"Who knows if he said it or not," Mac Dowell says, twisting her Medusa curls around her long fingers and giving me a look that could turn anyone to stone.
I married because I love my husband." Mac Dowell is edgy because the divorce from her first husband struck many as strange when, only months beforehand, she had been extolling their happiness and praising him for being a house husband, a Mr Mom who cooked and cared for their three children, aged 15, 12 and seven, while she was away filming. She's a star: she could never have made the difficult transition from cosmetics model for L'Oreal to leading actress other than by presenting herself in the most upbeat manner possible. "I have been rejected plenty," she says, in a light southern drawl that can suddenly turn purty crisp when you probe too far.
But now she says, "He was not really Mr Mom any more than I was Mrs Mom. "The only way to make it in anything is to always have another option, so that you don't look desperate." There were times when she nearly gave up.
After her film debut in Greystoke (in which she was humiliatingly dubbed by Glenn Close) she nearly settled for running a nursery school. "Afterwards, all I had to do was hang out in my kitchen and Robert Altman and Peter Weir would offer me parts." Even so, when she spots a good role, she doesn't leave anything to fate.
After reading Four Weddings and a Funeral, she moved heaven and earth to play icily beautiful Carrie, who gets Hugh Grant in the end.
She went into similar overdrive to secure the role in Crush, which is like a Four Weddings for cynics, 10 years on.
Once again, she dazzles against the backdrop of English countryside, churches and vicars - but this time as one of three 40-something women desperately seeking men.Unlike her character in the film, who drinks enthusiastically (along with the local doctor and police chief, played with great gusto by Anna Chancellor and Imelda Staunton), Mac Dowell never took to the bottle. "Drinking has never been the answer for me," she says, "it makes me feel worse." Instead, she took up smoking."The dating process at 40 is just awful," she says, with feeling. You don't want to go to bars, so how do you find a decent person?And you don't want sex for the sake of sex, you want a relationship." Whatever she says about her stability throughout the two-year period in which she was dating prospective "life mates", it sounds as if she went fairly loopy.When Andie Mac Dowell married for the second time last year, her former husband, Paul Qualley, made one of those deceptively warm remarks.He said he was glad for her, if it now meant that she could provide their three children with more security.