She has played wife to many handsome leading men in her 27-year career, and now Andie MacDowell gets to step right back into her role as Dennis Quaid's other half in Footloose. According to Andie, they were reunited like an old married couple, and she sat down with Buzzine to talk about her role in the remake of the '80s classic, her series on ABC Family, Jane by Design, and being a single working mother.
Izumi Hasegawa: You were about 10 when the original Footloose came out, right?
Andie MacDowell: No, come on. I was in my twenties.
IH: So you remember it?
AM: Yeah, I remember it. I thought it was really radical.
IH: Because of the dance thing?
AM: The dance thing, and the girl acting crazy.
IH: You grew up in the south. Was it a strict environment, in terms of where you grew up?
AM: A few people have asked that, and I should probably ask my sisters to help me remember. The only thing I remember was my sister was a cheerleader, and there was a church that used to picket the school. They did not like the pep rallies, and they did not like the short skirts. That was the only thing I could remember that was like that.
IH: Is there anything about the original that you liked? What drew you to this project?
AM: I read the script and I thought it was really great. I love Vi (her character). It's a small part, but there isn't anything that comes out of her mouth that's not important. Every line I say is an interesting line, and she is the wisdom; she's the one who stands up for the kid. She's the one who sees everything that's going on. And I loved the opportunity to get to work with great people in this.
IH: Did you watch the original before?
AM: Yes, I did re-watch it, but Craig (Brewer - director) said he didn't really want me to play it the same way. He didn't want me to be as soft and repressed because it wouldn't be as present or contemporary. And to have more color and be more lively, not as soft-spoken. And that was a lot more fun.
IH: How was it working with Dennis (Quaid)?
AM: It was like seeing my husband again, because I worked with him on Dinner with Friends, so we would be married for a long time. It's easy for us to fall back in that role, so we're like an old married couple. And Julianne (Hough) was great, and Kenny (Wormald). I knew Kenny from the dance world because of my daughter's dance. And actually, my youngest daughter takes classes with Kenny, and all the little girls are madly in love with him on the dance floor. Rightly so, I know. And he did such a good job; they worked so hard, they were so prepared. The scene in the church was unbelievable. And I really loved trying to be there for Julianne. There's a really good quote in the scene -- just the way that I tried to touch her and be there, console her, just try to feel for her and be quiet and let her do her thing, yet be there for her.
IH: You're also a mom in real life. In this movie, we don't see that your character is super strict. What type of mom are you?
AM: I didn't have a man in my house once my youngest was four, so I had to be strong. But at the same time, I believe you instill in your children right and wrong, and you teach them and have to give them independence. You have to trust that they'll make the right choices, and you have to understand that perhaps they'll make mistakes. And you have to be the one they're willing to talk to when they do make mistakes. If you're too hard on them or if you repress too much, they actually end up doing the opposite. They won't come to you. I remember talking with my daughter...she had a friend whose parents were so weird, I mean setting all these limits for her and demanding this of her and demanding that of her, and you can't do this with this person, and trying to do all this without really having conversations. I told them, "You wait and see." She was the biggest pack of trouble out of all of them. It's a natural reaction. You have to give -- particularly adolescents. They need freedom. You've got to let them dance.
IH: There are some schools that ban dances just because of dirty dancing and whatnot. What advice would you have for the students to stand up? Would you tell them to start a petition?
AM: I think that's a great idea -- start a petition. But also you've got to remind them... I mean, please, were their parents really that innocent? I'm sorry, I don't believe it. And it's adolescence. You're hormones are going crazy. As long as you're not doing anything to hurt anyone or hurt yourself, you've got to let them dance. Too much repression has a negative reaction.
IH: With something like this, was there dancing? Was there music on the set?
AM: Not while I was there. I was so sad. I wanted to see them dance. I wanted to see the dancing so bad. I wanted to see that whole scene with Kenny. I wanted to see how he would do it. Now I got to see it on film, but he did such a great job. It's so exciting.
IH: How do you think the public is going to react to the remake?
AM: I think they're going to love it. I think it's got a lot of heart and it's great timing. Everybody is so tired of all the negative energy in the world. We need something to lift us up and make us feel good. And it's not just entertainment. It really can change your mood. It's something that's really going to make you feel good -- not as an escape; it's more than an escape.
IH: Is it more difficult as an actor to play a scene with less dialogue? Because the scenes are pretty powerful, but there's not necessarily a ton of dialogue...
AM: I actually like less dialogue. I think I can say more by saying nothing. I think that's when the best acting is done. I think you can say a lot. I think it's more interesting. People think that, when they're not talking, they're not doing anything. That's just not true. You can say so much, especially on film, because your face is so big. All you have to do is think something.
IH: Are you working on something now, or do you have something coming up?
AM: I've got one more day left on ABC Family's Jane by Design, and I play a very high-powered fashion executive who is not always the nicest person. I don't want to say that she's a bitch because that's demeaning. If she were a man, you wouldn't say that. But she's under a lot of stress, and she's very demanding. That's all I'll say. It's really about this young girl who lives a double life, who goes out and tries to get an apprenticeship job. I mistake her age and hire her as my assistant and offer her a lot of money. So she goes, "Yes!" nd she's going to try to figure out how she's going to do this and go to school at the same time. So she's leading this double life and pretending she's this older person in this high-fashion world. It's really cute. And the girl is a really great actress named Erica Dasher. I have a lot of fun doing that.
IH: A lot of people had reservations about Julianne because she was on Dancing with the Stars. What was it like to see her grow as an actress and being there for her?
AM: She cared so much about what she was doing. That was the most important thing, and she really put a lot of energy, a lot of time into it, and gave 100%. And Craig was a good director with her. He was a perfect director for these young kids -- very attentive and gentle, yet really watching everything, and not just behind the monitor but really watching them. And it's very hard what she had to do. It's really difficult, and she pulled it off. She really nailed it. I was very impressed. She did a great job.
IH: Being a single mom, how do you juggle with being an actress and a mom?
AM: Now I don't have any children because they deserted me. How did I do it? I took them (with me) a lot, so they got to travel a lot. They went a lot of movie sets, and I had to turn down jobs at certain points. I think the high school years are just important, if not more important than when they're babies. So I tried to be around a lot for that age, and I think that time is really important. Even though my youngest is like a 30-year-old lady and she's only 16. So she's ridiculously mature.
IH: Have they seen the original?
AM: Yes, because my daughters danced.
IH: Are they excited to see you on there?
AM: Real excited.
IH: Did you bring them on set?
AM: No, my daughter is in the North Carolina School of the Arts, dancing and studying ballet. She almost came up, but it was just really hard with her schedule to get her up there just for the weekend. I regret not figuring a way so we could make it work, but it just didn't work out.
Paramount Pictures' 'Footloose' is released on October 14, 2011.