Twenty years ago, “people would keep saying to me when I was interviewed: ‘How does it feel to turn 40 and know that you’re not going to work anymore?'” Andie MacDowell recalls.
She’s proven those naysayers wrong, earning raves for her turn as a widow in this year’s drama Love After Love — and doing her first nude scene at 60. “Now everybody knows what I look like [naked], and I’m not worried about it anymore. I’d be happy to do it again.”
That’s not the only way Andie has stripped down to the bare essentials. The South Carolina native found fame in hits like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Groundhog Day, but left Hollywood for a Montana ranch. “I like to be in nature around trees,” she says. “I had a big house, and I’ve had a small house, and I think I was happier in the smaller house.”
She’s passed along those values to her kids: son Justin and daughters Rainey and Margaret from her 1986 to 1999 marriage to fellow former model Paul Qualley. “I wanted to give my children a normal life,” she says. “They rarely went to openings or premieres. We’ve never spent much time watching my movies. When I came home I never talked about my work. I just talked about them.”
Both daughters followed their mom into acting. “I’m happy — it suits them very naturally,” says Andie, who has offered them plenty of advice. “Never be desperate, you’re allowed to make mistakes,” she shares. “And only do it if it’s fun because if you’re doing something that you truly enjoy, there is a bigger chance that you will succeed.”
Andie’s second marriage, to businessman Rhett Hartzog from 2001 to 2004, also ended in divorce, but she’s learned important lessons from the tough times she’s endured. “I know what it is to have much deeper pains,” she says. “I’m more confident and I have so much knowledge about life, people and humanity.”
That’s allowed her to become a better actress as well. “You have a lot more depth by the time you’re my age because you’ve had to struggle,” she says. “I understand what it is to have a complex life. You see things differently, and I think you have more to offer.”
Casting directors seem to agree, as Andie has recently landed roles in the British sitcom Cuckoo and the upcoming Netflix comedy The Last Laugh, opposite Richard Dreyfuss and Chevy Chase. But she’s less focused on her career these days than she is on her spiritual life. “My belief is in kindness — as you get older, I feel like if you’re going down the right road there is this clarity that you can see in your eyes,” she says. “It’s a gentleness that is the most beautiful aspect a human can have. That is my goal — to continue to work on the gentle side of myself.”
For more on your favorite stars, pick up the new issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and sign up for our newsletter!