Putting in the miles. When Andrew McCarthy set out to travel across Spain by foot, he was “shocked” that his son, Sam McCarthy, was interested in tagging along.
The father-son duo spent 31 days walking the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain — a 500-mile journey. “I did it a quarter century ago when I was a young man and it changed my life. It just changed my life,” the Pretty in Pink actor, 60, exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the release of his book Walking With Sam. “It helped me realize how much, frankly, how much fear had sort of dominated my life in so many ways. And it was very liberating to me.”
Sam, now 21, was “approaching manhood” when Andrew got the urge to revisit the hike. “He was 19 and he was getting ready to leave the house, I just thought, ‘I didn’t want our relationship to end,’ you know?” the Less Than Zero star recalled. “And I just said, ‘One day I’m gonna walk across Spain again. I need to do that again. For some reason. You want to come with me?’ And he said yes. And I was shocked by that.”
The New Jersey native and his son took off for Spain days later. “I knew he would change his mind if I gave him a chance,” Andrew teased. “And I just wanted to be able to spend that time [with him]. And he was going through a lot of stuff in his life. I was going through stuff in my life, and I knew that … walking that distance could kind of burn through a lot of our defenses and a lot of our anxieties and fears and just sort of help bring us home to ourselves and to each other in a certain way.”
The Brat Pack icon knew he’d have “a captive audience” with his son while on their excursion, which provided the perfect opportunity to deepen their bond. “I had that luxury that a parent of adult children rarely gets, which was time. … We’re gonna be together walking all day. There’s no need to push anything,” he told Us, noting that he “didn’t have any agenda” in mind for their conversations.
Their 500-mile walk was “hard and grueling,” but the twosome also found time for fun along the way. “I knew that would allow our relationship to morph from that father-son, parent-child [dynamic], to … more of an equal footing,” Andrew said.
The pair covered a lot of ground — both on foot and in their discussions — and learned more about each other than they’d known before. “I was surprised we talked about my divorce from his mom,” the St. Elmo’s Fire star mused, referring to ex-wife Carol Schneider, to whom he was married from 1999 to 2005. “We talked about that a lot. I was surprised that was still something that he needed to keep working through.”
Sam was still a toddler when his parents split, and Andrew found that his son could understand the situation “differently” now. “I think we were constantly surprised [by each other],” the author told Us. “I think one of the happiest surprises was that there was a lot of delight in the trip. There were constant fights, for sure. But there was a lot of delight and laughter, which is … a relief to discover.”
The Weekend At Bernie’s actor recaps his travels in Walking With Sam: A Father, a Son, and Five Hundred Miles Across Spain, which hit shelves on Tuesday, May 9. Andrew told Us that he saw a change in his son from start to finish.
“On the second day of the trip, he said, ‘Dad, what is the point of this effing walk?’ … He was like, ‘Is there an airport in the next town?'” he teased. “So I knew where his brain was. And then on the last day of the trip, he said, ‘Dad, this is the only 10 outta 10 thing I’ve ever done in my life.’ So, he had the journey I knew he would have if we just kept going.”
The Orange Is the New Black director — who also shares daughter Willow, 17, and son Rowan, 9, with wife Dolores Rice — even gave his eldest child some words of wisdom about navigating fame. Sam played Charlie Harding, the older son of Jen Harding (Christina Applegate), on Netflix’s Dead to Me from 2019 to 2021.
“This all sounds so cliché, but [I told him], ‘Just go to work,'” Andrew recalled. “Because the fame comes and goes and the attention comes and goes. But if you find joy in actually working, then that will be your solace all the time. … I found that true in my life. Success comes and goes and things hit that you never thought would hit, and other things that you thought, ‘This is for sure gonna be a good,’ disappear without a whimper.”
Writing the book took “about a year” — and it was worth every step. “You sort of live your life forward and put it together in hindsight. That’s sort of what I did with the book,” Andrew told Us. “I just wrote down, documented little notes along the way. And then … when we got home, after a few months, opened up the notebooks and kind of went, ‘Huh, what do I got here?'”
Walking With Sam is available now. For more from the Good Girls alum, watch the video above and pick up the new issue of Us Weekly Wednesday, May 10.
With reporting by Stephanie Webber