Hudson, who plays the female lead in The Four
Feathers, always knew she wanted to be an actor.
The 21-year-old daughter of actors Goldie Hawn and
Bill Hudson obviously has the pedigree, but her family
wanted her to pursue an education before settling
on a career.
graduating from Crossroads, a performing arts school
in Santa Monica, Calif., Hudson was accepted into
New York Universitys Tisch School of Drama
but the budding thesp never got around to enrolling.
Not content to spend four years performing in student
plays, she made her feature debut essaying,
appropriately, an aspiring actor in Blue
Desert (1998), and went on to play a newly deflowered
hipster in 200 Cigarettes (1999) and a
wealthy university coed in Gossip (2000).
it wasnt until she snagged the role of band
aide Penny Lane in Almost Famous
writer-director Cameron Crowes acclaimed
2000 remembrance of the 1970s rock scene that
Hudson became a household name. Her bespectacled visage
singled out for the movies one-sheet, she found
herself nominated for supporting actress
trophies by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences (and its British counterpart), the Screen
Actors Guild, and countless critics organizations.
Considering how large she looms on the Almost
Famous poster, its ironic that Hudson
nearly didnt get the part of Penny. Crowe had
initially cast Canadian Sarah Polley (Go)
in the role. When Polley opted out, Crowe debated
whether he should even move forward with the project.
Hudson, who had already been cast as the lead characters
frustrated sister, begged Crowe to let her audition
for the juicy groupie role.
took 2001 off, but has since kept plenty busy. Last
spring, she shot another 1970s-set comedy-drama, Le
Divorce. Based on the novel by Diane Johnson,
its the most contemporary film directed
by James Ivory since 1989s Slaves of New
York. Over the summer she costarred with Matthew
McConaughey in How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days,
which deals with a single who bets his best friend
he can stay in a romantic relationship more than 10
days only to hook up with a woman dead set
on dumping him. Next she teams with director Rob Reiner
for Alex and Emma, about a vice-riddled
writer who falls for his stenographer.
befits someone whose breakthrough project deals with
the nature of fame, Hudson is surrounded by the famous.
On Dec. 31, 2000, the actor wed a rock star, Black
Crowes frontman Chris Robinson. Older brother Oliver
Hudson just starred in the WB sitcom The Young
Persons Guide to Becoming a Rock Star.
Her mom is an Oscar-winning actor. And actor Kurt
Russell, whom Hudson thinks of as her real Pa,
helped raise her from the age of three. (She is estranged
from her biological father.)
How does her family now feel about her career choice?
I think my parents are just happy that I have
a job, laughs Hudson. Ive got such
great parents. Theyre proud of all the kids.
I think its a parents dream just to see
their kids happy and doing what they want to do.
drew you to the role of Ethne in The Four Feathers?
Working with [director] Shekhar [Kapur] was the big
draw for me. Also, I wanted to play something period,
a small character, not necessarily in size but as
person. That was appealing. The role of Ethne was
very different for me.
Shekhar Kapur said you brought
much more to the role than what was on the page. How
did you accomplish this?
When I read the script I was conscious of the fact
that [a fully-dimensional character] wasnt necessarily
on the page. It was something that Shekhar and I talked
a lot about, how to give the character more of a presence,
because she ties things together, at least in terms
of the two boys stories. Shekhar and I talked
about it over and over again we really did
Ethne easy to relate to?
Not really. Not for me. It was difficult trying to
play a character that goes from one guy to another.
It was hard for me to rationalize how a woman could
make the choice to go from being in love with one
man to being engaged to her loves best friend.
did you make that transition?
I put myself in the time period. The only reason she
would make that choice is, one, she cares about Jack
[played by Wes Bentley]. Two, she believes Harry [Ledger]
is dead and that she should move on. And three, as
a woman in 1884 you had to keep your life moving and,
you know, be married. Shes the daughter of a
general, somebody who carries on the family legacy
as her mother did. So all those things we subtextually
threw in to make it clear she was making a difficult
decision. It wasnt something malicious
it could have been somewhat malicious. Or it could
have been very passive, but Shekhar and I wanted it
to be a difficult decision for her.
you had to choose between two men, it couldnt
have hurt that those two men were Heath Ledger and
(Laughs.) No, those boys arent too bad to look
at. That was the easy part.
they fun to work with?
They were. I really enjoyed it, but it was a very
serious movie. We were all working so hard and it
was a very emotional piece. We had our fun in the
most professional way. It was a good experience; a
hard experience but a good one.
shoot was plagued with disastrous weather. How did
you survive the storms?
Oh, man. Oh, my God, the weather was terrible! Actually
I was fine, but I felt bad for everybody who had to
shoot around it. And I felt bad for the people in
wardrobe who had to figure out how we used
a lot of original shoes and [the wardrobe people]
didnt want them to get muddy, so they put garbage
bags on my feet, under my dress, to try to protect
the shoes. They had to lengthen the dresses and let
them get dirty instead. That kind of stuff was a real
you enjoy wearing the period costumes?
Yeah, it was fun. The costumes definitely helped me
with the character. About a month before the movie
started shooting my dialogue coach came from London
and brought a corset with her. I had to put it on
every time we worked together, so I got used to working
in a corset. She would make me go out in public with
it on, which was kind of embarrassing. We had tea
at Tea and Sympathy in New York. It was fun. I think
it was the corset that put me into the characters
mindset. It made me immediately understand the constraints
of being a female living in that time period. Also
I wore very high-necked outfits, so when I wore anything
that was somewhat revealing of the chest it felt almost
risqué. I loved it.
currently shooting How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,
a romantic comedy with Matthew McConaughey, correct?
Yeah, and were having tons and tons of fun.
Theres lots of laughter on this set.
else do you have coming up?
I did Le Divorce a Merchant/Ivory film,
with Naomi Watts and Glenn Close. That was an unbelievable
Because I got to live in Paris for three months and
it was one of the greatest experiences Ive had
so far in my short life. I worked with some wonderful
actors. I got to work with Stephen Fry. I just love
him. And working with Glenn, I really enjoyed that.
Naomi and I had the best time. We truly became sisters.
I got to work with some wonderful French actors and
experience the French film scene. It was just great.
does Le Divorce come out?
Im not sure. I believe sometime next year.
you have anything lined up after How to Lose
a Guy in 10 Days?
After this I do Rob Reiners picture. Its
called Alex and Emma, with Luke Wilson.
Thatll be fun. Lukes a friend of mine
and weve always wanted to work together.
that a comedy also?
Well, its a love story with some comedy. Its
smart and different. Theres a lot happening
right now. I took a year off and now Im just
working a lot until I can take another year off.
did you do during that year?
I decided I wanted to be a wife for the first year
that Chris and I were married. After all that stuff
with Almost Famous I was really tired
and I thought it was a good time to reevaluate and
just be with Chris and have fun. I think its
important to rejuvenate once in a while. Im
so young. I dont want to feel like Im
in a rush. I dont ever want to feel like Im
in a rush.
of Almost Famous, was it overwhelming
to receive an Oscar nomination so early in your career?
Yeah, it was overwhelming, but at the same time it
was an incredible experience. I felt really blessed
and lucky, but also I think a good way to start off
a career is to get nominated and lose. You get an
interesting perspective on whats important.
you werent at all disappointed that you didnt
I wouldnt say I was disappointed because theres
a part of me that is kind of
I believe theres
a reason for everything, but Id lie if I didnt
say that when youre sitting in that seat youre
thinking I wanna win this damn thing!
Thats the soccer player in me, but thats
what I mean by its great to get that perspective
so young. It doesnt mean anything. What means
something is that people enjoy your work, and hopefully
theyll continue to enjoy it. Deborah