UD: Any favorite hangouts in town?
AM: Bix. Whenever I’m in town, I go there. It seems to capture something about San Francisco—the music and the room and that it’s down the alley there.
UD: Cool. If SF were an actress, who would she be?
AM: Whoa. [laughs] Claire Danes? I don’t know, I just saw a picture of Claire Danes at a bus stop so I thought of her. I don’t know, Jacqueline Bisset—I love Jacqueline Bisset. I’d have to think about that... [Editor’s note: McCarthy followed up via email 10 minutes later: “Bernadette Peters - soulful, playful, and with a deep well of feeling.”]
UD: Okay. How did acting prepare you for being a travel writer?
AM: I’ve said so much bad dialogue in my career as an actor, it helped me know really good quotes when I heard them.
UD: Ha, nice. So what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
AM: 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.
UD: Moving on... What film are you most recognized for?
AM: 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.
UD: Makes sense. So where’s the strangest place you’ve been recognized?
AM: 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, f**k. 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.
UD: Wow. Let’s switch it up a bit. Your thoughts on flying in sweatpants?
AM: 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 sh*t. You know? I really think we can do a little better.
UD: Well said.