Leading lady

Even with a new hit on the horizon in Groundhog Day, Andie MacDowell likes to hold Hollywood at a distance. Andrew Pulver met her to discuss her career.

Plucked in l982 from the brittle world of the supermodel to make her cinema debut in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan. Andie MacDowell is finally getting used to the pressures of movie-stardom. ‘l‘m starting to feel more comfortable with being someone who‘s known.‘ she says. ‘even though a lot ofthe time i don‘t feel as if i atn. It's because i separate myself from Hollywood. and then I get in odd situations one week I‘ll be cleaning up. looking

after my kids and the next I‘ll be in LA. with all the paparazzi yelling my name.‘

Her success has been more hard-won than some. . She exudes a caginess. a reluctance to bask in the I limelight. which seems to spring from a combination ! of natural reserve and a traumatic Hollywood apprenticeship. Originally spotted by Greystoke director Hugh Hudson in a Calvin Klein jeans commercial. she was cast (as Christopher Lambert‘s love interest) in a role for which she was patently unsuited. After considerable publicity over her selection. MacDowell suffered the indignity of having her lines dubbed by Glenn Close. when Hudson decided that her distinctive Southern drawl wasn’t appropriate.

‘Right after Greystoke was the hardest period of my 5 life.‘ she admits. ‘i felt that i should quit. But i l thought: what else could I do but go on? i went to 1 lots of auditions, got rejected a lot. It still hurts. but I wouldn‘t give up.‘ Her persistence was rewarded with a small part in the Brat Pack vehicle St Elmo 's Fire. but even then it was a trial. ‘At that point l was still a little burnt. l was pretty intimidated. All the other actors knew each other. they all lived in Hollywood. they all hung out together. very LA. i just didn't fit in.‘

Things catne good when she auditioned for debut director Steven Soderbergh‘s sex. lies and videotape. Flying in the face of Hollywood opinion. Sb‘derbergh i handed her a lead role. and straitlaced Southern 3 frumpiness (which contrasts with her obvious beauty)? became the centre of the film‘s intelligent appeal. ' deerbergh was astounded at her obedience and acting ability. ‘She blushes on request.’ he enthused I at the time. ‘We did five takes and every time on cue she blushed. i didn‘t think anybody could do that.‘

Sex. lies and videotape won the top prize at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and broke through into blockbuster status as a result. Although MaeDowell lost out on the Festival actress award to Meryl Streep (for A Cry in the Dark). she instantly became a Hollywood face and was signed up for Peter Weir‘s Green Card alongside lovable Eurohunk Gerard Depardieu. She still maintains her reserve. however.

and is clearly reluctant to pigeon-hole herself: MacDowell is as likely to pop up in a big-budget action thriller (Hudson Hawk) as a small-scale art- movie (The Object of Beauty).

‘I get In odd situations - one week I’ll be cleaning up, looking after my kids and the next I’ll be in LA, with all the paparazzi yelling my name.’

Now she‘s got two films on practically simultaneous release in the UK. In the romantic drama Ruby Cairo. she is a globe-trotting widow discovering her dead husband‘s secrets; and in Groundhog Day. she shares the limelight with legendary American screen comic Bill Murray. Of the two. Groundhog Day is the kind of quality comedy that is likely to win a following. dealing as it does with a TV weatherman who is locked into an ever-repeating day. The only positive side is that he has plenty of chances to make moves on MacDowell‘s character. as director Harold Ramis (who cameos as a neurologist) skilfully cuts between near-identical versions of the same scenes. MacDochI likes to dwell on the film‘s existential aspects: ‘For me. life is like that. You can‘t get over something unless you do it again and again. and then it hits you on the head and you learn a lesson. You can relate this movie to reality. because we ourselves are sort of stuck in one place all the time.‘

For us Brits who don't know, Groundhog Day is one of those bizarre American rituals that‘s as corny as Morris dancing this side ofthe Atlantic. In the small town of Punxsutawney. Pennsylvania. a large


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t rodent that looks a bit like a hedgehog is questioned E by the local mayor as to what the next six weeks‘ 5 weather will be. It tells him. and everyone parties. I Cool. Weatherman Murray and producer MacDowell are sent by their network to cover the event. and . that‘s where the plot takes off. MacDowell the actress j is quite happy to defend the shenanigans. ‘lt‘s nice to 5 have some event to look forward to. It takes you away from being at work. it‘s not as big as Easter. } but it could be. Harold was very keen on having it ; designated a national holiday itt fact. he picketed the White House.‘

I think she's joking. But it‘s hard to tell. She‘s ; thoughtful. is Andie MacDoweIl. She doesn't say i much offthe cuff. She carefully stresses her yearning I for normality. living as she does in stnalltown

Montana with her ex-model husband. ‘No matter - how hard you try. somewhere along the line you‘ll screw up. It's almost theraputic for the to bring children up and get it right. to give them things I .2 wish I‘d had. It means so much to me to have this wholesomeness around me.‘

A model past behind her. Andie MacDowell seems to have an interestingly model future in store. Modest to the end. her desire for ordinariness is a result. perhaps. of the stresses of modem stardom. ‘My main reason for living is not to be a movie star.‘ she concludes. ‘or even a great actress. My main reason for living revolves around my family ~ anything that I do is part ofthat. It‘s not that I'm not passionate about my work. it's that there are other things to explore.‘

Groundhog Day opens in Scotland on Friday 7 May. See Screen Test for review. Ruby Cairo has opened in

London and will appear on video this summer.

30 The List 7—20 May 1993