US actress Andie MacDowell puts accent on beauty

Leila Macor
AFP News
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Andie MacDowell

You wouldn't think that Andie MacDowell, pictured at the Cannes Film Festival, would have confidence problems. But the US actress and long-time face of cosmetic giant L'Oreal insists she is like any other woman getting older

You wouldn't think that Andie MacDowell would have confidence problems. But the US actress and long-time face of cosmetic giant L'Oreal insists she is like any other woman getting older.

The 54-year-old star, whose latest film "Mighty Fine" is just out -- to mixed reviews -- also still recalls an early humiliation, when her southern accent almost made her "untouchable" after only her first movie.

MacDowell, whose film roles have included "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Sex, Lies and Videotape," teams up with her daughter Rainey Qualley on the new comedy, and is clearly relishing the experience.

The blue-eyed 23-year-old also enjoyed making a film with her mother. "It was nice because on set it was just like we were working together, but we would go back to the hotel and she could be my mum," said Qualley, who also sings.

"Mighty Fine" tells the story of Joe Fine (played by Chazz Palminteri) who moves his Jewish family from Brooklyn to New Orleans. MacDowell plays the 1970s housewife, and Qualley one of their two daughters, Maddie.

"She auditioned. ... I was cast, but I hadn't said anything about my daughter, because I don't like to do that," explained MacDowell, sitting beside her daughter in a Hollywood hotel.

"But definitely she just did a really good audition, she wouldn't have got the job because of me, I would never ask someone to hire my daughter," she told AFP.

Qualley has something of the beauty of her mother, who has been the face of L'Oreal for 25 years but still blushes when reminded that People magazine named her among the 50 most beautiful women in the world -- twice.

"Oh gosh - that People magazine thing," she said.

But she then launches into why she thinks she has more responsibility as she grows older, and promotes anti-wrinkle cream among other products, in reflecting older women's beauty.

"It means more to me to represent women at 54 and to continue to say 'Look, you're beautiful, you have value, you have worth," than it did when I was 30," she said.

"Because I think it's easy for our culture to accept young people as beautiful. I think it's harder for our culture to accept women as they get older as beautiful."

And she added: "Like anybody, you have moments when you question yourself and you're insecure.

"One of the things that I had to do is psychologically look at my mindset and look how my thoughts are about myself, because if I'm going to stand as the woman who says 'you're worth it', then I have to feel worth it too.

"But I'm human, so of course all of the struggle is something that you do day by day."

MacDowell is quite open about challenges she faced starting out, as a model and actress: when she was 23 and starred opposite Christopher Lambert in "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan," in 1984.

Her accent as Miss Jane Porter was deemed too strong, and had to be dubbed by Glenn Close -- as a result she had difficulty getting jobs, and took an enormous knock to her confidence.

"That was huge. Can you imagine? It's hard to make it in this business, period. But to overcome that is a miracle. It is, truly was. Because that should have killed me," she said.

How did she overcome it? "I started taking classes. It was really a mindset. I did not want that to be the end of my story, I didn't want that to be me saying to my kids 'Well, I try to act, and this is what happened'.

"I had to change it. It took a long time and it didn't happen easy," said MacDowell -- whose accent in "Mighty Fine," it must be said, has raised eyebrows among some critics.

Her breakthrough came when Joel Schumacher gave her a job in "St. Elmo's Fire" in 1985. "I owe him everything, I owe him my life. He saved my live, he saved my career. Because I was untouchable," she said.

Then came Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-nominated "Sex, Lies and Videotape" (1989), which she did aged 30.

"It was a miracle that I got the job ... I had to audition many times to keep proving it to the producers, because they were sort of like 'What? You want who?' But Steven (Soderbergh) wanted me.

Then came "Green Card" in 1990 with Gerard Depardieu, "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray in 1993, and "Four Weddings" with Hugh Grant in 1994, which established her as a major Hollywood star.

"And then I didn't have to audition. It was amazing. Overnight," she said.

"Here's the thing with the business, is that when people like your work, and you make them money, you're set. When the critics like you and you make the studios money, doors opened," she said, sighing.