Arriving in cinemas last week was Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here. A film almost as notable as the way it was paid for as much as the final cut itself, amongst its cast you’ll find Kate Hudson. The same Kate Hudson who spared us a bit of time to talk about it. Here’s how our chat went…
Can you take me back to the first conversation you had with Zach about this?
The first conversation I had with Zach was when I was on vacation with my family and he sent me the script. It was more just like “Hey, read this. I just finished it with my brother” and I read it, and I set on a beach. I was crying, thinking about my family, thinking about my kids, and I called Zach and I was such a proud friend. “You guys wrote a great script,” and then he goes, “Well then, do you want to come do it?” “Yeah, of course! Let’s see if we can make it work.” And then we made it work.
It’s not always that easy, is it?
No. Not even close.
So, as you started speaking about her, about Sarah, what was Zach’s vision of her? Or did he just leave the character on the page for you to find?
It was pretty much there. What I loved about Sarah when I initially read it was that she was such a strong character and these guys, these brothers, wrote the main women in the story as the catalyst for change. I loved that because it’s true. Women really do, I think, in a family dynamic become a catalyst for movement, and change, and reflection, and learning, and trying to be the ones who can actually shift momentum in a family, be the reminder of stepping up and all that. I loved that he wrote that about both his daughter and wife in the movie.
And I think that he wrote Sarah in a way that she didn’t have to stomp her feet, she wasn’t a nag. He didn’t write a stereotypical wife that some people write that I find offensive sometimes. He wrote a real, strong, observant character who knows when it’s time to hit them with the truth.
And if she didn’t, then the story wouldn’t happen.
I think so.
Now, I remember that anecdote about Larry Olivier and Hoffman on Marathon Man where Hoffman stayed up for three nights to try and get himself in bad shape for a scene and Olivier said “Why don’t you just try acting?” Where are you on that scale?
That’s one of my favourite things ever. I am non-judgmental. I really appreciate anybody’s method, but I am more “Why don’t you just try acting?”
I think there’s definitely a time and a place but that’s just what works for me. I have to put it to bed, I have to put it to rest, and for me, there has to be a separation of work and life.
So how do you find the character each time? Is it close reading of the script over and over…
It depends on the movie and what I’m doing, and on how much of the script is really there and what needs to be worked on. Nowadays, I’m not really interested in movies where you hope it gets on the page later. Right now, if a film is going to take me away from my family, I want to see it there on the page and not “hope for the best.” For me, you work on the character obviously with the director but if you can’t see it on the page… well, I know now that I’ve done a couple of movies, that you might be in trouble. Do you know what I mean?
Oh, I know what you mean. Now, in a lot of the writing I’ve read about this film, the word thirtysomething pops up again and again. The fact that these characters are in their thirties really means something to critics. Did you think of it being about a film at this certain period of their life? Do you think it’s relevant specifically there?
I think it can be, but I don’t think it’s so… it’s not like Thirtysomething. What I like about them being young parents and in that part of their life is that it’s a time when you sort of have to really own that you’re an adult, that your 20s are over and there’s now no more excuses.
I think I remember that.
Right? And it’s what people call your prime. You go “What does that mean?” and “If I’m in my prime but haven’t reached my goal yet, what does that say about the rest of my life?” I think it is an interesting time, their 30s, especially if they have kids. Or, you know if they don’t have kids, you see them and they’re like “What does this mean? I don’t have children… shouldn’t I have children now? Shouldn’t I be married now?”
That’s the way I remember it, yeah.
It’s an interesting time. But every decade is an interesting time, it just so happens that these characters are in their 30s.
Have you responded to different things, then, as you’ve gone through your life? Have you felt drawn to material with different themes at different times?
You know, it depends. Sometimes you respond to things and you go after them and you don’t end up doing them, you don’t get them. Sometimes you respond to things and you think they’re going to be one way and they turn out not exactly the way you thought they would. And then sometimes you do something you love and it turns out to be great. It’s a funny industry that way.
I think I’m drawn to things I think will make a good movie. I like making comedies, and I like being in comedic roles, but I also need to… if I only did comedic roles I think I’d get really bored. So I’m constantly looking on different ends of the spectrum. Then when something clicks and feels good, that’s where my direction will go for however long it takes to make it.
Something you said their caught my imagination, so my final question, just quickly. Was there one that got away, a project that you never got that you wanted?
Oh there’s all sorts. Not that they got away but I’m an actor. When you’re a hired gun you’re a hired gun. There are certain movies you’d love to make that you didn’t get. Every actor has experienced that. Unless you’re a producer and a director, you’re getting hired. But then you reach success and it’s really wonderful because people want you in their movies and that feels really good.
But there’s always going to be those movies you wish you were making, where “Oh, that would have been so fun. I would have loved to play that part” but that, I think, is what keeps actors fuelled. Once that goes away – and you see that in a lot of older actors, that feeling has gone away, the “That would have been so fun” – then you’re probably getting close to the point where you’re pretty much over. You do see that in a lot of older actors, where they go “I don’t really wish I was in that movie.”
I can name a few of those actors, I think. Kate, thank you very much, I really appreciate your time.
Wish I Was Here is out now in UK cinemas.
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