“Mother’s Day” is a light ensemble comedy, just like Garry Marshall’s other holiday movies (“Valentine’s Day,” “New Year’s Eve”). But at least in the storyline, that stars Kate Hudson, it flirts with something more. The actress, 37, plays a woman whose conservative parents are so Red State she never told them she married an Indian man (Aasif Mandvi) — or that her sister married another woman. Hudson — who worked with Marshall back during 2004’s “Raising Helen” — talks about how he touches on issues with a light hand and the pains (and joys) of social media.
First off, I wanted to ask about your half-brother, Wyatt Russell, who’s fantastic in “Everybody Wants Some!!”
Yes! He’s the best! [Laughs] I’m so proud. But if you grow up with someone, you sort of know. Wyatt was a hockey player, but deep down I always knew he’d act. Even when he said, “Oh, I’ll never do that,” I knew it was always in him. I remember going to see his little plays [when he was a kid]. He was doing “Oliver Twist” and he was the Artful Dodger. Nobody in our family knew he’d been practicing this Cockney accent. He came out on the stage, he tipped his hat and said, “‘Ello, I’m the Artful Dodger.” And we were like, “What just happened?!” It was so charming. He has something very special and very natural.
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You’ve worked with Garry Marshall before. It looks like his sets are just fun hang-out spots.
That’s Garry’s whole thing. He’s 81 and he’s still making movies. He loves to make movies. He creates a real family experience, which makes for a very laidback, fun time. He wants it to be enjoyable. He doesn’t like complications; he doesn’t like conflict. He makes a particular kind of movie, and he’s not reinventing the wheel. One time he said to me, “It’s not always about making people laugh. Sometimes it’s just nice to make them smile.” He just wants people to be happy, and he’s the same way on his sets.
Still, your subplot features some topical business about Texan parents and their fear of interracial couples and same-sex marriage.
When I read it, “Garry’s hitting on some issues here, I like it!” [Laughs] But he does it in a very Garry Marshall way. He’s touching on very serious issues that need to be addressed. But Garry’s thing is all about hope, about optimism. He’s hoping people can reach an understanding and have forgiveness on both sides. He makes it about family and what it is to accept and love each other. That’s who Garry is.
These days we usually focus on people's bigotries.
It’s incredibly rampant. You see it everywhere. I remember posting when same-sex marriage was made legal across the country. It was amazing to see the comments that came up on your feed. It was horrible. It’s unbelievable that it still exists. But sometimes I think that’s where social media is good, because you see it. It’s still there. Don’t ever think it’s not. It’s always a dialogue that should be constantly discussed.
As a non-famous person I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a famous person on social media.
[Laughs] I think social media’s great. You can just block everybody. The whole “don’t block” thing — I’m like, eff that, block ’em. I don’t need that. Who does? You’re an asshole, you alienate yourself. Bye!
Whenever I see an ensemble cast movie like this I always think of Robert Altman, who was the king of them. Can you talk about your memories of being in his film “Dr. T. and the Women”?
I love that you asked that. That’s one of my favorite experiences I ever had. He’s one of my favorite directors ever. I used to call him “Gramps.” I remember him talking about what his job was as a director. He said he had a canvas and the actors were colors. He said, “You’re yellow, and Laura [Dern] is red and Liv [Tyler] is purple. I can’t make that yellow vibrant. Your job is to create that color.” He’d just let you go, let you find things. He was another one like Garry, where the sets were like family. Everyone was involved, everyone was invited to dailies. Dailies were always a party. He loved the social element that we’re all creating something together.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge