Footloose Interview: Andie MacDowell Cuts Loose

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Andie MacDowell is stepping into Dianne Wiest’s shoes as the preacher’s wife in the Craig Brewer remake of Footloose. Much is being made of the effort Kenny Wormald has in jumping into the dancing shoes of Kevin Bacon, but one could argue that it is just as difficult to take on a role originated by an Oscar winner.

Andie MacDowell at the Footloose Premiere

MacDowell stars opposite Dennis Quaid as his wife, something she has done before in Dinner with Friends. “We’re an old married couple,” MacDowell joked to Movie Fanatic for our Footloose interview.

Brewer is bringing Footloose to a whole new generation and one of the aspects that most spoke to MacDowell was how the director kept the heart and soul of the original while simultaneously making it a film of the 21st century.

MacDowell dishes working with the young cast, and how in particular, she took it upon herself to take the new to acting Julianne Hough under her wing.

Movie Fanatic: What are your memories of the original Footloose?

Andie MacDowell: I remember it being really radical, thinking it was really radical. I watched it again right before I did it just to refresh my memory. It was kind of funny watching it because it’s not nearly as radical watching it now as it was when it first came out [laughs] -- which is why they needed to update it and make it somewhat more contemporary. The world’s even crazier than it was.

Movie Fanatic: What do you think the audience will take away from Footloose 2011?

Andie MacDowell: I think that everybody needs a relief. All of us are so sick and tired of worrying about the economy and all the depressing financial issues, that everybody needs a movie like this. Everybody needs to laugh and have fun and feel good. And it’s got a lot of heart. I think it’s perfect timing for a movie like this. To go and have fun and forget about their troubles for a couple of hours would be very healthy for not only escape but to feel good.

Movie Fanatic: The original film made a star out of Kevin Bacon, and also put Sarah Jessica Parker on the map. What star quality do you see in this new Footloose generation?

Andie MacDowell: They’re so talented. I knew Kenny (Wormald) because my daughter was a dancer. I knew him from the dance world. All the little girls adored him. I think the great thing about Kenny and what he has to offer is he’s truly a great dancer. That’s where he’s going to steal your heart. When he starts to dance, that’s it, it’s all over. You love him. But I think he as a person is genuine. He’s just such a good person that I hope for him that he becomes a big star. And Julianne too, they worked so hard. The scene in the church with Julianne, that was very difficult. And I’ve been in the position that they’ve been in where everything’s on your shoulders and they carried the movie. You’re doing it, there’s nobody else. Of course there’s the crew and everybody else but ultimately it’s on their shoulders and they really pulled it off. They did a great job. And the dancing’s fantastic.

Movie Fanatic: As a mother yourself, did any maternal instincts take over on set while filming with the young cast and maybe even contribute to your characterization of Vi?

Andie MacDowell: I think it helps, not only in the role, but off screen too. I am a nurturer by nature. I’m very maternal and I really enjoyed being there for Julianne and knowing what my place was for her. Having been the lead, like I said, in many movies, I knew what my role was to help support her and give her the space to do what she needed to do and at the same time try to make her feel good and also touch her in just the right way so it all opens up. I was very aware of all of that. I love being a mom so it was an easy thing for me to do.

Movie Fanatic: How did you see your Vi as different than Dianne Wiest’s interpretation?

Andie MacDowell: I did what Craig told me to do. He wanted it to be a little more lively, not quite as repressed -- contemporary.

Movie Fanatic: You and Dennis have quite a chemistry. What was it like working with him?

Andie MacDowell: We worked together before on Dinner with Friends so we joked that we’d already been married. I do think that helped with being comfortable, already having been married once. It felt like we had been married.

Andie MacDowell and Dennis Quaid in Footloose

Movie Fanatic: What was your favorite film from the 1980s, besides Footloose?

Andie MacDowell: I like all the dance movies, like Dirty Dancing.

Movie Fanatic: Do you think filmmaking today is different than when the first Footloose was made?

Andie MacDowell: It was different, less computers. There were no monitors. I was pre-monitors. They all sit behind a box now. They used to just watch you. Then when they got monitors there were still directors who wanted to come and watch you because sometimes when they’re watching monitors they don’t see everything. It’s hard to see everything on a little box.

Movie Fanatic: Tell us about the making of Mighty Fine and working with your daughter.

Andie MacDowell: It’s a mother-daughter story. I have a Polish accent in it. It’s going to be interesting. It’s taken from the writer’s true life story. The father is bipolar and the mother is very repressed because during the Holocaust she had been hidden. It takes place in the ‘70s. She doesn’t have a voice and she’s afraid to. She doesn’t know how to take care of her daughters. She’s kind of caught up in his spiral. She feels that she can control it which is an illusion. She can’t. My daughter plays my daughter. She’s the main victim to his aggression. Oh my God, it was so hard because she’s really my daughter and Chazz Palminteri plays the father, and the things she had to do and the things he did to her. In hindsight, ‘cause in the moment all you’re thinking about is doing the best you can do, that’s all you do. It’s complete tunnel vision, focusing on getting the job done. It’s got to be the best whatever it takes, get there no matter what happens to your daughter. And when it was all over and time passed by and I reflected, it was so painful.

Movie Fanatic: How do you feel about her following in your footsteps?

Andie MacDowell: Well she sings too and I’m thankful that she has another outlet. She sings like you would not believe. I don’t know where it came from. She was given a gift. She’s got lungs that are incredible. I’m thankful that she has something besides acting. I don’t want anybody to compare her to me. I want her to have her own voice.

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Footloose has a passionate audience for the 1984 film, so many asked when it was announced that writer-director Craig Brewer was bringing...

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