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Kathryn Hahn on 'Bad Moms' and the craziness of motherhood

The great scene-stealer talks about how two men managed to write a movie that speaks to her parental anxieties.

Kathryn Hahn is a mom in two current movies. In the indie drama “Captain Fantastic” the scene-stealing actress plays an uptight parent whose two sons love video games and hate school. In the studio comedy “Bad Moms,” her character, Carla, has given up trying to be a model mother and would rather go to the bar with her fellow moms (played by Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell) than attend her teenage son’s baseball games. Hahn is a mother of two herself, though she’s not like either of them — though she does worry endlessly about how best to raise her kids.

I’m not a parent, but I imagine reading a script about rebellious moms is really thrilling if you are.
Oh my god. That was exactly it. I read it knowing that two gentlemen wrote it. I thought, “Hmm, let’s see, fellas!” I read it and was so excited by how cathartic it felt. It really exploded those crazy expectations society has placed on so many mamas. There’s so much judgment in parenting. It was such a wish fulfillment to say “screw you” to all those expectations that we put on ourselves — how we if we stray from any of those we feel like failures. It’s absurd.

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I’m always afraid that if I was a parent I’d screw the kids up.
You’re handed this perfect, gorgeous, untainted, pure being. You feel like, ‘This is my chance to curate their experiences and make the most amazing, brilliant, most empathetic soul on the planet.’ And of course, it’s just one lesson after another of how out-of-control you are. It’s a crazy, awesome responsibility that you have no preparation for. Nothing can prepare you for what that is, and how much more challenging that gets the older they get. But holy crap, what a crazy privilege. It’s definitely not for every human on the planet, for sure.

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I have married friends who don’t want kids and hate that everyone asks them, “When are you having a baby?”
I’d say, “Thank you, guys, for not overpopulating the planet!” We need more of those couples.

Going back to the idea of curating your kids’ experiences, there was that great Onion article, “Cool Dad Raising Daughter on Media That Will Put Her Entirely Out of Touch with Her Generation,” which has a photo of a teenage girl holding a Talking Heads LP. How much do you find yourself doing that?
My husband does it. He’s infinitely cooler than I am. My son can quote The Beastie Boys, and has been able to since a very young age. That’s because of my husband. My daughter and I listen to Katy Perry. I did take my son to a big Cindy Sherman exhibit in L.A. I hadn’t been to a museum in so long. I just wanted to go so bad, even though it had stuff that was controversial or nude. It was amazing to see art through a kid’s eyes.

There’s a line in the movie where Mila Kunis’ character tells her son to do the dishes and make himself food so he doesn’t grow up to be a horrible troll.
It’s a great speech about entitlement. One of my biggest challenges as a mom is I really love a clean house. I would clean up, absentmindedly, for them for awhile, because I didn’t like s—t all over the place. At a certain point I had to take a deep breath, step back and let them clean up. I knew it was imperative for them to understand consequences. Sometimes it’s easier to swoop in and take over, but it’s important to let them do it. I mean, I think! I don’t know what I’m doing. [Laughs] It's such a crazy, crazy time right now to be a parent, because there's so much to shelter a child from. All I know is I want my two people to be good, kind, empathetic humans with firm moral compasses. Then I’ll just be the happiest.

There’s a quote by the screenwriter William Goldman about Hollywood where he says, “Nobody knows anything.” I feel like that’s a good description of parenting, too.
Oh, I love that! I want to say that all the time. "Nobody knows anything" — that's such a great way to put it. There's so much judgment from other moms. Moms are so hard on each other. Moreso on themselves. I feel like everyone has to justify the way they're parenting their child, because otherwise they're doing it wrong. There's so much outside noise that you have to tune it out and trust yourself.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
 
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