So, how does an actor prepare to play a panda? "You don't," Kate Hudson laughs. "It's actually just fun. You get to be big, and you get to push things a little bit further than you normally would."
We're catching up with Kate at the end of a busy day of interviews for Kung Fu Panda 3, but the bright, bubbly energy she's known for seems not the least bit dulled by the late hour. And even though there might not be much real-life experience Kate could draw on to play Mei Mei the panda, she said the movie's themes hit close to home for her; after all, her son Ryder is now 12 years old, navigating adolescence just like Po (the Kung Fu Panda himself) does in the film.
During our chat, Kate also reflected on her close-as-can-be relationship with her mom, Goldie Hawn, and explained why her upcoming book, Pretty Happy, doesn't just dole out your typical, one-size-fits-all beauty and fitness advice.
PS: Had you watched the first two Kung Fu Panda movies with your boys?
KH: Oh, yeah. I mean, I got two kids. If you gots kids, you've seen the Kung Fu Panda.
PS: I always thought the movies had such a great message to kids about family: whatever your family looks like, that's great, and that's awesome. I saw your "exmas" Snapchat with Matthew Bellamy, and just based on your past interviews, I would imagine that theme really resonates with you.
KH: The patchwork family. Love is love is love is love. I think, especially in today's age, that's a wonderful, comforting message to kids. But also, I think this [movie] is really about Po's identity, and finding out who he is, and then becoming his own person. That transition into becoming a little man. And I have that boy [Ryder] right now! I've got the tween. Po's a tween. It's an amazing time, going through puberty. You're figuring out, "Who am I gonna be? What is my future?" You're just trying to really understand that you are your own person. It can be very scary and it can also be very exciting. That era of puberty is so huge. Especially for boys.
PS: Are there moments with Ryder now where you're like, "Oh! You're a fully formed person!"?
KH: Yeah, and I also have these moments where I can see the work that you put in as a parent. You see where it pays off, and you also see like, "Oh, maybe I should've been a little bit more strict on that one!" But you start to see the man emerge, and you can see their own fears start to pop up — their anxieties. I think [Kung Fu Panda 3] sorta does hit on that.
PS: You also have a health and fitness book coming out, Pretty Happy. Is there something that you do now when it comes to self care that maybe you didn't know to do when you were younger?
KH: Of course. That's the journey, isn't it? I feel like people write these books, and it's always like: "This is what to do." No! That's not it. [Things] change. We change. Everything changes constantly. It's really about connecting with yourself and what you like and what motivates you. You have to learn about yourself. It might work for you. It might not. I feel like people need to get more connected to their individual needs.
PS: So what have you learned about yourself since you were 21?
KH: What I'm constantly learning is change. Routine is good for me, but the change of routine is really important. I get bored easily. So there's no one thing that I'm going to want to stick to. I really enjoy life, so if I'm in a routine constantly, I just don't feel like I'm experiencing it. And that's just me. That's what makes me happy. You could see someone on the dance floor having the most extroverted, great time and go, "God, they're so happy." But that person who's sitting quiet in the corner, just looking around? You could look at them and go, "they look really sad," and meanwhile, they're so happy. Just let the person who wants to sit the corner and be happy sit in the corner and be happy! No one can define someone else's happiness.
PS: That's a huge lesson.
KH: It is. That's what I liked naming the book Pretty Happy, because it's like "How are you?" "Pretty happy." [Laughs] It's got a couple different meanings to it.
PS: You caused a lot of ab envy at the Golden Globes. Do you have one ab move you can recommend?
KH: It's Pilates. There's no other core workout [for] me, personally. That's what works for me. I feel like when I'm doing pilates the most, that is where I feel most pulled in in the center, because it's all core based. There's no one ab move, and you know, I grew up dancing. That's part of what I want to encourage in women: you can't think that you're gonna do that one thing and it's gonna happen in a couple weeks. It's just gotta be what you learn to love.