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Q+A: Andie MacDowell tries TV with ABC Family's 'Jane By Design'

January 2, 2012 | 11:30 am

Andie MacDowell gets bossy in ABC Family's 'Jane By Design'
Andie MacDowell is probably best known for her film resume, which includes starring in flicks such as "Groundhog Day" and 'Four Weddings and a Funeral." But these days she's giving the small screen another try, appearing in the new ABC Family series "Jane By Design."

In the lighthearted drama, which premieres Jan. 3, high schooler Jane (played by Erica Dasher) moonlights as an assistant to a renowned fashion executive Gray Chandler (MacDowell). She's a fashion executive so renowned she wields her demands via video chats when she's away — disapproving expressions get lost when you use those silly smartphones, after all!

We spoke to the actress about the new gig (we wish it was through Skype!). Read on to hear what she had to say about never making it to air with Fox's "Lone Star" and the Gray Chandlers she's known in her own life.

Viewers probably know you best as a film actress. And your venture with 2010's "Lone Star" didn't turn out so well — we never got to see your character [the show was canceled after two episodes]. When "Jane By Design" came along, were you less weary because it was a different sort of beast?

Honestly, I didn't even think twice about it at all. What happen to "Lone Star" was unfortunate. I felt sorry for the kids that were starting out — they really did a good job on that show. It was interesting because everybody thought it was going to be so great. But I guess not.

I think "Jane By Design" is a really great match for me. I'm more excited about the character and the opportunities I have with this character. i feel very comfortable, and that always helps when you feel like you play a role that you feel you know a bit. And I liked the idea of this show. I think the idea of "Lone Star" was the problem. I think people didn't really like what the concept was. But this show ["Jane By Design"] is really appealing. The idea of a young girl who wants to help her family and gets hired to do this high-powered job and works for this demanding woman — it's a charming idea. It's kind of simple, but it's something I think people can enjoy, and they'll want to see her succeed.

And it gives me a lot of opportunity to have fun. To see how far I can go with my role as this demanding boss. That's the fun part, to see how ridiculous I can make her.

When I first heard you'd be on an ABC Family show, I was sort of expecting you to play a mom —

That's the interesting thing. And I can't really say how the relationship between Gray and Jane will develop — how much of a motherly role I'll end up having in her life. They tell me nothing! They kind of just don't tell me anything. They have this funny look on their face, and they don't tell me anything. I have no idea. I know nothing. We'll see. It's always a surprise.

Wait. How many episodes have you done so far?

We've done 10. And I hope we get to do more. I want it to get picked up because now I really understand what I want to do, which is the way it goes, right? I'm like, "oh, yeah, now I'm really ready."

In the pilot, we see you in spurts via video chats. Is that primarily how we'll be seeing your character? As this boss who delegates over video conferences?

Originally, that's how they were going to shoot me. They had this concept that they would have me appear through the computer — this figure that doesn't really come in all the time. Then they changed their mind and wanted me working more within the group of business workers. Later, you'll see more of me in the office. But it's not a huge role. It's really all about Jane. I'm just there for fun. I'm an accent piece who is there for fun. To give her somebody to play with.

Having been in the fashion business, do you know many people like Gray? It's sort of this "Devil Wears Prada" dynamic.

Yeah, I grew up in the fashion business. The woman that I worked with that worked at Vogue, who in a sense discovered me, was Polly Mellen. Polly was kind of like this a little bit. She could be like that to her assistants. Don't get me wrong, she could be really nice to them too. But she could be really demanding. But I won't name all the people who I think are like Gray. And you know what, I bet I can be like her at times too. I should reflect on that, huh? But I think any time you're in a career that is really demanding, you can be really strong. I don't see her as mean. I see her as a very strong person ... who sometimes goes a little too far.

I have to say, when I typed your name in Google, there were dozens of links about how your daughter, Rainey Qualley, is Miss Golden Globe.

We're so excited about that! Everyone in her hometown is so excited. I can't go anywhere without someone congratulating me. It's so sweet. It'll be fun.

— Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Andie MacDowell, left, plays Gray Chandler opposite Erica Dasher (who plays Jane) in the new series "Jane By Design." Credit: ABC Family.