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August 2005
The Skeleton Key: An Interview with Kate Hudson

The Skeleton Key: An Interview with Kate Hudson

By Wilson Morales

For the most part, Kate Hudson has had a fairly steady career. Growing up as Goldie Hawn's daughter and then coming into her own as an actress, Kate's fame was instant and was further expanded due to her amazing performance in "Almost Famous". Since then, she's taken some roles that can be as "cute" with "Dr. T and his Women", and "Alex and Emma". "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" was a box office hit and that put her on another level, an actress who can open a film. In her latest film, "The Skeleton Key", Hudson is taking a serious role playing a hospice worker who is hired to tend an elderly man who can't speak in a New Orleans mansion. Little does she know that evil lies ahead. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Hudson spoke about her in the film and working along with Gena Rowlands.

Were you trying to break away from the good girl roles?

KH: Not initially. I wasn't looking for a thriller or something. I was definitely looking to work with. I wanted to work with interesting people. That's always my hope and desire. But this came and I read it and I loved the script so much. It was actually one of those experiences where I was shooting Raising Helen when I read the script. I kind of picked it up, it was sent to me saying you have to read this and read it fast. I said okay and I picked it up at a lunch break and skimmed the first page. Before I knew it, I was done. I'd finished the script in probably 45 minuets and I thought to myself‹I was shocked at the idea that it's basically a four hander picture. There's five people in the whole movie and it's a character driven thriller that ends unexpectedly and boldly, and a Hollywood studio is going to actually make it. And I thought it was just so refreshing to me. So and then after the initial response to the script, I went, "I have never done a thriller and it will just be really fun for me to heave and pant and run and climb and break windows and scream every once in a while." And also it lends itself to a lot of heavier work. The scene where I run into the house and I'm tied up, it was a lot of character work that was really fun for me to be able to do. It was a real change, it's very different.

Is this character the closest you've played to yourself?

KH: Mm-hmm. It's funny, I think- - I guess I approach all work no matter what type of movie or character the same way. Then there are just some times you have to reach into places that are a little less familiar on a day to day basis in certain characters and others. For this character, it was actually quite accessible to play her. My fears were very accessible to tap into my fears, very accessible to understand why somebody would move to a city because of music or because of a passion. And she's strong minded and a little tough and I feel like she's the kind of girl who's okay being alone even though it might be a little lonely. She's okay with that and I'm like that. So there's a lot of things that I really could relate to.

How has this film changed your view of the supernatural?

KH: It didn't because I've always believed in spirits and supernatural and ghosts. I've always believed in that stuff.

Do you have a red line in your house?

KH: No, but I go through phases. I used to have dreamcatchers and I carried around crystals. I light candles and I visualize things for protection.

So the day the cameras broke, what did you think was going on?

KH: There was always a camera broken which was really weird. And the cinematographer would just be like, "This is the weirdest- - " We had three cameras and different ones usually wouldn't work, pretty much every day.

Which spirits were making that happen?

KH: I don't know.

Did you feel any weird vibes while shooting?

KH: The only time I felt any kind of vibe was when we were doing the spell scene with John. I kind of felt a little bit, especially when we were doing the master shot, the whole scene. There was a moment when he finally said cut it was kind like wow, that was weird. It felt like we were calling on some kind of weird energy. When you're making a movie, not to bring it back to pornography, but if you ever see those documentaries on pornography and they're just like, "Do you want me to stick my butt in the air?" It's like professional and you go this is weird. It's a similar process. You're really not paying attention. Oh my God, I don't know what is wrong with me lately but the headlines are just going to be so embarrassing. Anyway.

Did you ever think they wouldn't use the ending you shot?

KH: A part, I think for everybody, was kind of like- - but the only thing is the only saving grace of that and knowing and having a little bit of inkling that it could never happen is that's the whole movie. The payoff for this movie is the ending. If it was any different, it wouldn't be nearly as fun. But it is bold and as I said, yeah, there was a little fear but not-

Do mirrors freak you out now?

KH: Mirrors always kind of freak me out when it's dark. I don't like sleeping with a mirror in front of me. It's a little weird. I can sleep with a mirror on the ceiling. That was just too funny. Now I'm just being silly.

Being a working mom?

KH: I don't know if I find it difficult, but it is definitely a challenge. You have to be constantly conscious of it I think. It's so easy to just when you have any time just to go right into your child. That's your primary focus is baby every day, morning, noon and night. And then I don't know, it's a constant guilty feeling when you do anything for yourself, when you do anything for your career, when you do anything for your husband, when you do anything with your girlfriends because it's taking you away from time with your baby. But I just have to keep reiterating to myself that it's important for me to make sure that my son knows that we all have lives and everybody's lives are important and everybody's individuality is important. Hopefully they'll grow up like I did realizing that we're never the center of anybody's attention all the time or the center of the universe or all of that.

How different has it been to work with all of those thoughts going on?

KH: It's not difficult. It's just exhausting. You just go home and you're just really tired. You do have moments where you have to have that release, whether it's having to punch a bag, go do a boxing class or whether it's just to cry. It's not of any sadness. It's just a release of pure exhaustion because women especially know when they're mothers, even when they don't have careers, they made the career of being a mom. Your energy, you're always on. It's the same thing as the first time I went away from Rider was a week ago. I'm in Europe and I wake up in the morning, or I come home that night after having dinner with everybody and I'm having a drink and I came home and I'm like, "I've got to get to sleep. I have to wake up in the morning and I've got to get Rider." And I just went, "Rider. Rider's not here." And I had that first initial moment of saying wow, that's always on your mind. So the only time you can really realize how exhausted you are is when you're actually away from it.

Do you make career choices now as a mother?

KH: I don't know if what kind of movie or what kind of character, if being a mother will affect that. But what does affect it for me is time away absolutely, and location. But as I've said, I grew up with very, very work oriented parents and it was really admirable to know that my parents worked so hard. And at the same time, they were always present in our lives, they were always available to us at all times and yet they worked so hard. We got to really see them have their own life and strength. It was a really important lesson.

Were you able to enjoy New Orleans? Did you and Joy (Bryant) go shopping?

KH: Oh yeah. We went out and saw great music. I had the best birthday here. Chris threw me a surprise birthday and a bunch of our friends flew in. I had no idea everybody was coming down. And we went to the Funky Butt and Big Sam and the Funky Nation played which was great. We did a bunch of stuff. We saw great music. That's pretty much what we do. We like to go see music, so we had a really good time. Remember, once the baby's asleep, mommy and daddy can go out and play. And especially in New Orleans when everything is so close.

Was your relationship with Joy Bryant like your real best friends?

KH: Actually, yeah. Nobody's asked me that question. Yeah. And you know what's funny is Joy and I got on so well so fast, we were so easy together, kind of like comfortable and yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Get a lot of beads?

KH: Are you trying to ask if I flashed? No, only for the shower scene. Well, yeah of course. They have parades and stuff and we'd take the baby and they'd throw out beads. It's fun.

Are you inquisitive like the character? Do you want to know what's behind the secret door?

KH: Mm-mm. No. I wouldn't even set foot probably in the attic stairwell. I probably would have seen that stair way and gone, "Hahaha, somebody else can do this because you can go get your own trillians or whatever." But no, I'm kind of a nosey person. If I could look into nooks and crannies of people's lives and find out more about them, just because I like to observe people and their weird secrets and tendencies. So if it opened some kind of little box, I'd probably snoop around in the box. But not something like a door in a dark room.

Any rowboat scene with mosquitoes?

KH: Did he tell that story? Yeah. The funny thing about that thing is, well, first of all, I'm in the P-row which is like a slap on canoe. You're right with the water. The water's right there, you're kind of sunken into the water. There's crocks out in the swamps everywhere. You see them everywhere. They're usually smaller. They're usually like maybe a little bigger than the width of the table. That's not so small. So I'm on this thing and the whole crew's on this pontoon boat. We go out there and it's daytime to begin with. Then the sun starts to go down and that's when the mosquitoes come out and mate. And especially at that time of year it was springtime. Everybody's humping and the mosquitoes come out and it was just crazy. All of a sudden I'm doing this and I'm going and I'm smacking my head. Before I know it, I am literally- - it was like I've never experienced anything like it in my life. It felt like I was in a beehive. I was covered in mosquitoes. And I'm going, "Guys, you know. There's a lot of mosquitoes." I turn around and the whole crew is in head to toe mosquito netting. And I'm going, "That's great. You guys are sitting on the pontoon boat in mosquito netting and I'm sitting literally on top of the water with crocodiles and mosquitoes all over me." I said to Iain, "Hey, I'm happy to keep doing this, but I'm afraid I'm going to wake up in the morning looking like I have the chicken pox. So I don't know what to do. I. Don't. Know. How. To. Act. Scared." Anyway, we had to call it a day because it got really bad and Iain's like, "I think we got everything we need." The Swamp the movie is what it ended up being.

This next comedy, not romantic?

KH: It kind of has a feeling of a Meet the Fockers type of comedy. It's not about romance.


KH: I guess. You know, the Rooster brothers are directing it, the Arrested Development guys, so it's got that kind of far out but at the same time totally accessible, like somebody everybody knows. You know that guy, and that's Dupris. I'm kind of the one who's stuck in the middle of everything and having to deal with him all the time. You know what? Yes, there is some very slapstick comedy that will be going on. You know what? It's very good characters. Every character has its own voice. Every character has a bunch of quirks and is really funny. It was a rare comedy for me to read actually.

Working with Gena?

KH: To work with people like Gena is one of those experiences where you basically say this is everything you ever want to be able to experience when you're young and you're in the beginning phases of your career. And then you get to experience people like Jenna who teach you so much about how- - here's a woman who's delivered some of the most amazing performances of all time. And then to work with her and to see her availability and her generosity, I keep saying the same words but it is what it is. At the end of the day, the two actors who are just really enjoying some really fun scenes that we get to play with each other. And for her to have this incredible career and to be doing it as long as she's done this and then to still come to work and enjoy it is just amazing. And it just goes to show that when people really love what they do, it's usually why they're so talented is they really, really love it. And always discovering new things about themselves new things about human behavior. So Jenna was just a billboard for that for me. You work with a lot of people, some people who are very difficult and very self oriented. In order to get to certain places they need to be very- - feel respected and nobody get into my eyeline and this is about me right now. I'm not like that, and then when you work with somebody like Gena who's not like that, it made me say, "Yeah, you know, I think I'm doing okay. I want to be like that because that to me is so honorable and respectable.

How important was it to be in New Orleans instead of a backlot?

KH: See, but I didn't look at those as difficult conditions. I looked at that as fun and also the total atmosphere of where we were. That's New Orleans. The mosquitoes and the crocodiles, that's not difficult. That was funny and fun and added to everything we were doing. Everything we did in this movie was so enjoyable. The rain, the thunderstorms, the lightning. They had the craziest tropical storms, they would come in and we would use them. It was amazing.

How important to mix and match genres?

KH: It's always been important for me to do that. It's funny because I guess from an outside perspective is very different from being in my perspective which is I'm 26. I really haven't done very many films. Since Almost Famous, I've done five? Six? So I don't feel like- - I don't know. I feel like my age, the roles- - I don't get to walk up to a big bin of amazingly dimensional fascinating characters. I get the young girl who's starting out her life and is cute and perky and falls in love for the first time. And that's great and some of them are really good and some of them are better than others. But for me, I kind of looked at it like that's why I've taken three years off in my career so far. I don't want to rush anything. I don't want to feel like I have to work all the time. I want to wait until I get to an age where I can play more dimensional roles and hopefully I'm- - I don't know, I still feel young so I don't feel like I've- - making comedies are so much fun. Hands down, fun, you laugh, it takes a lot of energy and boy, you're almost even more exhausted doing that than when you're running through forests all day. Because you have to be so energetic. But I feel like I'd be bored if I always did comedies and I feel like I'd be bored if I was always a dramatic actor. I just want to continually find things about the craft and find things about new characters, discover new things about myself and through them or in my life bring them to characters. It's just the funnest business to be in. It's the funniest job. When I get to wake up every day and I get to go on set, I have so much fun. It feels like man, how lucky is that? I just love it.

What do you plan to do for I Dream of Jeannie?

KH: I'm not doing I Dream of Jeannie. The next movie I'm doing is [with] Owen Wilson, You Me and Dupree. It's me, Owen Wilson and Matt Dillon. It's a real comedy. It's not really a romantic comedy. It's a comedy.

Are you doing Can You Keep a Secret?

KH: That's still in development. Yes, with Linda Obst. That's more in the development, still being written.


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