The McCarthy Trails

After coming across his fair share of forks down the road, the former Brat Packer adds a few more jobs to an ever-growing portfolio of accomplishments—including his most recent feat, becoming a father of three.

Makeup & hair by Kecia Littman of
Shot on location at Aulani A Disney Resort & Spa

Flash of pink sprints across the bridge at Aulani’s Waikolohe Valley, as a spritely 7-year-old makes her way past the small group surrounding Andrew McCarthy. “Oh, there goes my daughter,” he reveals between camera takes. The father-daughter duo made their way here last year in early fall since McCarthy was asked to headline the 2013 Hawai’i Tourism Conference.

Keynote speaker for a conference catering to the travel industry? How does McCarthy fit in with that group? Quite well, actually. Lately, the 51-year-old’s byline has been appearing in magazines like Travel + Leisure, Afar and National Geographic Traveler, just to name a few. Aside from penning articles for a medley of publications, McCarthy also has a New York Times Best Seller under his belt—a book that’s equal parts personal memoir and vivid travel tome.

But before we go into recent claims to fame, McCarthy’s greatest hits started on the silver screen three decades ago, all the way back to 1983’s Class where he co-starred with Rob Lowe and Jacqueline Bisset. After that, even more movies ensued. Anyone who grew up in the ’80s couldn’t help but be entertained by the characters he played in films such as Weekend at Bernie’s and Mannequin; and if you were a teenage girl in those days—when The Brat Pack reigned supreme—no one could hold a torch to the oh-so charming, yet sensitive-souled archetypes McCarthy portrayed in Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire and Less Than Zero.

McCarthy continues to act, but somewhere in between the haze of Hollywood and a Spanish sojourn, he unearthed a new passion—travel. An excerpt from his book, The Longest Way Home, chronicles the cathartic moment:

“I returned home changed by my experience. The acute euphoria of my trip faded, but my sense of self lingered and went deep. And so I began to travel, not for work, but for travel’s sake. I returned to Europe, to the cities I had been to before, rewriting my drunken travel history and giving myself clear-eyed recollections. I began to take longer trips, to Southeast Asia and then Africa.

Always alone. Often I arrived with no plan, no place to stay, knowing no one. I wanted to see how I would manage, if I could take care of myself, and inevitably found myself walking through fear and coming home the better for it. 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.”

And so another career flourished. Now an editor-at-large at National Geographic Traveler—a title that McCarthy humbly/ jokingly reveals, “means absolutely nothing”—writing assignments have since taken him to the ends of the earth and back, including Hawai’i. Not that he’s a stranger to the islands. In fact, McCarthy lived in Kihei for almost a decade, from 1986 to 1994. However, the unassuming home has since been demolished. “I rented a lovely little shack, literally a little old surfing shack, and they sold it because the property it was on [Keawakapu Beach] was worth a fortune. It was fun while it lasted.”

Though McCarthy currently resides in New York with wife Dolores Rice, 7-year-old daughter Willow and newborn son Rowan (McCarthy also has an 11-year-old son, Sam, from his previous marriage to Carol Schneider), he hasn’t forgotten his days on Maui, nor has his interest in Hawai’i waned. From discovering Maui’s best banana bread bakers for Bon Appétit to covering Honolulu for his latest feature in National Geographic Traveler, Hawai’i is one stop that merits a repeat visit or two.

“I find any place can be extremely interesting or not interesting depending on me. Usually if it’s not, it’s probably because I need a nap or a snack,” McCarthy says. “Often once is enough, but there are many places I’d love to go back to—none of the thrill is gone. I think travel is sort of an internal thing, too; it feeds you internally. I haven’t been travelling for six months now and I’m dying to get on the road again. Not that I want to go somewhere, but I want feel that sense of movement in going. If you have that inside you, it’s something that you need to feed.”

The six-month travel hiatus is due to another role that’s taken center stage—playing dad to his 3-month-old son, Rowan. He still manages to churn out a few stories here and there, sans the solo-travel angle. He says, “The stories that I’m writing [involve] things that we can do as a family. [For instance,] I had a big story that I was doing on heritage in Ireland, so the whole family went over for that. …” Take a look at the piece he wrote for the September 2013 issue of Town & Country, and you’ll find his story discusses becoming a father at 50—a very different kind of journey, indeed.

Two a.m. feedings and zero sleep aside, not to mention keeping travel plans at the barest of minimums, or at least more family-oriented, McCarthy manages to stoke the flames of yet another passion—directing. Working behind the scenes isn’t new for him however, having directed theater and several TV shows since the early 2000s. More and more, requests for “McCarthy as director” are in demand. The previous year kept him busy directing several episodes of acclaimed Netflix series Orange is the New Black, in addition to directing gigs with Amazon series Alpha House, starring John Goodman, CW’s The Carrie Diaries and upcoming limited-series The Black Box on ABC. McCarthy was also tapped to direct the pilot episode of Songbyrd for E!, which just started shooting last month.

From McCarthy’s perspective, directing isn’t all that dissimilar from acting or writing. He says, “When people ask me what the difference is between all these things [acting, writing, directing], I always say it’s all the same—it’s storytelling. Although acting is very subjective storytelling, and directing is very objective, and writing is a combination of the two, they all tap into the same part of me.”

The knack he has for these fields is anything but taken for granted. “Acting saved my life when I discovered it as a teenager, and it gave me a focus and a passion,” McCarthy opines. “I was a terrible student at school so I can’t imagine what I would have done [without acting], it gave me a way of looking at the world… it immersed me emotionally in the world as opposed to being detached, looking at it clinically.

“I often say I’m glad I can do these things—they’ve all been passions of mine, [I say] passions because I have no skill in doing anything—I wouldn’t be able to get a [real] job if my life depended on it.”

For someone claiming to be short on abilities, his publication bylines and continual presence on closing credits seem to prove otherwise.

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