PLAYBOY: Your latest film, Skeleton Key, is a horror thriller. This is a big change for you, as you’re known mostly for romantic comedies. How was the experience different from what you’re accustomed to, aside from needing to scream more?
KATE HUDSON: It’s not a screamy movie. It’s a “what’s behind the door” movie. It has more psychological elements than most of the horror movies that come out now, with the effects and blood and weird creatures. I have maybe one scream in the movie. One big scream. It didn’t feel any different from what I’ve done before, except that it’s a different character and different circumstance. I mean, sure, there were more head spins than laughing. And it didn’t hurt that I’d just had a baby when we shot it. Because I was breast-feeding and I had actual tits. In every thriller, there has to be a girl running through the house or the woods with no bra on. I could actually do that this time. If we shot it today, that’d be impossible. I had a very different body at this time. My breasts really helped my character. It fit in perfectly with the genre. Who woulda thunk it?
PLAYBOY: You play a nurse in the movie. Please tell us that you wear a revealing and low-cut nursing outfit.
KATE HUDSON: No, sorry. I actually play a hospice worker. I have the nurse jacket overcoat, but it’s nothing that guys would be very excited about. You’re thinking of Jenna Jameson’s version of Skeleton Key. That should be coming out soon, and it’ll be fantastic.
PLAYBOY: Rumor has it that you got a lot of bruises on the set. Did you do your own stunts?
KATE HUDSON: Some of them, yeah. It was the first time I’d done a film that was so physically demanding. There was a lot of heaving and running and being out of breath. The wonder of filmmaking, they make everything look much more graceful in the finished product than how it felt in the actual moment. I had to climb up a two-story trellis that was breaking, and I slashed my hand. But it was so much fun. It brings out the athlete in me. You get to go home and show off your scars. There were stunt doubles that did some of the more dangerous stuff. I just love stunt doubles. They’re some of my favorite people. Look at what they do for a living. They jump off buildings and fall down stairs and fling themselves out of helicopters. I like things that are challenging. Maybe it’s because of my dad. Kurt [Russell] does most of his stunts and he’s super athletic.
PLAYBOY: Most of your characters have been cute, lovable, happy-go-lucky women. When you got the role in Skeleton Key, were you consciously looking for a script that didn’t require you to smile?
KATE HUDSON: It was nice not to smile. I don’t think I smile once in the movie. By nature, I’m a happy person. I feel very blessed and I try to enjoy every day and be happy. But in terms of acting, it’s nice to get a script where you’re breathing heavily rather than giggling. So many times, I’ll go to a looping session for a film and the script will say, “Reel twenty: giggle.” And you’re like, “Oh great, another giggle.” I mean, I’m proud of the movies I’ve been lucky enough to do. I enjoy making people feel good. But I also think that it’s nice to be able feed yourself as an actor, and switch things up a bit. I love my job. I love portraying other people and characters, and that’s hopefully what my career has in store for me. If not, I’ll quit.
PLAYBOY: You can’t seem to shake the label as “America’s Sweetheart.” You’re constantly described as bubbly and cheerful. We’d like to give you a chance to change that. What’s the meanest thing you’ve ever done?
KATE HUDSON: [Laughs] That’s a horrible question. I would never consider myself a mean-spirited person. I was the butt of a lot of mean people growing up, and it’s hard not to be effected by that. Believe it or not, I’ve done a few things that I haven’t been proud of. I don’t think I want to admit to any of it. I don’t regret what I’ve done, but I’m not necessarily proud of it. I’ll just say that they usually entail men.
PLAYBOY: Oh come on, you can do better than that.
KATE HUDSON: Well, I’m really honest, which sometimes can be mean. I’m the first one to tell my girlfriend that she doesn’t look so good. It can come across as being mean. But I’d rather be honest than look somebody in the face and lie because I want them to like me.
PLAYBOY: Your first public performance was at a fifth grade talent show, where you danced to Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation.” Did you manage to pull it off without any wardrobe malfunctions?
KATE HUDSON: Not at all. It was spectacular. I did my own choreography, and I won first place. [Laughs] I can’t believe I’m even talking about this. It was really, really funny. I remember winning and being so excited by it. It’s those little things in your life that makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. And then I went to the bathroom to collect my things, and these girls from the sixth grade had gone through my bag and thrown everything around the bathroom. And they used my lipstick to write “You suck” on the mirror. I took it like a champ, though. I wasn’t afraid of rejection. No wonder I can take criticism so well. I was always okay with putting myself out there knowing that people like to knock you down.
PLAYBOY: You started your acting career playing virgins, first in 200 Cigarettes and then in Gossip. What is there about you that makes a director think, “She’d make a great virgin?”
KATE HUDSON: Well, believe it or not, at the time I was at the age where some girls are still virgins. I don’t know, I’m not a man. I’m assuming it’s a compliment, in a weird way. What is the fascination with virgins, anyway? Is it that they’re untouched? Guys want to be the first to get in there? I think I just answered my own question. I definitely wouldn’t want to date a virgin. It’s totally different for us. Women want the top dog, and guys want somebody who is ripe, somebody pure and uncorrupted. It’s very primal. Unfortunately, these days, it’s also unrealistic.
PLAYBOY: In your films, you’ve had an affair with a younger man (Almost Famous) and an older man (Le Divorce). Who do you prefer, the grandson or the grandpa? Who makes a better fictional lover?
KATE HUDSON: The grandson. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around women who date men their father’s age. I just don’t understand that. It’s not that it seems creepy, but I’d imagine that you’d want somebody active and sprite and energetic. Maybe it’s just my personality. I would rather guide than be guided. [Laughs] I don’t believe I just said that! And that’s totally gonna be in the interview! I don’t know, I guess it has something to do with coming from the age of Sex-Ed, too. You know, “You’re sleeping with everybody they ever slept with.” I’m sticking with my answer. The grandson.
PLAYBOY: So what does a 16-year old boy know about women that an adult man doesn’t?
KATE HUDSON: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Let’s not go to 16! First of all, I wasn’t sleeping with William in Almost Famous. It was a sweet kiss while I was ODing on quaaludes. It was more of an intimacy between two young people. As for what younger men know about women, well, it’s all relative. I’m sure there are men in their 60s who don’t know the first thing about women, and boys who are 16 that know everything they need to know. I’ve always thought that age means nothing, as long as you’re not robbing the cradle.
PLAYBOY: You’re married to Chris Robinson, the lead singer for the Black Crowes. How did a nice girl like you end up shacking up with a rock star?
KATE HUDSON: I hear that all the time. “What is she doing with a guy like him?” To be honest, I asked myself a similar question. Why have I fallen so deeply in love with somebody when obviously our lives don’t parallel each other at all? But they actually did, in ways that I didn’t expect. I think marriage needs to be an open book, where you can talk about everything and have the freedom to make mistakes. Are two people supposed to be with each other for the rest of their life? I don’t believe that’s realistic. That’s just my own personal opinion. But it’s the pressures that people put on marriage that make you forget why two people can grow and live together and continually respect each other. This idea of having the perfect marriage just doesn’t exist. It’s a fucking blast to commit yourself to one person and discover each other and completely open yourself up to one person. It’s a beautiful thing. But you have to be realistic about it, and with each other.
PLAYBOY: So being married to a rocker doesn’t involve a party every night, with strippers in the punch bowl and drugs on the coffee table?
KATE HUDSON: [Smiles] Rock and roll, man. Rock and roll. [Laughs] What can I say? I’m a rock and roll kinda girl. The whole rock lifestyle turns me on. But no, it doesn’t involve a party like that every night. You’re forgetting my husband is in the Black Crowes, not Motley Crüe.
PLAYBOY: You played a groupie in Almost Famous. Because of what you learned from the film, any you more fearful about groupies lusting after your husband or less?
KATE HUDSON: I’m not by nature a jealous person. I kinda like the idea that there are women out there who would like an opportunity to be with my husband, or are turned on by his music. In a way, that keeps things exciting and fun. But groupies have changed since the 70s. Back then, most of those women were just really inspired by music. It didn’t always involve wanting to attain them. I mean, that was the case for some of them. You see a film like [the Rolling Stones documentary] Cocksucker Blues, and you’re like, “Whoa, whoa! Ladies! Relax!” It’s just wild. But that’s why I love rock and roll. It can be really, really crazy.
PLAYBOY: Given all the troubles and in-fighting in the Black Crowes, have you ever worried that you might be perceived as the band’s Yoko Ono?
KATE HUDSON: Well, I was a big fan of the band before I married Chris, and the last thing I wanted was for them to get so sick of each other that they had to break up, which is inevitably what happened. But that had nothing to do with me. It was about these guys spending the past decade-and-a-half on the road together, without much time off. I can take a little responsibility. Chris and I were attached at the hip. His dad said it perfectly, “You two are like Velcro.” We spent a lot of time together on the road, and that can be hard. I was a new person in an atmosphere that has existed for much longer than we did as a couple. But I stayed out of everything, in terms of the band’s whole vibe. I tried to be supportive of Chris and that’s it. I didn’t want to get involved.
PLAYBOY: A lot of actresses, like Lindsay Lohan and Minnie Driver, have put out rock albums recently. Have you ever considered a second career as a rocker?
KATE HUDSON: No! Because of my marriage to Chris, I have a totally different perspective on music. I’ve seen that it can be such a difficult career choice. And as a music fan, I enjoy artists who are really devoted to their music and have something to say. So if I did that, I’d feel like a fraud. That’s just my personal taste. I don’t think that music should be taken lightly. That’s why so many MTV-type artists can’t tour. You can watch somebody’s video and see them on US Weekly, and they’re wearing all the right clothes and packaged in the right way, but they can’t travel with a touring band.
PLAYBOY: While working on the film Le Divorce, you developed an appreciation for lingerie. Please tell us about this, going into as much detail as possible.
KATE HUDSON: I’ve always been a sucker for lingerie. I love the ritual of it. When you go to a lingerie shop, everything smells beautiful because there are yummy powders and perfumes and lotions. It’s a really nice, sensual ritual that I’ve always enjoyed. The only problem is that you can only keep lingerie in your closet for so long. You can’t wear the same outfit ten times in a row. The mystery is over. You need to switch things up.
PLAYBOY: You starred in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, which is about a woman trying to repulse her male suitor. Isn’t it kind of ironic that this topic is explored in a chick flick, which in itself is enough to turn off most men?
KATE HUDSON: I’m the wrong person to ask. I’ve never been the type of person to run out and see romantic comedies. I feel like a good movie is a good movie. If it’s entertaining, I’ll go see it. But I won’t see something just because it’s a romantic comedy, or vice/versa. I totally understand their appeal, though. Girls love to see movies that are about their fantasies, or their idea of what a relationship should be. Guys usually think, “This is totally unrealistic.” But if it’ll make their girlfriends happy, maybe that’s reason enough to see them. Like with anything in a relationship, it’s about compromise.
PLAYBOY: Shortly after giving birth, you and your hubbie visited a lapdancing club in Los Angeles. Is that how a modern mom likes to unwind?
KATE HUDSON: Are you reading those tabloids again? [Laughs] There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun once in a while. I can say that I appreciate beautiful women and beautiful bodies. It was just a spontaneous thing. What’s so crazy about going to a bikini bar? It’s not bizarre to me at all. I can’t understand why people are so fascinated by these things.
PLAYBOY: You were featured in VH1’s “Hot Mamas” special. How can you be a good mother and still remain, well, hot?
KATE HUDSON: I have no idea. I don’t consider myself hot. I like to feel sexy, but I don’t think of myself as objectively sexy. Although being a mother has made me feel more comfortable with myself as a woman. Maybe it’s a hormonal thing. It’s also about finding a balance. I’m in my early twenties, and I want to be able to have fun now and again. But at the same time, it’s most important to me to be a good mother. That’s something that I’m always aware of. But there are still times when I’ll go to dinner with my husband and maybe the occasional strip club. I feel like every once in a while, you gotta blow it out. I can’t forget I have more roles in my life than just mom. I’m a wife, too. So I try to balance all that out. Who knows, maybe I’m doing it wrong. We’ll find out. Get back to me in 18 years.
PLAYBOY: You son is named Ryder. Are we correct in assuming that he was named after a rock song?
KATE HUDSON: It kinda started out as a joke. When I was pregnant, I was on the road with Chris during my third trimester. The last song at their concerts was “Ride,” and he would just go crazy in my stomach. It’s kinda a funk song. It has a lot of bass, and I usually sit next to the stage by an amp and it just got him moving. So we joked that we should call him Ride. They also sang a Grateful Dead tune called “I Know You Rider,” and we thought that was a great name. So it felt perfect and we ended up going with Ryder.
PLAYBOY: We’ve heard that you and Chris sing lullabies to Ryder that involve alcoholics. Any truth to that?
KATE HUDSON: They’re just country songs. Chris comes from the south, and his dad was a folk singer. Most of those songs are about drinking. They’re definitely melodic, but the lyrics just aren’t “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.” Ryder likes that George Jones song. You know, “One drink, just one more, and then another.” A beautiful song, just not a song to use as a learning tool. But he’s a very musical baby. He definitely got his daddy’s genes. All he wants is a guitar. He goes into Chris’s office and goes right for the guitars. I feel like you have to follow your gut when it comes to raising your kids. I don’t have the obsessed idea that Ryder needs to be brought up in an overly protected environment. We want to be very open and honest with him. I mean, when your father has graced the cover of High Times magazine twice, you’re going to have to answer some questions. Kids are a lot smarter than people give them credit for.
PLAYBOY: You’re also something of a cooking aficionado. You’ve been called the “hippie Martha Stewart.” Do you have any plans to host your own TV cooking show?
KATE HUDSON: No, but that might be funny. What would a show by the “hippie” Martha Stewart be like? I guess everything would be based on patchouli? I’d wear a tie-dyed cooking apron, maybe? Or there’d be a bong in the corner with flowers in it? Maybe a mushroom table setting? [Laughs] No, I have no plans to do that. I just like doing domestic things, like cooking and baking. I am absolutely obsessed with the Food Network.
PLAYBOY: Your brother [actor Oliver Hudson] has given you nicknames like “Dumbo” and “Hammerhead Shark.” Which is a better reflection of your personality? Are you a goofy flying elephant or a man-eating shark?
KATE HUDSON: That’s a very good question. I would have to say… god, I don’t know. Do Hammerheads eat humans? I guess I’d go with Dumbo. I’m a little more Dumbo-oriented by nature. Except without the ability to fly. Well, maybe, if I put my mind to it, like he did. Y’know, that’s really a question for my brother.
[Kate retreats to her kitchen and asks Oliver the same question.]
OLIVER HUDSON: Are you kidding me? Definitely the man-eating shark. Without a doubt.
KATE HUDSON: Well, there you go. Just shows you what I know.
(This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in the August 2005 issue of Playboy magazine.)