Kate Hudson for “The Skeleton Key”

Kate Hudson was all smiles when we met at a New Orleans hotel room. Her off screen demeanour is in sharp contrast to her unusually darker character in the creepy thriller The Skeleton Key, in which she plays a nurse looking after an apparent stroke victim in a house that has its fair share of secrets.

Hudson says she was not attracted to the piece initially as a mere escape from her romantic comedy persona. “I wasn’t looking for a thriller or something, but I just wanted to work with interesting people, which is always my hope and desire,” says Hudson. “But this came and I read it and I loved the script so much. I’d finished the script in probably 45 minuets and I was shocked at the idea that it’s basically a four hander picture. There are five people in the whole movie, it’s a character driven thriller that ends unexpectedly and boldly, and a Hollywood studio is going to actually make it. I thought it was just so refreshing to me, so after the initial response to the script, I went, ‘I have never done a thriller and it will just be really fun for me to heave and pant and run and climb and break windows and scream every once in a while.’ It was a real change, and very different.”

Hudson responded to her character, admitting, that to an extent, she was the closest character to herself. “I guess I approach all work no matter what type of movie or character the same way, then there are just some times you have to reach into places that are a little less familiar on a day to day basis in certain characters and others. For this character, it was actually quite accessible to play her. My fears were very accessible to tap into my fears, very accessible to understand why somebody would move to a city because of music or because of a passion. She’s also strong minded and a little tough and I feel that she’s the kind of girl who’s okay being alone even though it might be a little lonely. “

But Kate has little time to think about being lonely these days, with a husband and new baby, admitting that being a working mother has its challenges. “I think you have to be constantly conscious of it. It’s so easy, when you have any time, to just go right into your child. That’s your primary focus is baby every day, morning, noon and night and then I don’t know, it’s a constant guilty feeling when you do anything for yourself, when you do anything for your career, when you do anything for your husband, when you do anything with your girlfriends because it’s taking you away from time with your baby. But I just have to keep reiterating to myself that it’s important for me to make sure that my son knows that we all have lives and everybody’s lives are important as well as everybody’s individuality. Hopefully they’ll grow up like I did, realizing that we’re never the centre of anybody’s attention all the time or the universe.”

Asked how different it has been to work with all of those thoughts going on, Hudson smiles. “It’s not difficult, it’s just exhausting, because you just go home and you’re just really tired. You do have moments where you have to have that release, whether it’s having to punch a bag, go do a boxing class or whether it’s just to cry. It’s not of any sadness, but more a release of pure exhaustion because women especially know when they’re mothers, even when they don’t have careers, they made the career of being a mom. It’s the same thing as the first time I went away from Rider was a week ago. I’m in Europe and I wake up in the morning, or I come home that night after having dinner with everybody and I’m having a drink and I came home and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to get to sleep. I have to wake up in the morning and I’ve got to get Rider.’ And I just went, ‘Rider. Rider’s not here.’ And I had that first initial moment of saying wow, that’s always on your mind. So the only time you can really realize how exhausted you are is when you’re actually away from it.”  Hudson adds that motherhood may reflect her career choices, in terms of “time away and location. But I grew up with very, very work oriented parents and it was really admirable to know that my parents worked so hard. Yet at the same time, they were always present in our lives, always available to us at all times and yet they worked so hard. We got to really see them have their own life and strength, which was a really important lesson.”

Hudson is next returning to comedy, but she says it’s by no means a conventional romantic comedy. “It kind of has a feeling of a Meet the Fockers type of comedy and it’s not about romance. The Rooster brothers are directing it, the Arrested Development guys, so it’s got that kind of far out but at the same time totally accessible, humour. I’m kind of the one who’s stuck in the middle of everything and having to deal with him all the time. There is some very slapstick comedy that will be going on but it also has very good characters, each one with its own voice. Every character has a bunch of quirks and is really funny and was a rare comedy for me to actually read.”

Hudson says it’s important for her to mix and match genres, but also to just have fun in her work. “I really haven’t done very many films. Since Almost Famous, I’ve done five? Six? So I feel like I don’t get to walk up to a big bin of amazingly dimensional fascinating characters. I get the young girl who’s starting out her life and is cute and perky and falls in love for the first time. Now that’s great and some of them are really good and some of them are better than others, but for me, I kind of looked at it like that’s why I’ve taken three years off in my career so far. I don’t want to rush anything. I don’t want to feel like I have to work all the time. I want to wait until I get to an age where I can play more dimensional roles. Making comedies is hands down, fun, because you laugh. It takes a lot of energy and boy, you’re almost even more exhausted doing that than when you’re running through forests all day, because you have to be so energetic. But I feel as if I’d be bored if I always did comedies and I feel like I’d be bored if I was always a dramatic actor. I just want to continually find things about the craft and find things about new characters, discover new things about myself and through them or in my life bring them to characters. It’s just the most fun business to be in. and the most fun job. When I get to wake up every day and I get to go on set, I have so much fun. It feels like: man, how lucky is that? I just love it.”