When Andie MacDowell looks back at her life in the spotlight, it brings her right back to now — and a sense of gratitude to be a woman of a certain age.
The actress and model couldn’t help but laugh at her L’Oreal Paris ads for hair dyes and color creams. “The first commercial that they had me shoot, I was 40 and I didn’t have a lot of gray yet,” she remembers.
These days, MacDowell is all grays: She stopped coloring her hair during the pandemic and never looked back, taking inspiration from George Clooney and other “gorgeous men” along the way. “I am 65 and I was ready at 60 to be an older woman. I just didn’t want to have to pretend to be something that I wasn’t,” she explains. “I just wanted to be an older woman.”
Twenty years ago, MacDowell wasn’t so sure what she wanted to be. Seeing images from The Way Home, her new Hallmark Channel series featuring Chyler Leigh, Evan Williams and Sadie Laflamme-Snow, she opens up about getting through the years between then and now.
“When you are a woman and you are in your 40s and 50s, they don’t know what to do with you,” she confesses. “That’s what’s so great about being silver — there’s no question what I am or what I’m playing. I do feel like my 40s and 50s were a bit of floundering. I tried to pretend like it was all going well…but it’s a very difficult time for women, because the world doesn’t support them as well as they should.”
MacDowell’s career in her 60s, however, has opened up new terrain. “I get to play more quirky, more interesting characters. I’m seen more for my heart and my soul.” She’s also had the chance to watch her children grow into themselves — and, while filming the 2021 Netflix miniseries MAID, to grow alongside her daughter Margaret Qualley, who co-starred.
“I kept asking her… ‘Do you believe me?’ And she goes, ‘yeah, I believe you.’ ‘Do you like what I’m doing?’ ‘I love what you’re doing.’ It gave me a lot of freedom to make the choices that I had to make.”
MacDowell also made the choice recently to break out of her comfort zone and strut onto set in nothing but underwear. “There’s something different about taking your clothes off at 65, because you don’t expect me to be anything but a body. There’s no expectation to be some sex pot or whatever.” The same mantra that has been carrying her through this next chapter got her through that day: “It’s just a body!”
Even when her career felt unsteady, MacDowell struck gold. “I didn’t make a lot of money,” she recalls of her breakout role in Sex, Lies, and Videotape, “but I didn’t care. I was so thankful to have a job. I was really struggling at that point in my life and I just wanted to play a character.” (She won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead and a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for the film.)
Four years later, MacDowell starred opposite Bill Murray in Groundhog Day — a performance that still fills her with pride. “I think it’s a perfect movie,” she declares. “I admire the discipline I had during that film. I would tell myself: I am proud of you, ’cause I like the way you’re handling things. I think you are really smarter than you realize.”
“The way I look at my career, and the longevity of my career, is having success over and over again,” she explains during a flashback to Four Weddings and a Funeral, in which she starred opposite Hugh Grant. “That establishes you as someone who’s bankable. Because I was able to continue to make successful movies or shows, it kept my career alive.”
But MacDowell is nowhere near finished. “There’s so many things I would like to do for women to explore what it is to be an older woman,” she shares. “I have so many ideas. I would love to play a silver fox type: super sexy, not held back by age, not demeaned by my age. Elevated just like a man. But then I’d also like to show all the vulnerabilities, the heartbreaking realities as well. I’d like to do both extremes.”
Off the set, MacDowell is also intent on building a next chapter for herself — and by herself. “I want to read books. I want to be in book clubs. I want to hike. I want to travel. I want to continue to do work that I am proud of and makes me feel like I’m growing. But to go out and search for someone — what am I searching for? What am I missing? I’m doing all the fun things that I enjoy doing: taking yoga, working out, eating great food. I need girlfriends, honestly. And gay friends.”