Role Recall: Andie MacDowell on overcoming 'shocking and heartbreaking' start in 'Tarzan,' Bill Murray shenanigans on 'Groundhog Day' and more

·6 min read

Andie MacDowell has one of Hollywood’s most inspiring stories of perseverance.

The South Carolina native was a 23-year-old model when she made her acting debut in the 1984 film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. MacDowell's Southern accent was so pronounced, though, that director Hugh Hudson ultimately hired a more established actress, Glenn Close, to re-dub all of MacDowell’s dialogue. It was a devastating blow to her fledgling career.

"I don't know when they decided there was a problem, and I never really got any answers," MacDowell told Yahoo Entertainment in our latest episode of Role Recall (watch above). "Disappointing is not a big enough word. It was shocking, and heartbreaking. I went back in and we were going to try to fight for it, but I could barely speak. … People were horrible to me. The press made fun of me. It was cruel, it was a very cruel time in my life."

Despite that humiliation, MacDowell refused to give up.

She worked with dialogue and acting coaches. Within a year, she was playing a supporting role in one of the dramas that defined the Brat Pack, St. Elmo's Fire (1985). Four years later she gained attention for her assured performance in Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), a project often credited for transforming the landscape of independent film.

By the mid-'90s MacDowell was a bona fide star, thanks to a pair of back-to-back hits: the seminal 1993 fantasy comedy Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, and the 1994 British rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral alongside Hugh Grant.

Her career couldn't possibly sustain that momentum, and MacDowell worked more sparingly in the late '90s and '00s while she also raised three children (including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood breakout Margaret Qualley).

“Sometimes people will say stuff to me like, ‘Do you still act?’ And then a couple times I’ve said, ‘Yes, I am, but not in anything you’re watching,” MacDowell laughed.

She's quietly in the midst of a comeback, however, after a small but memorable appearance alongside Channing Tatum and his male stripper gang in Magic Mike XXL (2015) and now with her latest film, Ready or Not. The thriller follows a young woman (Samara Weaving) who marries into an excessively wealthy dynasty only to be forced into a deadly game of hide and seek on her wedding night. MacDowell plays the seemingly sweet but possibly psychotic matriarch in the gory crowdpleaser, which currently boasts a 90 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The 61-year-old actress spoke candidly about her turbulent beginnings, becoming an A-list star in the '90s, and her one box-office bomb she now admits she has never really seen. Some highlights:

On why she kept acting after The Legend of Tarzan: "It took time for me to absorb it and recover. I had to make a decision: It was give up or fight. I thought about what my grandchildren would think of me, that's really what I thought. I thought, 'My grandchildren someday are gonna say, "Yeah my grandmother did this movie, she did this movie about Tarzan and they dubbed her voice. And she was a model."' And that was the fight. The fight for me was my legacy on a personal level."

Andie MacDowell in 'Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan'
Andie MacDowell in 'Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan'

On working with the Brat Pack in St. Elmo's Fire, and that kiss scene with Emilo Estevez: "Emilio was fun to work with, but it was odd because he was dating Demi [Moore] and I didn't want Demi not to like me. And we're young, it's all so awkward when we're young. I remember one scene with Demi and finally connecting with her and hoping that she liked me. That’s how you feel. Still, all of us. All of us feel that way."

On reports that Steven Soderbergh initially didn’t want her for Sex, Lies and Videotape, and the film exploding onto the scene when it won the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival: "I felt that there was nobody that could do this better than me. ... I knew this character ... so I did this reading and Steven loved it. He was like, 'Yeah, you're Anne.' So I didn't really have to sell myself to Steven after I did the reading. I had to sell myself to the studio. I had to come back in and be put on tape to convince them. But Steven wanted me. ... When it won at Cannes I didn't go because I'd just had a baby. And Steven called me and was like, 'So, we're going to have distribution now?' And he was just kind of laughing. ... I didn't grasp how huge that was at the time."

On why Gérard Depardieu needed to read his lines on Green Card (1991) — it wasn't because English was his second language: "He read off cue cards one day. … I think he drank a little bit too much the night before [laughs]. He wasn't prepared. … Some people I probably wouldn't say that about because I don't want them to get mad at me but I know Gérard would not care."

Andie MacDowell and Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day'
Andie MacDowell and Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day'

On Bill Murray shenanigans on the set of Groundhog Day: "Off camera he's just as weird. Maybe weirder, you know, 'cause he's just being him. … People would come from all over to see him. And on Friday nights he would say, 'I'm sorry, folks, I don't do autographs on Fridays.' And it didn't matter where they came from… people accepted it. They weren't mad at him. Nobody was angry or saying ugly things to him. … One time we were in the car, doing a scene, and he just took off. And I was like, 'What are we doing? Where we going, Bill?' And he goes, 'I just thought we'd go for a ride.' And so we just left for about 10 or 15 minutes."

On meshing with Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral: "Hugh's easy. He's just laid back and chill and prepared, charming and funny. He was adorable and easy to look at. He has great timing, perfect timing. He was extremely well cast in that role, it was written for him. He was so good."

On Town & Country (2001), the Peter Chelsom-directed film co-starring Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton that is considered one of the biggest box-office flops of all time: "Here's something I'm going to confess to you. I've been really wanting to do something about this recently. I've never seen the movie. I know that's a terrible thing to admit. I was so disappointed, and I wasn't sure if I was going to like myself. So I just didn't watch it. But I would like to watch it now, it's been enough time."

Ready or Not opens Friday. Watch the trailer:

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