Andie MacDowell of ‘The Way Home’ on Finding God in Nature

Andie MacDowell of ‘The Way Home’ on Finding God in Nature June 9, 2024

A woman with curly silver hair, wearing a plaid shirt.

Earlier this year, Andie MacDowell, then 65, joined the cast and producers of Hallmark Channel’s time-traveling family drama The Way Home for a press conference at the biannual TV Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, California.

Afterward, during a sumptuous, Jane Austen-themed lunch, I ask her what faith means to her at this point in her life and career.

“OK,” she says, “yeah, that’s an interesting question. My mother played the organ at church. My great-grandfather was an Episcopalian minister. And for me, there was a sense of peace I found.

“I liked the church I went to because it was non-judgmental, it was very loving and kind, and we [would] stand up and share the peace with each other.

“And it was comforting. It was like a meditation and a family. Soothing. My grandmother prayed every night on her knees.

“We always said blessing over the food. But it wasn’t fake. It wasn’t like someone might imagine some corny … It’s a great way to start a meal, to take that time, instead of just digging in, and be grateful.”

Andie MacDowell: Episcopalian, Mother and Actress

MacDowell was indeed raised Episcopalian, and in various articles, she’s talked about attending Episocopalian and Methodist congregations. Born in Gaffney, South Carolina, she grew up a child of divorce, with a mother that suffered with mental-health issues and alcoholism.

Divorced twice herself, she raised her three children, now grown, away from the spotlight in Asheville, North Carolina — where she wasn’t known as Andie MacDowell, but as Rose Qualley (her first husband was rancher and former model Paul Qualley), as her birth name is Rosalie Anderson MacDowell.

Her daughters, Margaret and Rainey Qualley, are in showbiz, while son Justin has led a life away from the entertainment industry.

After a stint in Los Angeles, starting in the mid-2010s, after her children were adults, MacDowell has recently moved back to South Carolina, and has famously let her dark locks turn silver.

Along with being a longtime spokesperson for L’Oreal hair care, MacDowell has had an admirable film career, including St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), Groundhog Day (1993), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Footlose (2011), Love After Life (2017), Only the Brave (2017), Ready or Not (2019) and No Man’s Land (2021).

She also starred opposite daughter Margaret in the 2021 Netflix miniseries Maid.

Coming to Hallmark Channel for Cedar Cove and The Way Home

Then, as it has for many actresses, Hallmark Channel called — and it wasn’t even for a Christmas movie. From 2013-’15, MacDowell starred in the Hallmark series Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove.

In January 2023, The Way Home premiered on Hallmark Channel, starring MacDowell as the matriarch of the Landry family, three generations of willful, independent women, who wind up living together at the family farm in Canada.

MacDowell plays grandmother Del, who welcomes back her estranged daughter, Kat (Chyler Leigh), after the younger woman’s marriage and career fails, and 15-year-old Alice (Sadie LaFlamme-Snow), the granddaughter she’s never meet.

When Alice falls into a pond on the property, she discovers that it’s a portal to travel through time and perhaps unravel some family mysteries.

The series’ second season recently ended on Hallmark Channel, and a third has been ordered, to come in 2025. It’s also available on Hallmark Movies Now, Philo, Peacock, Prime Video, Hulu, The Roku Channel, Apple TV, YouTube TV, Fandango at Home (formerly Vudu) and Sling TV.

At the press conference for the show, MacDowell said:

I think that one of the great beauties of this show is the multigenerational, three-women dynamics, and I’m really impressed that Hallmark is giving — my character, in particular, because I represent women of a certain age — the opportunity to show women that I’m not a cliché character.

I’m not your typical older woman, that I’m multifaceted and strong and interesting and dynamic. So, that’s been rewarding for me. And I think it’s a very important part, the family, in the show and the pond adds this excitement, and it’s a wonderful tool for storytelling.

But yes, I believe at the heart of the show, it is about these very well-written characters that people attach themselves to.

How MacDowell Finds Her Center in Prayer

Back at the lunch table, I ask MacDowell what she does when she needs to re-center herself and find peace,

“I pray,” she says. “I do pray. And for me, I’ve always thought walking in nature is a kind of prayer, because it’s God’s gift. It is a masterpiece. It is the most beautiful piece of art. I find art in nature that’s much more fascinating to me than anything manmade.

“Sunrise and sunsets, animals, birds, the sound of birds. They say that listening to the sound of birds can lower your blood pressure. It can actually calm you, soothe you.

“I think a lot of people can find God, even if they’re non-traditional, walking in nature. I mean, it’s hard not to see the miracle.”

As for eternity, MacDowell says, “I don’t think about Heaven so much. I feel like, if we look for it, Heaven is here.

“I’m scared to say it because then I might die. But for me, there’s no fear of dying, like, I’m going to burn in Hell. But I don’t really think about Heaven, either. I just feel safe in whatever it is that holds me safe.

“I do think we need to responsible. Do good things and care about other people. And that’s what it… Really, it should be teaching us to be good companions for each other, caretaking each other.”

New Home, New Church?

As for where she goes to church right now, MacDowell says, “I have just moved to South Carolina, and there’s an Episcopal church that’s not that far away, that I think I might start going to, but right now I’m not.

“I must be a failing Christian. I’m going to the nature church. But I will. I will.”

Asked about a favorite prayer, she says, “Do I have a favorite prayer? That’s a good question. I said the Lord’s Prayer every night before I’d go to sleep, when I was with my children.

“And the 23rd Psalm’s a beautiful Psalm.”

Image: Andie MacDowell in The Way Home/Hallmark Channel

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About Kate O'Hare
Based in Los Angeles, Kate O'Hare is a veteran entertainment journalist, Social Media Content Manager for Family Theater Productions and a rookie screenwriter. You can read more about the author here.
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