NEW YORK -- At a crowded French bakery on Manhattan's Upper East Side,
no one seems to recognize actor Andrew McCarthy. At least no one asks,
"Weren't you Kevin in St. Elmo's Fire?" or "Blane in Pretty in Pink."
But there are days when he does get those
questions, more than a quarter century after his years as part of the
teen "Brat Pack" that included Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe. "Some days
I'm hotter than others," McCarthy says with a laugh. "It depends what's
been on TV the night before. But my teenage fans are now women, so
there's less screaming and squealing, which is better for all of us."
weeks shy of turning 50, McCarthy -- an actor, director and
award-winning travel writer -- is still boyish. His first book, The Long Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down (Free Press, $26), is being released Tuesday.
It's part memoir, dealing with his parallel careers in acting and
writing, his alcoholism -- he's been sober since 1992, he says -- and
overcoming his self-doubts and insecurities. And it's part travelogue
about trips to Patagonia, the Amazon and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Over iced tea,
he calls it "an internal journey played out externally."
it, he writes, "Success in acting had given me a persona and a shell of
confidence; my travels helped me find myself beneath that persona and
fill out that shell with belief. Through travel, I began to grow up."
book is framed around the months leading up to his second marriage in
August 2011, when his bride-to-be, Dolores Rice, an Irish stage director
and writer, tried to plan their wedding from their home in Manhattan
while he found a need to sail down the Amazon or climb Kilimanjaro's
After an eight-year
relationship and four-year engagement, McCarthy's need to leave home
could be seen as a case of male non-commitment. He says, "The question
wasn't so much if we'd get married, but when and how."
In his book, his wife is identified only as D. "It's not really
about her," he says. "It's no tell-all bio." But a moment later, he
calls her "the moral compass in the middle of the story. I'm the idiot
As editor-at-large of National Geographic Traveler, who's had three articles chosen for the Best American Travel Writing
series of books, McCarthy prefers to travel alone. He cites one of his
literary influences, Paul Theroux, who touts the "lucidity of
But as part of his version of
settling down, McCarthy had his 10-year-old son from his first marriage
(to Carol Schneider) join him on an assignment in the Sahara. His
6-year-old daughter with Rice was his companion to Tahiti. The entire
family went camping in Wyoming -- "for fun, not work."
He recognizes a paradox in his travels, preferably off most
tourist maps: "I've traveled in order to feel at home in myself." He
sees acting and travel writing as "branches of the same tree," but often
when he's writing, "I wish I was acting, and when I'm acting, I wish I
He's also directed, including episodes of two TV series, Lipstick Jungle and Gossip Girl, in which he's appeared.
His next acting role is on a Hallmark TV movie in December, Christmas Dance,
playing a "corporate guy who has to learn to waltz and falls in love
with his dance teacher and learns the meaning of life. You get the
idea." He calls it "an irony-free zone, but lovely."
His next writing assignment in November takes him to Darjeeling, India, in search of "the best tea in the world."
His book's publisher is touting comparisons between the The Longest Way Home and Elizabeth Gilbert's mega-best-seller Eat, Pray, Love.
course they are," he says with a laugh. "Didn't that sell 6 million
copies? I liked it. It was honest, well-told and very atmospheric."
What about a movie version of his book?
laughs and says he'd welcome any interest. But he doubts he'd play
himself: "I'm sure they'd find someone hotter," he says and laughs
Andrew McCarthy has appeared in more than 70 films and TV series, including:
St. Elmo's Fire (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986), Weekend at Bernie's (1989), The Joy Luck Club (1993), Mulholland Falls (1996), Heaven Must Wait (2001), Lipstick Jungle (2008-09), Gossip Girl (2009) and White Collar (2011).