve. We cannot be just skin and bones. Women become women. That’s what happens when you become a woman – you get hips and breasts.”
4. She gained weight for her role in Shadrach
Back in 1998 MacDowell starred as Trixie alongside Harvey Keitel in the American film Shadrach.
The film saw MacDowell play the role of a mother of seven children living on a farm in the middle of Virginia.
While MacDowell was occasionally required to lose weight for parts, unusually, in Shadrach, she was asked to gain weight.
“They were going to pad me but I told them not to,” she recalled in an interview with the Independent in 2011.
“I just ate everything I wanted to eat and relaxed and didn’t hold my stomach in and slouched a little bit.”
“My character was the kind of person who drinks beer for breakfast. She has seven kids – it was fun to play!”
3. She loves staying active
Andie MacDowell may be 63 now, but she’s still keen to keep active and stay fit and healthy.
Speaking to People in 2019, MacDowell said that she felt as though exercise was “in [her] DNA.”
“I’m driven to exercise. I love hot yoga or I’ll go to a spin class. I get high off of it,” she said.
“If I don’t do it, I miss the endorphins and the chemical part of it,” she continued.
She added: “Walking in nature really helps balance your cortisol levels, which can help you with your sleep.”
“If you’re stressed out, your cortisol levels get all wonky, and then you’ll have anxiety and won’t be able to sleep. That has happened to me, so that’s why I try to hike a lot.”
2. She featured in BBC sitcom Cuckoo
BBC sitcom Cuckoo follows the Lichfield-based Thompson family as various Americans try and disturb their family unit.
In the show’s first season, the eponymous American ‘Cuckoo’ was played by SNL star Andy Samberg.
Then in the following seasons the role of the Cuckoo was taken over by Twilight actor Taylor Lautner.
Then in the show’s fifth season, Andie MacDowell joined the cast as ‘Ivy,’ Ken Thompson’s long lost sister.
Damian Kavanagh, Controller of BBC Three said of the casting: “We’re delighted that Andie MacDowell has joined the cast of Cuckoo for Series 5.”
“Following Taylor’s hugely popular stint on the show, Andie brings a different flavour to the show and it’s incredibly exciting to see a talent of her calibre joining the brilliant existing cast for what will be another memorable slice of life with the Thompson family in Lichfield.”
1. She turned down a role in 9 1/2 Weeks because she was afraid to “be too provocative”
MacDowell revealed in a 2015 interview with The Guardian that she turned down certain roles early on in her career because she was afraid of coming across as too sexualised.
“It’s kind of late in the day to be really provocative, but now I would do it. I’m sad that I didn’t take more chances […] There were some sexual roles I could have definitely fought for, at least,” she said.
Adrian Lyne’s 9½ Weeks was one of these – and MacDowell regrets it to this day. “Now, in hindsight, if I could just tell my younger self to go in and fight for it. I didn’t even go in!”
She went on to say that she felt empathy with her Sex, Lies and Videotape character Ann Bishop Mullany due to her sheltered upbringing.
“I grew up in a culture where to be sexual was dirty,” she said. “And I was also afraid of embarrassing my children.”
“I was so afraid what people would say about me in my community,” she continued. “This was my way of thinking because I grew up around that kind of pressure, of purity.”