Kate Hudson has an unpopular opinion: She likes extreme heat. When we speak she’s in New Orleans, where it’s still hot and gross. But she’s into it. “Humidity makes me so happy,” she says. “My hair gets curly, my skin gets dewy. I couldn’t be happier.”
The actress, 37, has been down there a few times to shoot movies: “Skeleton Key,” in 2005, and for her scenes in “Deepwater Horizon,” the new docudrama about the eponymous BP oil rig explosion in 2010 — aka the largest environmental disaster in American history. Hudson plays the wife of one of doomed workers (played by Mark Wahlberg), and spends the second half of the movie wondering if he’s still alive.
“Deepwater Horizon” also represents a personal milestone: It’s the first time Hudson has been in the same movie as her adoptive father Kurt Russell, who plays the rig’s growly manager. Hudson recently opened up about her biological father, musician Bill Hudson, who has said that he disowned her and her brother Oliver. Hudson told Howard Stern she forgives her father, even as she accepts his ire. She does call Russell her "pa" and her "dad," and is happy to share a scene with him, even if it's very brief.
You and Wahlberg have a really fun, flirty chemistry in the scenes before the accident. They’re not just a stock couple and she’s not just a stock worrying wife.
For Mark and I it was a bit of a tough job. You’ve got a lot of story to tell in a short amount of time; you have to condense these moments into something that felt real. We talked about how we could connect with these characters and make them the emotional center of the story. When we looked at the script we felt all their stuff was effective, that it had been earned. I think it was effective. I mean, I’m in it and I was a mess at the end of the movie. That’s very rare for me.
Was your chemistry instant?
I feel like there are certain people you have chemistry with. You don’t know when it’s going to happen or who it will be. Some people, just for some reason, you like them onscreen together. And some people you kind of don’t. [Laughs] I think that’s why in our town they do “chemistry reads.” You can have two brilliant actors and put them together, and it’s like watching paint dry. Or you can put two actors you wouldn’t think would get along together and you’ll just like watching them for some weird reason.
The big centerpiece of “Deepwater Horizon” is the rig explosion, with people running around from explosions and fire. But your role, of a wife worrying at home, still requires emotional intensity.
This wasn’t an easy movie to do, emotionally, and in terms of what we wanted to show. You’re telling a true story. It’s very sensitive material: These are real people who had real tragedy and real trauma. Pete [Berg, the director] would say, “You always have to have in the back of your head that the families are going to see it.” That made your focus a little bit more on point. You want to be respectful to the families.
Your character, Felicia, has to spend so much of the movie unsure of what’s happened to her husband. That sounds like a difficult headspace to get into.
I think it’s very similar to when you’re watching the news and there’s a plane crash, or a plane missing. You imagine the families not knowing if there’s going to be a survivor. It’s just heartbreaking. In their case nobody was telling them anything; for hours they had no idea what was going on. It’s not that difficult a headspace to get into, because this could happen to anybody. You’re watching your spouse or your girlfriend’s rig burning down and nobody’s telling them anything. It felt like an eternity for them.
I spent a lot of the movie worried that you and your dad were in a movie together but you’d never actually share a scene. And then you two hug at the end.
That hug was in an early draft of the script, which I read before I even knew my dad was going to do it. Itwas nice to have that, even if it was just that, and I look forward to working with him more.