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Andrew McCarthy Hates Sweatpants

  • Sarah Sung

Actor. Brat Packer. Lover of mannequins. And these days... travel writer. Andrew McCarthy’s second act has taken him to such far-flung places as Kilimanjaro, Bhutan and... San Francisco, where we (and our brothers at UrbanDaddy San Francisco) caught up with him on tour for his new book, The Longest Way Home.

Naturally, we asked him about sweatpants, his former costars and his favorite international drinking ritual...

How did acting prepare you for being a travel writer? I’ve said so much bad dialog in my career as an actor, it helped me know really good quotes when I heard them.

Ha, nice. So what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I had a bite of a slug down in the Amazon. That was pretty... awful. It was a small bite from a big slug. Yummy.

Moving on... What film are you most recognized for? It depends who’s asking. If it’s a woman of a certain age, it’s going to be Pretty in Pink. If it’s a truck driver, it’ll be Weekend at Bernie’s. If it’s a hipster dude, it’ll probably be Less Than Zero.

Makes sense. So where’s the strangest place you’ve been recognized? Years ago I was in Berlin when the wall fell. In the middle of the night, right when the wall was coming down, I was in the midst of this crowd that was surging up to the wall. And a guard was pushing people back with his rifle, and I was towards the front, and he looked at me and stopped and stared and said, “You!” I thought: oh, fuck. He’s going to throw me in an East Berlin prison.

And he said, “Catholic boys.” It was a movie named Heaven Help Us that I did, and they changed the title to Catholic Boys over in Europe. And at about 2am, this East Berlin guard recognizes me and grabs me and takes me inside to this nice secluded area. [So] that was a strange and random encounter.

Wow, that’s incredible. Are people always that generous when they recognize you? They often tell me the craziest things about themselves. I was just actually on the subway about a week or two ago. And I could tell a woman recognized me and was smiling and I smiled back politely. She was getting up to leave and was walking toward me. I thought she was going to say something about Pretty in Pink, and I’d be polite and she’d leave. She came up and said: “You know my husband died two months ago and this is the first time I’ve smiled. Thank you.” And it burst us both open and suddenly we were hugging each other in the middle of this subway ride. [It made me] realize the power that movies have in a certain way. [It was] quite moving because I anticipated one thing and it turned out to be totally different.

Amazing. Let’s lighten it up a bit: if you could travel around the world with a former costar, who would it be? I’d have to think about that one. [long pause] I had a horse in a movie, maybe I’d travel with him.

Ha. Are you still in touch with any of your fellow Brat Packers? Yeah, I ran into Jon Cryer not long ago. I’m not sure if he’s a member of the Brat Pack. I’m never quite sure what those membership requirements are. I tweeted with Emilio Estevez not that long ago. And I talked to Molly. Yeah, occasionally, sure.

If this book became a movie, who do you hope would play you? I’m hoping Julia Roberts... Anyone who’s younger and taller I guess would be fine.

What’s the one thing you try to do in every city you visit? If there’s a local street market, I like to go. [It] reveals what a place is really like as opposed to what’s the face they want to present to us. People are out there getting their needs met in a down-and-dirty way.

After doing movies like Weekend at Bernie’sand Mannequin, it seems you have a propensity for lugging big items on screen. Do you have any packing advice? Nice segue...

Ha, thanks. Travel light, travel fast. There’s nothing I hate more than taking an eight-hour flight and then waiting an hour for my bag to come down.

Makes sense. Your thoughts on flying in sweatpants? Jesus, you know what? I don’t want to sit next to you if you are. I think that anyone who goes out—besides to exercise—in sweatpants is basically saying to the world: I just don’t give a shit. You know? I really think we can do a little better.

Well said. Okay, final question: what’s your favorite cultural drinking ritual? Well, I don’t drink anymore, but I certainly love the Irish drinking rituals. They know how to do it.