Very gung ho to talk about her role in Cameron Crowe's autobiographical rock 'n' roll tome "Almost Famous," actress Kate Hudson steps back into her hotel suite at the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton after a magazine photo shoot, looking like she might have run off with the film's wardrobe truck on the last day of shooting.
Decked out in totally '70s attire -- feathered hair, aviator sunglasses, a cotton camisole, a belted wrap sweater and a calf-length Ultra-Suede skirt -- she looks so retro-sexy (and eerily like her mom, Goldie Hawn) that it comes as a bit of a shock to see her swirling a straw around in an iced cappuccino from oh-so-modern Starbucks.
"I am so tired," she says, mustering a dimpled smile and shaking the slushy mega-caffeinated drink for emphasis. It's no wonder. It's barely 10 a.m. and she flew in very late last night from another press junket in L.A.
In only her fourth major film role (she has starred in "Gossip," "Desert Blue," and "200 Cigarettes"), Hudson gives a star-making performance in the movie as something of a mythological figure: A highly sexual but seemingly squeaky clean groupie named Penny Lane who takes the picture's 15-year-old budding rock journalist hero -- Crowe's alter ego -- under her wing and helps guide him through a backstage world of sex, drugs and guitar rock, much like what Crowe himself experienced while covering a Led Zeppelin tour for Rolling Stone as a teenager in 1973.
And she says she took on a similar role in real life, befriending Patrick Fugit, the young star of the movie whose only previous acting experience had been two small roles on "Touched By An Angel."
"Our relationship in the movie, the whole seeing-your-innocent-self-in-this-boy's-eyes, definitely translated into real life," Hudson says as she sits down to be briefly interviewed about the film before being whisked away to the airport to do it all again in Seattle. "Here's this boy, it's his first time starring in this huge movie. Everything was so new and he was having such a blast, so it was really nice for me. It wasn't that long ago that it was my first movie."
Since this movie is about musicians and she plays a groupie (or "band aid" as her character calls herself), I had to start with an obvious question:
|Q: OK, I have to ask you right off the bat, have you dated any rock stars in real life?|
A: You know, my boyfriend is actually the singer for the Black Crowes (Chris Robinson).
|Q: Have you been on tour with the Black Crowes then?|
A: Mmm hmm.
|Q: Jimmy Page was touring with them too, right?|
A: Well, yeah. That was the real thing. I mean, I fell in love with Chris. He's my man. I've seen them rehearse and I think he's just the most incredible singer and he has an amazing voice. But when I met Jimmy Page it was like, Oh my God! I had to worship you for six months (on the set), and I've listened to you since I was baby, and you're Jimmy Page, man! Jesus Christ, this is unbelievable!
|Q: So you've been back stage, you've been on tour. It seems to be that the movie is not as ugly as a real back stage would be.|
A: I think the important thing about this movie is that we're seeing it through William Miller's eyes. And I think at the end of this movie, the band is (just) the journey and it's about the people you meet along the way. You can't focus too much on the drugs and the sex. It was a crazy time. But I think Cameron wanted people to see it through his eyes at that age. And it's the kind of movie -- I've seen it twice now -- that each time people are going to see a little more, because the characters are really layered and rich. We were thinking of a lot of things I think people will pick up on, the more they see the film.
|Q: Did you and Cameron talk about who he based Penny Lane on? Was she an amalgam?|
A: Penny Lane is a real person, but she's a composite of characters, different women he's met along his way. I did a lot of research too. We took all of that and combined it into one. One big thing was that in most all of these women there's a such a sadness to them. It's in their eyes, something that is very lost, and they hide it very well. If you're researching them, you pick up on it. If you're watching for something like that, you pick up on it. If you're just talking to them, they seem like the most fun people in the world.
|Q: So you wanted to get the low self-esteem angle in there?|
A: Yeah, well, to see the sad person behind the mask is really important to Penny's character. The layers of the mask that slowly dissolve as the character progresses. I have to say, I really wanted to make it special for Cameron. I felt so close to him that...I became just as passionate about it. I remained involved after the movie was over. I brought coffee to his office and...I'm just a total weirdo. But I was so close to it that when I went to go do Robert Altman's film ("Dr. T. and the Women," opening in October), which was right after, I was still winding down from my character. It was really hard for me. I missed Penny Lane so much. I missed going to work and playing her. I really had to buckle down and focus on that (new) character.
(At this point her publicist enters the room to take Hudson to the airport.)
|Q: One more thing before you get dragged out of here: What did you think when you saw the poster? (It's a close-up of Hudson with the words "Almost Famous" reflecting in her sunglasses.)|
A: Oh my God! I just totally freaked out! I couldn't believe it.
|Q: Did you know?|
A: No, I didn't. It was just sent to me and I couldn't believe it. My mom found out Friday. She saw it and flipped out.