The new millennium opened with a year filled with delicious pop culture. Coldplay painted the radio yellow, “The Sopranos,” and “Sex and the City” broke cable records, and Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut, “Almost Famous,” introduced audiences to the always underrated Patrick Fugit and the dewy-eyed Kate Hudson. We fell in love with Hudson’s Penny Lane, as did the Oscar® voters, who rewarded her with a Supporting Actress nomination. At 21 years old, and only a few acting roles under her belt, everything was looking up for Kate Hudson.
Our gal Kate wasn’t a stranger to the spotlight, of course. She was brought into this world by another dewy-eyed blonde, Goldie Hawn, who earned her own Oscar nomination (and win) at the age of 25 for “Cactus Flower” (the inspiration for fellow Dude: What’s Up recipient Adam Sandler‘s vehicle, “Just Go With It”). That each woman achieved both critical and commercial success so early is not surprising. That Hawn was able to maintain it over several decades while Hudson has not is puzzling. It takes some sleuthing to get to the bottom of the Hudson/Hawn conundrum.
Kate Hudson has headlined the Peoples and In Styles of the world starting with her first marriage to Black Crowe Chris Robinson in 2000. The Hollywood legacy, age difference and rocker/actress combination was too much for the paparazzi to resist. Her adorable son Ryder, divorce, and subsequent childbearing relationship with Muse singer Matthew Bellamy (not to mention her brief romance with Yankee Alex Rodriguez) has kept her in the magazines. Despite all of this, she has done a decent job of maintaining as private of life as possible (i.e. not being caught shoplifting/wasted/flashing the cameras getting out of a limo). Could marrying and having a child so young been a detrimental factor to her career?
Probably not. Fame has a tendency to push actresses into early marriages (see: Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, Olivia Wilde et al), but while the marriages tend not to last, their careers rarely suffer. Like her daughter, Goldie Hawn married her first husband young. But neither this marriage nor her second marriage and two children with Bill Hudson hindered her career. To point: The two films that followed Kate’s birth were some of the most successful in Goldie’s career: “Seems Like Old Times” and “Private Benjamin” (both 1980).
Could Hudson just have made some really bad choices? Might her astigmatism for scripts be what’s bringing her down? Looking at some of the bigger box office/critical disappointments, it is possible.
“Le Divorce”: On paper, this film must have looked amazing. A Merchant Ivory film set in Paris co-starring Naomi Watts. What could go wrong aside from everything? The film brought in tepid praise and did nothing at the box office (to be fair, Merchant Ivory films do not have a history of huge box offices).
“The Four Feathers”: This poor, poor film. Not only did it ding Hudson’s career, but also Wes Bentley’s, who was hot off “American Beauty.” The only Feather able to dig himself out from the residual sludge of this film was Heath Ledger, and that took a few years.
“You, Me and Dupree”/”Fool’s Gold”/”My Best Friend’s Girl”/”Something Borrowed”: Wow. These films. Yikes.
And yet Goldie Hawn made a few terrible film choices as well (see: “Bird on a Wire”. Actually, don’t see it.) but was able to follow them up with gems like “Everyone Says I Love You” and “The First Wives Club.” The mystery is why Hawn hasn’t made a movie since 2002’s “The Banger Sisters” (a film for which Hawn received her ninth Golden Globe nomination). Please Goldie, come back to us!
THE ROM COM DECLINE
Out of all of the possibilities, this last one seems to be the strongest source for Hudson’s career shortcomings. The girl was born to star in Romantic Comedies. She shines, she is adorable, she has great comedic timing. You just want her to get the guy. But let’s face it: the romantic comedy ain’t what it used to be. Gone are the days of “Desk Set,” “How to Marry a Millionaire,” and “When Harry Met Sally.” Since 2000, there has been a dearth of quality Rom Coms, and many have been affected. Former America’s Sweetheart Meg Ryan was forced to plump her pout and bare it all in “In the Cut.” Julia Roberts has been able to bypass the decline for the most part thanks to the “Ocean’s 11” franchise and a few other films. Sandra Bullock scooped up “The Proposal,” probably the best romantic comedy in the last decade (before you grumble, I don’t think “Love Actually” is a comedy. And besides, it’s too ensemble-y to be a true romantic comedy), along with “Two Weeks Notice,” which co-starred another victim of the RomCom bubble burst, Hugh Grant.
Wondering if I was the only one who has come to this conclusion, I did a little research and found this great article on Huffington Post that’s worth checking out.
As an illustration, let’s look at a side by side comparison of five of Kate’s films next to five of Goldie’s:
KATE HUDSON / GOLDIE HAWN
My Best Friend’s Girl (Razzie Nomination) / There’s a Girl in My Soup (BAFTA Nomination)
Fools Gold (Razzie Nomination) / Foul Play (Golden Globe Nomination)
Bride Wars (MTV Nomination for Best Fight) / Best Friends (Golden Globe Nomination)
You, Me and Dupree (Teen Choice Nom.) / Private Benjamin (Oscar Nomination)
Alex + Emma (not even a Teen Choice nod) / Overboard (One of the best 80’s movies period)
Kate Hudson was born in the wrong generation. Like her mother, she is meant for screwball, intelligent romantic comedies, something that is sorely lacking in today’s filmmaking. Her beauty, charm and talent are being wasted on gross out humor, subpar scripts and lacking costars. What’s up, Dudette, is that Kate Hudson’s career black hole is not her fault. She’s just a girl trying to make a dewy-eyed living and has been forced to take what’s out there.
I have eternal hope that her fortune will shift again and she will get much-deserved “Private Benjamin”-esque roles. Looking at her IMDB.com page, perhaps it already has. She is currently filming “Wish I Were Here,” a comedy written and directed by Zach Braff, and is in pre-production for another comedy, “Born to be King,” co-starring Ewan McGregor. Here is hoping one or both films are worthy enough to put Hudson back on the path toward carrying on her mom’s legacy.