Kate Hudson Talks The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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Kate Hudson is not only the conflicted star of Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Her thoughts about herself as an actress and mother during this conversation tended towards some fascinating contradictions of sorts, that mirror the oxymoron laden title. A post-9/11 psychological thriller set all around the planet from Wall Street to Pakistan and Turkey, The Reluctant Fundamentalist delves in similarly chaotic ways plot-wise, into just how the personal and political can make erratic bedfellows.

Or in the case of Kate and leading man Riz Ahmed, the alternately reluctant and not so reluctant guy in question, romance can be riddled with heartbreak when politics enters the fray. And with a film that unfortunately, is characterized by as much ambivalence as those commitment-challenged lovebirds, with a resolution wavering between two extremes, and in the end neither of them.

Not to worry, Kate is more than up to the task during this interview. Spouting strong opinions about the pros and cons of breastfeeding on set, hairy ideas touching on personal image and identity issues, and handling her emotions in a movie.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a highlight of the Tribeca Film Festival, a yearly event throughout Lower Manhattan in New York City beginning April 17th this year, and spotlighting dramatic features, documentaries, foreign films, shorts, free outdoor screenings, panel discussions and lectures. The festival was originally inaugurated to promote the cultural revival of New York City after 9/11. More information about the Tribeca Film Festival is online at: http://tribecafilm.com/festival

Well happy birthday.

KATE HUDSON: Thank you. It happens every year!

Was it tough to leave such an emotionally raw character behind?

KH: Yeah, you know it’s quite interesting that you asked that. Because I think that when I went home, I didn’t know it at the time. I don’t think you do know it at the time when you’re working.

Because you’re just on, you’re…on! Because when I got home, for me, I was very tapped into my emotions on this movie.

How come?

KH: I don’t know if it was because I was breastfeeding. But I mean, it was just coming up for me. You know, I was going in and out of breastfeeding.

And being extremely focused on, you know, this extremely emotional character. And there were scenes that are no longer in the movie.

And Mira was sort of…a mess! So we dialed it down a bit. Because I wanted to enjoy their intimacy, rather than her problems.

But yeah, definitely. Two and a half month old baby and breastfeeding., and tapping into those emotions, left me quite exhausted.

What about the dark hair, and changing your look, did that extreme identity switch affect your emotions?

KH: You know, it’s funny. Because I’ve always felt like even when I’m doing a romantic comedy, that I’m looking at a character as the character.

And everything sort of shifts and changes with that. And in this particular case, I think with the hair and everything, we wanted her just sort of tonally richer.

And you know, have a little bit of depth, in terms of the aesthetic of what she looked like. And Mira is very aesthetically oriented. Like even the tiny thing you wear on your wrist.

And so Mira was very specific about how she wanted me to look in the movie. And I as an actor, want to facilitate my director.

So did you relate personally to this woman who has suffered so much loss in love?

KH: Well personally – knock on wood! – I haven’t had or experienced that kind of tragedy. But I think just as an actor, by nature I’m, you know, enormously empathetic.

And in playing a character like Erica, I think I instinctively kind of tapped into the idea, of when you experience some kind of trauma in your life. Or something that has informed how you make decisions.

And in Erica’s case it’s a loss, and not only a sense of guilt and responsibility to the loss of her lover. And I think that you start sort of like closing off the ability to really connect.

And I know I can relate to what it feels like when you start shutting those connective things down in your life. Out of fear, or out of a sense of fear of being hurt again.

And I think what was wonderful about what our relationship is in the story, is that this man sort of opens up the door a little bit. For her to start the healing process.

And that she’s not really ready yet, to face head on. And I think that’s as extreme, this film lends itself to sort of extreme circumstances.

But underneath it, is something everybody can relate to. And it’s that thing when you enter relationships, true intimacy is where you have to deal with your own wounds.

And in order to be truly intimate with somebody, and in this case neither of us was in the time of our life to be able to really do that with each other. And that’s where I think you learn most about yourself.

It’s when you enter those kinds of relationships. So this love connection becomes sort of a place for them to know more about where they are at, and who they are.

How about what these characters represent politically?

KH: I don’t think we approached it like that at all, in terms of, you know, representing different sides of America. As a whole.

I think it’s more approaching it as each person’s like human conflict, in themselves. And how it’s all relative and united.

You know, to how we interact and communicate with each other. And what we experience through it.

And this film is creating a political backdrop, and the tension of the political backdrop. And something as defining to world history as 9/11.

And taking that moment, which affected everybody. And using it as the moment which I think a lot of people felt.

Which is, you know, when you start to look at your life and where you are. And look at the world and go, what does it all mean. You know?

Is it easy watching yourself on screen?

KH: Nope! It’s very intimidating.

This movie is also about being a powerful teacher. Any memories about the most influential teacher in your life?

KH: For me, my most influential teacher is easy. Her name is Hyacinth Young. She was my English teacher for two years.

She was also my voice and debate teacher. This was in high school. And she was Jamaican but lived in Montreal, and then moved to Los Angeles.

She had like the most fascinating life. And she ended up in LA, teaching at the school that I went to. And she is truly responsible for my love of literature, you know?

As a kid, you know the last thing, I wanted to play Kate in Taming Of The Shrew. I didn’t want to be reading, you know, Heart Of Darkness! I wanted to be acting out and reading playwrights, and things like that.

And she took me on this journey that was really, she just opened a whole world of literature to me. And that still to this day, is just an important part of my life.

How about any advice for moms?

KH: Advice? I mean, we all do the best we can, right?

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.