Kate Hudson â Exclusive Print Interview â New Orleans, August 2005
THE SKELETON KEY
by Johanna Juntunen
Q: What kind of effect did New Orleans and the South have on you?
A: I was affected greatly because I fell in love with New Orleans, and for those of us who spent a lot of time there, it brought ambience to the film and a real understanding of the city and why people get sucked in. It played lot of the themes that this film speaks of. Q: Did you change spiritually?
A: No. I've been always in touch with...it wasn't the first time I've been to New Orleans, and I've always been fascinated about where we go (after death) and what we are doing here. For me, spending time and living in New Orleans was just about falling in love with the city. To be able to walk on the street and listen to some amazing blues guitar player in a beautifully constructed, old, worn-out bar is amazing.Q: Do you believe in supernatural things like those in the movie?
A: I believe that it exists and it can happen. I believe in ghosts and spirits. Q: Do have a strange experience regarding that?
A: I've had a lot of them, yeah. I mean, haven't you seen a ghost?
Q: You feel their presence?
A: Yeah. But I've also seen a ghost, actually two ghosts.
A: I saw one in my house in Oregon, when I was very little, in my grandmother's basement. I saw one in Paris at a house I was living in. I walked into a room in London where we were shooting Four Feathers, in this crazy old castle, mansion type place...
Q: Were you scared?
A: No, I wasn't scared, it just feels weird. It depends.
A: Sometimes they're in no form but light, sometimes they're in total form but you only see certain parts of their body, sometimes you see the whole thing, sometimes you just hear them.
Q: You have to be receptive to them?
A: Yeah, I think there are people who are. Some people are more susceptible to it than others, and I think that you can turn it on and off. Some people who are susceptible to it don't want to have anything to do with it.
Q: Has motherhood made you more sensitive in that sense?
A: I haven't experienced anything in a long time, maybe it's closed off something. But I can walk into anybody's house and I can flat out tell you if it's haunted. I can feel weird energy in houses. Like, we were in a hotel in Indiana and we walked up to a floor and I was walking through this weird hallway. My whole body just got the chills and I was like "I don't like this hotel".
Q: Did you stay there?
A: No, we were there only for a couple of hours. We didn't sleep there.
Q: Were you apprehensive doing the movie?
A: No, not at all.
A: I think every performance is different. I'm always hoping that your life experiences can translate as you get older. You kind of grow up on screen. New experiences and learning new things and incorporating them in your work.
I think this was a huge transition for me. I feel like, it's the first time when you really understand how to be totally present because you have to be present with your children. You think your whole life "I'm present!" in what I do, and "I'm present!" with you, and then you realize that you're not present at all when you have a child, because that's true presence. I feel that it translated into work, like I could go to work and be more focused and more present in my work because now I have the tools to understand what that is.
Q: Do you feel closer to your mom since your baby was born, like "oh, now I know..." kind of a way?
A: And my dad, my parents. It's not that I feel closer... it's like, when you have children you realize that "god, my parents were doing the best they could". You look up to your parents like "you're my parents, you're my god, you must teach me everything". You look at them as children again, like they are everything.
Q: Were you parents young when they got you?
A: My mom was 33 and Kurt was 31, he met my mom when she was 36. I looked at this man who was this big man, and knew everything. And he was just doing the best he could.
Q: And you see yourself in the baby?
A: Oh, yeah, it's your first relationship. You do and emulate what you see. I see him mocking me all the time. He's always doing things that I know I do. I always do this little thing, when somebody says something and I do a little "ha-ha-ha" (chuckles and turns her head to the side), and that's his whole thing now! (laughs) And I'm like "oh, my god". He'll take my purse and go "mama, bye-bye!" (laughs).
Q: Would you like to have another one?
A: Oh, yeah, I'd like to have a few more babies.
Q: How has it been working with such good actors during your career, and having met so many of them through your parents?
A: I think that when you really love what you do, people's obsession with celebrity doesn't really mean anything, it's really the work and talent that means something to you. There are some people that you go "yeah, I'm excited to work with that person" (with an indifferent voice), and certain people you go "oh, man, this is why I always wanted to be an actor", because of people like this, people like Gena Rowlands and John Hurt. And you see certain performances and you go "man, that's it!" A Woman Under the Influence, The Elephant Man...and then to get the opportunity to work with them and to realize that they are, Gena for instance, generous and available and always wanting the best for the movie not herself, and after so many years enjoying her work. That's a phenomenal thing to see.
It makes you realize like "yeah, this is why." I work with a lot of people who are difficult and with people who say things like "nobody can look at me when I'm acting" (in a pompous voice). And then you go "maybe I need to be more like that, am I doing things wrong here? They seem to be working fine, they are at the top of their game". And then I meet people like Gena and I go "yeah, wow, I'm doing OK" and I get to learn so much from that experience with her.
Q: You learn just by looking at her work?
A: This is something that Kurt always says...and I feel that I have a similar method to him, or the way that I work is a lot like my dad's. I loved watching his honesty, I love the way he works with actors, like Gena he has the same availability and generosity, and I love the way works, communicates with the director. I learned a lot from Kurt in that respect. Another thing that my dad always said was, that in this business, when it comes to people who are difficult in ways, those things are totally short lived.
Q: How is your mom's method?
A: She's a hard worker, she works differently. For some reason the way I am on set is a lot more like Kurt.
Q: How did you like the physicality of this role?
A: I loved it, I had so much fun. I grew up with so many boys, you know. I was always running around and trying to beat them at everything. For me it was the first time when I got the script and went "I get to breathe heavy, run around, not wear glamour makeup all the time which drives you crazy..."
Q: And you didn't have to smile that much?
A: Which was nice! It was great. I love being an actor. I've always been an actor. I grew up dancing but I was a very athletic girl (laughs) believe it or not. I was a little soccer player, I was very good. I was a tough cookie. So it was nice being able to do that kind of stuff.
Q: Do you still do sports?
A: Any time I get an opportunity.
Q: Like running after your son?
A: Anything. Soccer was my big sport but I like volleyball and golf as well. I still play when I get an opportunity which is not very often. I'm really into pool right now for some reason. That's not really a sport but it's fun. Pool's a fun, competitive game. I have an athletic, very competitive side to me.
Q: Are you going to be a soccer mom?
A: (laughs) I'm going to be like Kurt. I'm going to be on the sidelines screaming at the ref with my five year old son. Like (screams) "this is not the way you play soccer!!! and he's five. That's totally how I'm going to be (screams) "how dare you take him out, he's your best player? I feel like that (laughs). Oh, me and Kurt are really going to be really funny on the sidelines at Ryder's baseball games (laughs). We're a competitive family; my brother's a hockey player, Kurt was a baseball player and my cousin is a professional baseball player. That's what we did. Every weekend, every day after school we were always playing some kind of sport. We grew up on a ranch, I grew up riding horses, ATVs and motor cross bikes.
Q: How does competitiveness in sports translate into your work?
A: I'm very competitive with myself. I think there's a certain athlete's mentality that you're always trying to get better, always. I do think that's something...growing up and loving sports rubbed off on me. And I've spent a lot of time around athletes, I dated an athlete. I always felt connected to athletes because that mentality of dedication is so important in anything. And athletes know better than anybody about dedication because they have to be so finely tuned and dedicated to be a professional athlete, to be at the top of their game. I think that's where my competitiveness comes in as an actor. I've never been competitive with other people. I'm not a threatened person or jealous but I have to challenge myself.
Q: Isn't it very difficult, always wanting more and more from yourself?
A: It can be. But I love it. I think that anybody who is in the creative industry should know that those are things that should be fueling them. There's madness to anything creative that you do. Hopefully you're comfortable enough and that doesn't mean to go crazy but if you don't have that desire to always be better, always make it better, what are you doing?
Q: When you get an Oscar nomination does that tell that you are going to the right direction?
A: Yeah, or that I just made a right choice or got lucky. Thank goodness Cameron wanted me in the movie, and I started off my career on a really hot and high note (laughs).
Q: Which comes first, family or career?
A: Family hands down.
Q: Would you be able to sacrifice a great movie in order to be with your family?
A: I would sacrifice anything for my son. Luckily I don't have to. But if it came down to a decision, hands down.
Q: How do you deal with the guilt when your son is at home and you're working?
A: It's hard. I remember that my mom always said that "I always feel so guilty". Well, carry on, you'll feel guilty for the rest of your life. You got to do what you got to do. You're going to feel guilty. There's nothing you can do. I try to look at it like I want my son to grow up knowing that his mom worked hard. He'll appreciate it, he knows how much I love him.
If he doesn't then we're going to have real problems because I can't love him any more. Then I'd just be crazy! You know, don't you want your children to grow up and be adults, meet a girl and go "yeah, my mom, she was amazing mother, she worked hard. She came home and we had so much fun, but she really worked hard". That's something that I really want them to know and be important in their life.
Q: Are you as fearless as Caroline?
A: Well, I'm totally different because I'm not skeptical like she is...
Q: But in the sense that she goes to scary places and stuff?
A: I would go in the exact opposite direction. My fearlessness is in a different area, whereas I do believe in that stuff so I'd be gone.
Q: What are your biggest fears?
A: It's always family stuff. My biggest fear is anything happening to my husband. All those horrible, morbid thoughts that cross your mind, especially in times when bombs are going off and you feel all those people who are losing loved ones every day. Kissing your husband and hoping that he comes back in one piece. Same thing with your children. But I try not to let it paralyze me.
Q: How to you make love last?
A: I don't know. Have fun. I'll have to get back to you on that one in like ten years. All I know now is that like anybody else, we argue just like normal couples but we have really great respect for each other. I really love him so much and I'm so honored that he is the father of my son. But I always think keeping guys on their toes is important.
Q: How do you do that?
A: I don't know. I always say to single women who are like "I'm so miserable, I have nobody", stop being so desperate, get a life! That's it. Go get a life, enjoy it, enjoy being alone, enjoy being happy, go out with your girlfriends, don't put on makeup and get all fuzzied up to go out all the time. Go in jeans and a shirt, and I guarantee that some guy is going to come up to you and go 'I want to hang out with that girl because she has no baggage and she's fun and she got her shit together, and she doesn't need me."
So he is going to go to chase her down. That's the easiest thing to manipulate ever. And I think that when you're married you still have to create those "bye honey, I'm going to New Orleans for four days. I'm going to have fun!" (with sexy and excited voice). And they go "uh, have fun". You're happy and they are happy and it keeps them on their toes.
Q: Are you a big flirt?
A: Yeah, I'm a totally flirtatious person.
Q: Do you like to watch your mom and dad's movies on DVDs, and do you have a collection of their movies?
A: I was going to borrow one last night, and they were playing The Thing on TV. That's a great movie, I love The Thing, it's so good. So no, but I watch on cable if my parents' movies come on that I like, I watch them. I love Silkwood, Seems Like Old Times, god, they made such wonderful films.
Q: Do you like to watch yourself?
A: I don't like to watch myself. I'm not always disappointed but I'm always very critical. I think it's because, when I'm working, I'm being so conscious of being unconscious of the camera, and when I see it, it's me on camera and I forget what I did. First time I see it it's always really hard for me. Part of it is that I'm very competitive and critical.
Q: How was it with The Skeleton Key in that regard?
A: Actually, this movie was better than usual because there was so much visually that I wasn't aware of when we were shooting it. To see it all cut together with sound and interesting shots, it was a whole different experience. I actually (laughs) caught myself on my seat eating popcorn and my mouth was open, my eyes were wide open. I caught myself really engrossed in the movie, and then I told myself to step out of this and look at it objectively. I was like "what do you mean, I don't have to look at this objectively, I can enjoy the movie". It was a new experience for me. The only other time when I had that was Almost Famous when I caught myself with my mouth open and totally engrossed in the movie. I remember walking out of that movie and I was like "was that really good?" First time, don't ask me about the movie. First time I see it, I just go "I don't know if it's good, I don't know what, I think I enjoyed it". But these two movies I got engrossed in and How To Lose a Guy I actually got engrossed in. I'm not a fan of romantic comedies really which is funny, but they're not the kind of movies that I'd go out to see, so it's hard for me to gauge romantic comedies. But with that one I felt "it's funny, right?"
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