At 71, Goldie Hawn is heading back onto the big screen in a raucous mother-daughter comedy. Here, the trailblazing star talks to Chrissy Iley about beating anxiety, being a mum, finding love with Kurt Russell and breaking through that glass ceiling.
back on the big screen and funnier than ever
It was actress and comedian Amy Schumer who decided she wanted Goldie Hawn to play her mother in the edgy new comedy Snatched. She was convinced of it, even though Goldie has not actually made a movie in 15 years. This fact is surprising because Goldie has always been there, somehow permeating the Hollywood universe even if it was as the mother of actress Kate Hudson. Also perhaps because some of her classics – Private Benjamin, Shampoo and The First Wives Club – are always referenced and Netflix-ready. Yet, for this past decade-and-a-half, Goldie has been busy with her children’s foundation. It’s not that there was ever a moment she gave up acting. It wasn’t a decision. It’s something that evolved.
“I thought, ‘You know what? It’s time for me to let this baby turn into a teenager and get back to work, and have some fun,’” says Goldie. “So that’s what I did.”
The pairing with Amy is perfect. She is a new-generation pioneer of “funny lady calling the shots”, which is exactly what Goldie did in her day.
I meet Goldie Hawn in a grandiose hotel in Santa Monica – it’s by the beach with classic Hollywood blue sky and palm trees. It’s near the home she has just had built for herself and partner of 34 years, Kurt Russell. She has only spent three nights there, but radiates restfulness and peacefulness – she’s clearly happy that she’s in a good place and finally feels settled. And yet there is that air about her, a need to be calm in order to counter an anxiousness that has plagued her all her life. That’s why she’s done a lot of meditating and always has done.>>
Throughout the various traumas and successes in her life, meditating is what Goldie has turned to when others might turn to cocktails.
A homemaker at heart
Goldie is wearing a little black dress, bare freckled legs and a heart-shaped tattoo that pokes out of her strappy sandalled foot. Her hair, at 71, is the same as it’s been most of her life – long, blonde and tousled – but there’s no facial sculpting. She’s always been pretty. She was the woman who broke moulds. Before Goldie Hawn, it was impossible to be a pretty, funny woman in the movies. Not that she sees herself that way. She’s always been insecure about her looks and describes herself as a comedic actress. “I’ve never done stand-up or anything like that,” she says.
Born in 1945 in Washington D.C., she was discovered on the popular TV sketch show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, appearing on it from 1968 to 1970. She came to Los Angeles around the age of 25 and made the movie There’s a Girl in My Soup. She maintains she came without any other ambition except to get married, have a family and run a dance school.
Goldie always thought she would go home to D.C., but she never did. She was always shocked by her huge appeal, not because she’s selfdeprecating, but because she’s always believed that making children happy and homemaking was what she was here for. “I wanted the white picket fence,” she has said. The nearest she got was The Hawn Foundation for children – to help them triumph over trauma using meditation techniques. “A fearful child cannot learn.”
Her spell away from movies to focus on her foundation came naturally, she says. “When you’ve been working for 40 years at being funny, there comes a moment where you look at your life and say, ‘Who am I now and where do I want to go? Do I want to continue to repeat myself or do I want to do something different?’ I want my life to be enriched by different actions, not just by one thing. That’s why I have developed and produced scripts for children that can go into schools. It was exciting to me.”
By the same token, Goldie feels her new movie was completely organic and not a decision to go back into acting. “I didn’t know Amy before the movie, although we met on a plane once,” she says. “In my heart, I have adopted her now. I love her.” She beams, a full-on Goldie beam, not a Hollywood beam.
The movie is a mother and daughter caper, a female mix, if you like, of Taken and The Hangover. Definitely room for a sequel and definitely very, very funny. The Amy/Goldie chemistry is totally natural and believable.
Search for enlightenment
That said, to think of Goldie Hawn as simply funny and light would be a mistake. As the child of a Presbyterian father and Jewish mother, she grew up fascinated by all religions. Going to the Catholic Church with her best friend as a little girl, even then she was looking for answers when most children her age hadn’t even thought of the questions. She vividly remembers the day at school they showed a movie about the Cold War and what could happen if The Bomb was dropped. “It stayed with me,” she says. “It was very impactful. I remember thinking I’ll never live to kiss a boy. I’ll never be a mom. I was very anxiety ridden.”
That anxiety stayed with her for her whole life – that’s how the meditation came in. It also helped her get through her divorces, first from Gus Trikonis and a particularly nasty one with Bill Hudson, the father of Kate and Oliver. The divorce was gruelling and seemed to cause much angst. It is perhaps why Goldie and Kurt are one of Hollywood’s longest lasting couples – together now for more than 30 years, but never married.
“Relationships are hard,” she says. “None of them are easy. Both Kurt and I had gotten out of a relationship that was basically all about money and we both looked at each other and we were like, marriage – no way! What’s yours is yours, what’s mine is mine. We’re going to do this thing separately and we’re going to be together. We’re going to enjoy each other. There’s no marriage here. “Marriage binds you lawfully in a way that, suddenly, you’ve got to give up your money. Kurt was married for three-and-a-half years and he had to give up all his money, his house and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I was married and my ex sued me for everything, after four years. The laws are like that.”
Of Bill Hudson, even to this day, she admits, “He was fun.” It was a passionate relationship and the other side of passion is, of course, darkness. With Kurt, it was different from the start. It was instant cosiness, a slow burn. They met when they co-starred in Swing Shift, which Goldie also produced. “You know when we fell in love? I loved the way he looked at my
children. Frankly, that was it. That’s what made me fall in love with him. It wasn’t one of those… ” she’s searching for the word... “lust at first sight things. No, not that at all. I mean, we were very sexually attracted to each other, but I was at a stage of my life where I had finally accepted my little white picket fence dream did not work out. I’d had two divorces and I wanted something that was going to be good for my life and my children.”
Her son, Oliver, has three children, Wilder, Bodhi and Rio, and actress daughter Kate has sons Ryder and Bingham, and it’s always special for Goldie to spend time with them. “My grandchildren call me Go-Go. It was my nickname when I was little,” she says. “Being a grandmother is amazing. I love it. It brings unbelievable joy.”
She loves all children, not just those who are related to her – hence her foundation. And there’s also something about Goldie that is celebratory of her own inner child, a playfulness and innocence that’s with her still.
Ahead of the times
Goldie’s phone rings with an Indian gong ringtone. She laughs at herself. She’s drinking green juice, but swears she was drinking it for 20 years before the rest of Hollywood, then the world, embraced it as the healthy must-have.
Looking back at her life, she was the first of so many more things, not just green juice. When she produced and starred in Private Benjamin in 1980, it was a ground-breaking moment for her and for women in general. She was allowed to be a female lead – that was still a rarity – hilarious and still the exquisitely pretty, blonde Goldie.
Yet what we didn’t know is that she was studying neuroscience, how the brain works, and she still does. “I don’t look at myself as someone who has to be funny, who has to entertain people,” she says. “I’m an actress who can be comedic and I started off as a dancer.” Her legs are still long, slim, shapely and toned, and Snatched director Jonathan Levine admits she was the fittest person on the set. There was lots of running, lots of action and Goldie’s never minded that.
In 1996, she, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton starred in what became a massive hit movie, The First Wives Club. “It was a time when movies were being tailored to the adolescent male,” Goldie says. “No one wanted to make movies with women of a certain age, actually in their 50s. We all did it for minimal money just to get it made.”
When the studio wanted a sequel, they were expected to do it for the same low fees. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I thought to myself, no. Everyone negotiates for a sequel because people love your characters. You can’t put anyone else in that movie.”
Does she think they would have treated men like that? “No, not at all,” she says, with absolutely certainty. Have things changed now? She pauses, smiles as if she wants to be the optimist and chooses her words carefully. “We keep inching along, two steps forward and one step back,” she says. “I feel that young men today are different to some of those old dogs who have a lack of regard for a woman who’s – how can I put it – got some power.”
Goldie has never been the type of woman who stamped her stilettoed feet and made diva-ish demands, but she always spoke her mind carefully. “I can tell you I did frustrate a lot of people,” she says. “I was not happy about the way First Wives Club was handled.”
While Bette Midler and Diane Keaton held back, “I was more confronting. When I look back, I feel extremely proud that I used my voice.”
Does she think that now it’s possible for a woman to be blonde, pretty, funny and call the shots? In my head, I’m thinking Amy Schumer. “Perhaps, but I never felt pretty and neither did Amy. We both grew up doubting ourselves.”
Goldie Hawn in her Private Benjamin and Shampoo period was undoubtedly gorgeous, but perhaps part of the reason she connects so well with other women is that she never believed that herself. “I still think there’s no such thing as a sexy clown,” she says, “but I like the idea that there’s been a paving of the way for more women to get out there and produce movies.”
“It wasn’t lust at first sight with Kurt.
Goldie Hawn with (from left) grandsons Wilder and Bodhi, and granddaughter Rio play in one of the five bedrooms of her recently sold Pacific Palisades home.
Goldie and her co-star, Amy Schumer, in their new movie, Snatched.
Goldie has said that if she and Kurt Russell had married, they would be divorced by now. RIGHT: Kurt and Goldie with (from left) her son Oliver Hudson, their son Wyatt Russell, her daughter Kate Hudson and grandchildren Ryder, Rio, Bingham, Wilder and Bodhi.