sees dead people.
Kate Hudson moves from romantic comedies to a supernatural
thriller and feels right at home in a haunted house, reports LAWRIE
Switching from her usual, bubbly image to playing the caregiver
of a mute, elderly man in a foreboding house where strange things
happen was not that much of a stretch for Kate Hudson.
She grew up in -- and now owns -- a house in Pacific Palisades,
California, previously occupied by James Whale, British-born director
of movies such as Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein
Strange things have happened there, too.
``I do believe there's a spirit in my house,'' Hudson said in New
Orleans, where her new supernatural thriller, The Skeleton Key,
``It hasn't done anything crazy yet, but it would be one of those
still, LA days and a plant in the den would start to move, do weird
``My mum has had more experiences with this spirit than I have,
so she would be a better person to ask.''
Hudson's mother, the ebullient Academy Award-winner Goldie Hawn,
bought the house when she was married to singer Bill Hudson and
six months pregnant with Kate.
``I lived in it until I was 12, then she built another house,''
said Hudson, 26, who is married to rock musician Chris Robinson
and has a son, Ryder, 19 months.
By the time Hawn sold the house, she was divorced from Hudson --
with whom she also had a son, Oliver, 28 -- and in a relationship
with actor Kurt Russell. Hawn and Russell (together for 22 years)
have a son, Wyatt, 19. Bill and Kate Hudson were estranged for many
years and she refers to Russell as ``my Dad''.
``Somebody else lived in the house for about 12 years, then put
it on the market and I bought it back,'' Hudson said.
``So now I'm back in the house I grew up in and, you know, living
in the master bedroom where my parents made my beautiful little
James Whale (1899-1957) was the subject of Bill Condon's 1998 movie
Gods and Monsters. The film covered the last years of his life,
during which he developed a relationship with his gardener, former
Marine Clayton Boone, played by Brendan Fraser.
``Sometimes I feel like it's either him or his lover who are still
there,'' Hudson said, laughing as she added she could now imagine
the ``Kate Sees Dead People'' headlines.
``It's a very creative house. You definitely feel something going
on in there.''
The house in The Skeleton Key -- Felicite Plantation, built in 1847
on the Mississippi River about half-way between New Orleans and
Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- contains a more sinister energy.
Hudson plays Caroline Ellis, a sceptical young woman with no time
for local superstitions, who takes a job as carer to Ben Devereaux
(John Hurt), left almost paralysed and mute after a stroke.
His wife Violet (Gena Rowlands) entrusts Caroline with a skeleton
key that unlocks every door -- including one she discovers hidden
by a bookcase in the attic.
That room contains artefacts apparently connected to the practice
of a Louisiana bayou brand of magic known as hoodoo, used locally
for healing, control and good (or bad) luck.
``I thought it was some made-up thing, actually, when I read the
script, but it's definitely real,'' Hudson said.
``There were a lot of people on the set who were well versed in
it and we had some interesting conversations.
``You look at people who are sceptical and they're like, `You're
crazy'. But no, these things have been going on since the beginning
of time. You have to open yourself up to at least experience what
other people have experienced.
``I was raised Jewish, but not a practising Jew. My mother is a
Buddhist, which lends itself to a lot of the spirit world and opening
yourself up to everything. I believe in the whole spirit world.
I believe in manifestation of energy and I believe we are among
something that is greater than we are.
``I travel with crystals. I always travel with some kind of water,
like spray water. It's not holy water, but they say when you're
around negative energy, it's important to cleanse yourself with
water. I do stuff like that and I always travel with sage. If I'm
feeling weird or strange, I'll sage myself.
``When you really believe in these little rituals, they can help
you to clarify your spirit or to clear energy away to help you feel
better. It's the same thing as being religious -- why do people
pray, why do people go to church, believe in God?
``It allows you to step outside of yourself and be able to give
yourself out into the universe so things can come back to you, I
Whatever, it seems to be working for Hudson. British director Iain
Softley (The Wings of the Dove, K-Pax) wanted her so badly for The
Skeleton Key that he delayed the movie almost a year when she became
pregnant with her son.
``When I got pregnant I said, `I would love to do this, but I totally
understand if you have to make your movie','' Hudson said. ``When
they said they were going to wait, I was honoured.
``I always say if you work hard, if you treat everybody with respect
and you're part of the team, I really think people want to continue
to work with you. That's all I can hope for.''
Hudson had never done a thriller, but said accessing fears was ``a
lot easier than trying to tell a joke or to walk that really fine
line you walk when you're doing something that's funny''.
A bigger problem was quickly losing the more than 30kg she put on
during her pregnancy with Ryder.
``I had to work at it really hard,'' Hudson said. ``But you've just
got to be determined.''
article appeared in IE, The Sunday Herald Sun, August 7 2005)