August 4, 2006

“Four Weddings” star MacDowell happy as mother-hen

By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Model-turned-actress Andie MacDowell
still looks like a Hollywood star but these days she seems to
see herself more as a mother hen -- and in her latest movie she
was cast as exactly that.

The animated family movie "Barnyard," which opened on
Friday, is about farm animals who, when the farmer's back is
turned, start walking, talking, eating pizza and partying like

MacDowell, a 48-year-old mother of three children, provided
the voice for a hen named Etta, the matriarch of the farm who
takes care of the chicks and imparts her wisdom.

In real life, she says, the main focus of her energies is
her children aged 11, 17 and 19. The role in "Barnyard" was the
perfect job because she recorded the whole thing in a sound
studio near her home in South Carolina.

"I went down the road to the studio, went in one of those
boxes, put on the headphones, talked to the director over the
headphones hooked up by telephone," she said in an interview,
adding that she only met director Steve Oedekerk and the rest
of the cast at the movie's premiere.

"It was great because I'm such a homebody," MacDowell said.
"It took 20 minutes, I left there with my head spinning."

MacDowell says she has spent far more time promoting the
film than she did working on it. "I've talked about myself for
three days and I'm really bored with myself," she said.

In recent years, she has kept a relatively low profile
compared to the peak of her fame when she starred in "Groundhog
Day" in 1993 and "Four Weddings and a Funeral" in 1994.

MacDowell, who was divorced from her second husband in
2004, said she deliberately focused on her children, raising
them outside the pressure-cooker environment of Los Angeles.

With her eldest at college and her 17-year-old daughter
about to leave home too, MacDowell expects to have more time
and energy for her career in the coming years, particularly
when her youngest daughter reaches college age.

"That's still seven years away, but I'm still young," she
said, which opened the floodgates on a subject she feels
strongly about.

"I'm really 48, but I decided to go backward this year
because people put way too much emphasis on age," she said. "I
know some 30-year-olds that are older than me."

MacDowell, who has long been one of the main faces of
cosmetics company L'Oreal, complained that women were under
pressure to believe that age and beauty were incompatible.

"You're pre-programmed to believe that a man can have
wrinkles and he's sexy and a woman has wrinkles and she's old,"
she said. She is constantly trying to persuade people that it's
time for a change.

"I do this nonstop. I have to defend myself (and) all women
that are 48, and say 'Yes, we're still beautiful.' But why do I
even have to do that where a man doesn't?"