Inheriting a great deal of her mother’s looks and bubbly charm, with a good measure of her own unique talent, presence and level-headedness thrown in, actress Kate Hudson seemed well poised to make the most of her Hollywood legacy. The daughter of actress-producer Goldie Hawn and comedian-musician Bill Hudson, the ingenue was raised by Hawn and her longtime live-in love, fellow actor Kurt Russell amidst their own entertainment careers. Her firsthand knowledge of the workings of Tinseltown and the influence of her business-wise mother made Hudson an actress with no glamorous misconceptions about the film industry. She decided to join the business and secured an agent on her own, landing an audition for the Kurt Russell actioner “Escape from L.A.” (1996) and a 1996 guest spot on TV’s “Party of Five” (Fox). Making a relatively late big screen start, Hudson catapulted into the public sphere with a spate of film releases in 1999. First up was a featured role in “200 Cigarettes”, playing a clumsy young woman on a New Year’s Eve date from hell among an ensemble cast featuring a veritable who’s who of young actors, including Christina Ricci, Ben and Casey Affleck and Paul Rudd. Morgan J Freeman’s charming “Desert Blue” followed, with Hudson as a young actress driving across the California desert with her father (John Heard), ending up in a small town full of interesting characters. Also featuring Ricci and Casey Affleck, “Desert Blue” paired Hudson with indie favorite Brendan Sexton III, and they proved a compelling couple, her transformation from snobby starlet to smitten teenager was most endearing. Hudson was also featured in “Gossip” (2000), a psychological thriller set on a college campus also comprised of a young star-studded ensemble, this time with Joshua Jackson and James Marsden. She additionally starred in “Ricochet River” (lensed 1997), a drama set in a Pacific Northwest logging town, co-starring Jason James Richter. Hudson’s screen radiance and palatable talent, convincingly conveying girl-next-door naivete as well as cosmopolitan cynicism, more than ensure a bright future for the young actress.
Hudson’s moment to shine came in her breakout role in Cameron Crowe’s Oscar winning, sentimentally charming movie “Almost Famous.” As Penny Lane, a quintessential groupie of the 1970’s, Hudson delivered a perfect performance. A combination of innocence and carefree abandon mixed with a deep-buried inner sadness permeated her portrayal of Penny Lane and earned her an Oscar nomination. The young actress chose her next starring role carefully, and appeared in 2002’s remake of “Four Feathers” with Heath Ledger, where she played the fiance of a man believed to be a coward for abandoning his post just before a battle.
In 2003, Hudson co-starred with Matthew McConaughey in the romantic comedy “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” a sleeper hit that firmly established her ability to lure in an audience, and later the same year she was then paired with Luke Wilson for the Rob Reiner romantic comedy “Alex and Emma.” Playing an opinionated stenographer who helps a slightly blocked writer get his book plot on paper, Hudson also got to further explore her comedic character actress side by playing a trio of fictional au pairs in the planned novel–each inspired by Wilson’s growing attraction to her character, Emma. Once again, Hudson provided much needed spark to an otherwise listless exercise. Shifting gears away from the mainstream and into the art house, Hudson took a co-leading role in the restarained, sophisticated Merchant-Ivory production of “Le Divorce” (2003), an adaptation of Diane Johnson’s bestselling novel. Returning to more naturalistic acting, Hudson excelled in her portrayal of a naive American girl visiting her depressed, divorcing sister (Naomi Watts) in Paris who becomes swept up in an affair with a charming if caddish older, married man.
Hudson’s three 2003 films affirmed her star power at first, though interest waned slightly with each subsequent release, as the films came out only months apart. The following year she appeared in director Garry Marshall’s “Raising Helen” (2004) as a self-involved career woman who suddenly finds herself named the guardian of her late sister’s three children. Though familiar and formulaic, the film allowed Hudson to show off some her most endearing on-screen attributes. The actress tested the waters of the thriller genre with “The Skeleton Key” (2005), a gloomy, atmospheric supernatural entry in which Hudson’s inherent sunniness was effectively used in contrast to the plot’s voodoo goings-on. She is currently filming You, Me and Dupree.