Andie McDowell Stars in the New Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie, The Beach House
HALLMARK, Saturday, April 28, 9/8c
By Kellie Freeze
On Saturday night, Hallmark Channel presents the latest recipient of its prestigious Hall of Fame designation, the adaptation of Mary Alice Monroe’s touching novel The Beach House. The film centers on Cara (Minka Kelly), an ambitious young woman who, when she finds her life spinning out of control, returns to the beach house of her mother, Lovie (South Carolina native Andie MacDowell), where she reconnects with her Lowcountry roots, a former love (Chad Michael Murray) and the area’s vulnerable loggerhead turtles.
MacDowell shares that she brought the project to Hallmark three years ago after a chance encounter with the book’s author in the Charleston airport. The actress recalls, “She came up to me and said, ‘I wrote this book, and when I wrote this character Cara, I was thinking of you.’ We were walking down through the airport, and I looked in the bookstore, and there was a big poster of The Beach House. So I was like, ‘Well, I am so touched by this that I’m just going to buy the book.’” When MacDowell read the book, she fell in love with its characters and shares, “I love Southern family stories, especially if they’re a little bit messed up. I like the imperfections of people. I find them very relatable and true.”
This flawed family’s journey to reconciliation reminds them that forgiveness is a gift for both its recipient and giver. When Cara leaves her busy life in Chicago, she’s disappointed by her mother’s past conformity to the archaic role of the perfect Southern woman. But she discovers that Lovie found her own way to defy convention in her personal sanctuary on the beach.
MacDowell says while she’s far more outspoken than her character in The Beach House, they share a deep devotion to — and admiration of — nature.
“I love the Carolina beaches,” the actress sighs. “I feel very relaxed and very calm on the Carolina beaches. I enjoy very much going down there and hanging out with turtle people — that’s a lot of fun.”
The film’s message of environmental conservation took on a deeper meaning when Hurricanes Maria and Irma destroyed nesting grounds and devastated the Southeast’s loggerhead population. Representatives from Hallmark Channel share that a commitment to protecting wild turtles kept the production from using live turtles. They hope that the film and its support of the South Carolina Aquarium, which does loggerhead research and rescue, remind people of the beauty and frailty of nature.
The fragility of life is echoed in other areas of the film, says MacDowell, who doesn’t want to spoil the plot but hints, “Nature is always involved in the cycle of life.” This appreciation of life reforges the bond between Lovie and Cara, and the actress adds, “She ends up teaching her daughter to carry on — to be the caretaker, which is lovely.”
The Beach House’s Lowland setting is worthy of a starring credit alongside MacDowell, Kelly, Murray and The Good Wife’s Makenzie Vega. It’s achingly magnificent — with wide beaches covered with powdery sand and skies that seem to go on forever. One can almost smell the salty breeze wafting from the television screen.
“I just think it had a really beautiful feel,” says MacDowell. “You can understand why it was so magical to Lovie, why it had such deep meaning to her and why she could be herself at that place. That’s where she truly felt herself — that house, in that place.”
MacDowell says that after bringing the story to Hallmark, where she starred in the series Cedar Cove, she teamed up with one of the series’ former producers to bring the story from page to screen, a process that took nearly three years.
“We kept praying that it would be Hall of Fameworthy,” MacDowell admits. “That was our biggest dream for it to be a Hall of Fame movie, and it miraculously happened!”
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