Oscar winner Goldie Hawn looks nothing like her 57 years. Sexy and beautiful, the actress who has forged a career redefining the proverbial dumb blonde on screen, has taken on a different challenge as one half of The Banger Sisters, in which she plays an ex-sixties groupie trying to reconnect with her former ‘sister’ and fellow groupie Susan Sarandon, a now very conservative suburban wife and mother.
Hawn, whose own sixties lifestyle was anything but staid, said she had no problem using her own past to play this still sexually wild character, but insists Hawn’s experiences remained divergent from those in Banger Sisters. “I certainly had a lot to draw from, but it was not my life,” Hawn explains. “It was very interesting, because when I researched this character, she really was not anything like I was. It looked like it, but obviously, there were different things that I did as a child of that time period.”
Hawn remembers being quite the workaholic at that time. “I was dancing and studying and I was directed and I had a lot of ambition and a lot of dreams,” she recalls. “I did not drink or smoke dope or do any of that stuff during that time because I was just fine being who I was. I got married young, I liked the home, and I was not like that.” Although the actress does concede that she “did dance in clubs, was a go-go girl, and had a lot of experiences where guys were doing some really crazy stuff. So yeah, I did live in that time period.”
Hawn did marry a rocker, Bill Hudson, whom the actress describes as “a kind of a bubble gum rock and roller for awhile. When I was pregnant with Oliver, I used to travel with him and my father called me the pregnant groupie.”
Hawn still has vivid memories of that era defined by the hippie movement, wild sex and free love. “If you ask me whether we all had friendly relationships whereby you met guys and you had a really good time and you spent the night with them and you had sex with them and everything was just fine? You were friends and you loved each other, and it was a blast, and I will see you later? Yeah,” Hawn laughingly says. “Actually if you raised your own children and you start talking about these things – I mean, we live in a different time period. And I often thought to myself, you know, the Sixties and Seventies were such a free time and such a great time to be able to feel some modicum of togetherness and intimacy and fearlessness and some of those animal instincts that we normally have that are not unhealthy. But today, the fear factor, irregardless of whether people are free or not free, has very much changed the temperature a lot.”
Hawn was the daughter of a musician and was born and raised in Washington, taking dance lessons at age 3 and by the age of 17, she was managing a dance studio while studying drama at American University. In 1964, she danced professionally at the Texas Pavilion of the New York World’s Fair, and then began appearing in chorus lines in such musicals as Kiss Me Kate, Guys and Dolls, and The Boyfriend. She eventually moved to California, where her first break came when an agent saw her dancing on the Andy Griffith Show and cast her in Good Morning World, a short-lived comedy series. From there she was cast as a dancer in an innovative comedy-variety show hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. It was on Laugh-In (1968-1970) that Hawn became popular.
Originally a dancer on the show, her bikini-clad body painted with funny slogans and designs, she was given a few lines and proved herself a talented performer in a winning, air-headed way. Hawn made her first foray into feature films as a dancer in The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968). Her acting debut came a year later playing Walter Matthau’ s ditzy, bohemian mistress in Cactus Flower (1969); she won an Oscar for her role, making it an inarguably auspicious debut. Later that year she appeared opposite Peter Sellers in There’s a Girl in My Soup.
These first two films and the subsequent Dollars (1971) utilized Hawn’s “blonde” persona, but in 1972, she hinted that she concealed more than a talent for perkiness and comedy when she played a young woman who helps her blind lover deal with his past in Butterflies Are Free. Hawn showed even more depth as a wife who springs her husband from jail in hopes of keeping her child in Sugarland Express, Steven Spielberg’s 1973 feature-film directorial debut. Two years later, she starred as Warren Beatty’s girlfriend in Shampoo, further exhibiting her capacity as both a comedic and dramatic actress.
Hawn has continued to play a diverse collage of characters in the likes of Private Benjamin, Swing Shift [when she met her partner Kurt Russell], Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You and The First Wives Club. With The Banger Sisters, Hawn says that she is playing a character that she’s never done before, not to mention teaming up for the first time with fellow Oscar winner Susan Sarandon. “We work together great, I love her because there is no bullshit and I do not like bullshit. I like to get down, as my mother says and put my ass on the table and that is the way I work. She is the same way and is able to shift gears just the way I am. We worked from the script together, totally in synchronicity. A lot of times it does not work out that way. You can work with other people, men or woman, and it is not so smooth, you know? Ego is a very dangerous human shield. And so when you have to deal with someone else’s need, you know, to protect themselves, really it can be very difficult. Susan is just as free as I am.”
And Hawn has a chance to be really sexy in Banger Sisters, in a delightful moment where she seduces Geoffrey Rush. For Hawn, it was a perfect opportunity to send a message to mature women who see the film. “It makes me happy to have been able to do a role that establishes a kind of truth that because women get older they do not have to be less sexy. But sexuality is not only a very personal thing but it really is not just about the body and how you look, but how you feel and how we feel inside. I know there are days when people can say how great you look and all that, and you don’t feel it, and therefore when you don’t feel it you don’t feel sexual.” Hawn continues. “Those of us who are twenty cannot perceive what it might be like at 40. So you have always got these leaps where people are going, oh my God when I am 40, and then when you are 40, oh my God when I am 60. Oh my God, what do they do when they are 80? So it is just the way it is. But in terms of your own self, I mean, there are times when I felt really not sexy in my twenties because I did not like the way I looked, or I did not feel good, or I felt sad.”
Hawn has been a true Hollywood star for three decades, yet despite being cast as the dizzy blonde, the actress denies ever having to fight Hollywood to be taken seriously. “I never fought Hollywood ever. I am so grateful, honest to God. There was one period; I think I was in my thirties, where I thought, you know, I think it is time to be more serious. So I am not going to show that happy, happy, happy, face all the time, because it is so goofy. After all, I am this viable, sexual animal – they don’t know that part of me. I went through about a year of that. I mean, I want a year that I went to take some pictures that show the animal in me,” Hawn confesses. “I am sharing this because the truth is that, well of course, nobody wanted those pictures. They wanted me to be happy and jovial and up, and I look at this and at some movies as well and I thought why not? If this is what was gifted, if I was gifted with this, what is the point of working against it? So flow is very important, you know? That is important to be able to go with the flow. That was my destiny and my life at this time on the planet at this time in history.”
Hawn continues to work flat out, shooting another new film. She is also taking pride in her daughter, Kate Hudson, who even gave her some advice shooting Banger Sisters, having played a groupie herself in Almost Famous. “It was very handy. Kate gave me these great books. It’s as if I was playing her character 20 years later.” Talk about keeping it all in the family.