Andrew McCarthy on traveling the world, falling in love, and getting good with 'Pretty in Pink'
“The guy from Pretty in Pink is going to be 50 this year,” Andrew McCarthy announced.
The McCarthy of today is a bit rough around edges, showing slight signs of wear around the eyes but otherwise he’s held up well; no middle-age paunch, and his hairline seems to have stayed put. He’s still Blane.
McCarthy was at the Toro lounge in Tribeca last night to read from his new travelogue, The Longest Way Home, and his mention of reaching the half-century mark tickled an audience of 70 or so finely dressed attendees, nearly all women. The event was organized by Gilt City, the local lifestyle wing of the popular purveyor of discounted designer threads, Gilt Groupe.
There were so many women, in fact, that moments earlier, a gentleman leaned over to me and asked, “Am I the only guy here?”
He wasn’t, but there were no more than eight.
“This reminds me when I went to Zumba class with a girlfriend,” the man continued. “I was the only guy there. This is like a literary Zumba class.”
McCarthy doesn’t seem conflicted by the source of his enduring popularity. His first order of business was tying up the inevitable loose ends that accompany a public appearance.
“So first and most importantly, I should tell you that the Brat Pack reunion tour has been suspended again—one of our members is back in rehab.” he said, “The other important news is, yes, Molly and I do correspond regularly, and she is lovely ... that sorta brings us up to date then.”
Celebrity squeezes years out of a life (pointless, unremarkable years), casting a veil over everything but what made you famous. For McCarthy, that’s Class, St. Elmo’s Fire, Less Than Zero, all released in late ‘80s. His past 30 years have been relegated to the 99-cent bin, well-known but not often looked at. McCarthy realizes he’s defenseless in the face of such notoriety. Book or no book, fans will always line up to see him because of what he did years ago. He tried to bridge the gap, from Blane to now.
“So what is this Brat Pack actor doing now, becoming a travel writer, writing this book that's sorta a travel book but not a travel book?” he said, “You know me from Mannequin and Weekend at Bernie’s, and all these sorts of things. And how does that person become that person? “
The Longest Way Home is his answer to that question, a memoir about his real life traveling the world to get away from all the fame.
“Years ago I started traveling as a sort of reaction to all the movies I was in.,” he said. “I would run away because I found in my early 20s, all that sorta crazy, wondrous attention was in some ways very odd. I had a strange relationship to success in that I really desired it and wanted it, and on the one hand I was apprehensive about it and pushed away from it … so I started traveling the world and through that began to grow up in a way that I didn't ever need to when I was doing movies. And it changed my life.”
A loner, living a life of false, made-up connections, McCarthy was faced with the proposal of marriage—an idea that left him more than a little anxious. McCarthy fled, using the places where he feels most connected (anywhere but home) to inform his opinion on marriage, one possibility for an ultimate home.
“I was going to Patagonia, down in the tip of South America, to do a story for a magazine and my now-wife and I had been engaged for four or five years and we finally decided to get married,” he said. “And then I head off to the bottom of the world, as far away from her I could possibly get. It was the same thing that had been happening with my acting career. I wanted this kind of intimacy and connection and all this, and the same time I wanted to get away from it.”
McCarthy read from the prologue of his book, which starts on his honeymoon in Africa, a week after his wedding. He and his wife, identified only as D, were preparing to leave Mozambique and met with a series of mishaps—rough terrain, a flat tire. They ended up missing their flight, but McCarthy caught a beautiful moment, stranded on the side on the road with his new wife.
Following the reading, guests asked McCarthy about his travels—the most dangerous or memorable places he’s visited, where he hasn’t been but would like to go to—ferretting out details about his personal life. McCarthy was happy to oblige. He was downright chummy, manufacturing the connection everyone wanted with him.
At the end of the talk, guests lined up to have their books signed. One by one, McCarthy was met with an anecdote about his life, their lives, travel tips, his movies, movie stardom—a show of collective adulation that McCarthy seems to have finally grown accustomed to.
“It probably goes without saying but… big fan,” a giddy woman said.
“Thank you, thank you. What’s your name?” McCarthy replied.
“Can I get a picture? I feel weird. Is it alright?” she wondered.
“Get over here!” McCarthy said, with an avuncular charm.
Iphones lifted for photo ops as people looped around the table carrying books, and pressed their heads next to his.
McCarthy was unfazed by the flashbulbs.
“I will always be 22 to you,” McCarthy had concluded at the end of his reading, “which is great. For years, I thought ‘I try to do this with my life and no one pays attention.’ Now in my life I don't care anymore. That's one of the things about getting older. It's like yeah, that's a great thing, those movies mean so much to people. I love Bruce Springsteen and when he plays a concert and plays from his new record I go yeah, I like it, and when he plays “Born to Run” and everyone goes insane, it's the same thing. No matter what I ever do, I could land on Mars and it would be Andrew Pretty in Pink McCarthy landed on Mars.”