Kate Hudson with her son, Ryder, at the Kung Fu Panda 3 premiere in L.A. Photo: Getty Images
Kate Hudson checked a major box on her list of career goals when she was asked to voice a character in DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 3, out on January 29. In the film, the actress embodies a determined panda named Mei Mei, which was especially exciting for Hudson’s two sons. It’s also the first in several films for Hudson this year, which also include true-life disaster drama Deepwater Horizon and romantic comedy Mother’s Day. Most importantly, though, the actress is about to release her first book – one that she hopes will help women achieve the same sort of active, balanced life she has. The tome, Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways To Love Your Body, drops on February 16. We chatted with Hudson about martial arts, learning to love your individuality, and her personal mantra.
Yahoo Style: How excited were your kids when you told them you’d be doing a voice in Kung Fu Panda 3?
Kate Hudson: They were so excited. We’ve all loved the Kung Fu Panda movies – they’ve been going on a long time. So I think Ryder was four or five when the first one came out and now he’s 12, so it’s kind of cool. He’s grown up with Kung Fu Panda. When I first got the phone call I was like, “Well, I’m not going to tell him until I’m sure I’m actually going to do it.” And then when I saw Mei Mei I thought she was so cute. She’s such a fun character. So I went to Ryder and I was like, “I’m going to be a Kung Fu Panda!” and he was very excited. Bingham doesn’t quite understand it so much, but he will when he’s older.
Is this your first animated film?
Yeah! It’s the first one. It’s interesting because it’s all vocal, isn’t it? You push further than you normally would. It takes a second to find it because you have to go there. And it’s quite movement-oriented because you want to bring life to the voice. The animation is this amazing, fluid artwork and then you have to bring the same kind of energy to it, which actually takes more than you think it would. Whereas when you’re making film you choose those subtle moments, it’s not like that when you doing this. It was fun.
What sort of direction did you get when recording the voice?
They know the story and what they want. They just guide you. It’s actually quite easy and fun and funny and we laughed a lot. It’s not too taxing. You could do animated movies forever, like drop off the kids, go to the ADR studio for a couple hours.
And no hair and makeup required.
Yeah. And you can wear your sweats. It was casual.
Have you ever personally done martial arts?
No. I danced as a kid. I might have done Tai Chi in school at one point. My brothers did. My son did a type of martial art called Kempo and then [my brother] Oliver did karate. I think most kids at some point get into martial arts. It’s such great discipline for kids. But I actually think dance is a similar discipline – it just doesn’t have the same sort of warrior aspect to it. But I think dancers are kind of warriors too. It’s movement, it’s energy, it’s connecting from the ground to the heavens. There’s a mind-body-spirit element to it.
Was there anything about Kung Fu Panda 3 that touched you in that way?
What’s really great about this one is that it’s really about your individual power, which is such a nice message because everybody’s so different. Embracing individuality is so key for kids to learn in their development. Without that we wouldn’t have the great thinkers of our world. I really love that message of how different all our powers are.
What is your strongest individual power?
I’m not recklessly fearless, but I would say I am good at being fueled by my fears and tackling them. I’m a pick-up-the-bootstraps kind of person. It’s like, “Bring it at me! Don’t underestimate me.” I might hit the wall a couple times, but I always get up. So I’ve got resilience. I’ve got a tough skin.
Kate Hudson in is the voice of Mei Mei in Kung Fu Panda 3. Photo: Courtesy
You have a book coming out soon. Can you talk about what inspired that?
I’m so excited about it! But I’m also very nervous. It’s not a memoir. It’s really just a motivational book. The question everyone asks me the most is “How do you stay fit? How do you balance your life?” I really don’t like answering the question in interviews because it’s hours and hours and hours of conversation. It’s not a sound-bite. So I wrote a book about it and hopefully it will inspire women to feel motivated to make real lifestyle changes, instead of fad up-and-down changes. When you really want change you’ve got to do it. It’s going to take work, it’s going to take discipline, it’s going to take effort and if you want to keep it that way, it’s going take a lifestyle change. So how do you make that fun? It seems really daunting. What you realize when you get more into it is that it really comes more from the inside out, than from the outside in. It’s cheesy, but it’s true.
Will you do a book tour when it comes out?
I’m going to do the whole thing. I’ve never done anything like that. I’m very passionate about the subject. The healthier we are and the more we exercise and the more we eat well, the better our brains function and the more confidence we have and the more empowered we are. And it’s not about aesthetic. It’s really, truly how you mentally function. As soon as your start mentally functioning with that sort of clarity and awareness, everything else follows suit. I think women are so bombarded with this ideal of looking like something and to me it’s base. I don’t feel like any woman should ever fall down that trap. I think it’s an important dialogue for girls to have with each other so I want to go talk about it.
Do you have something you repeat to yourself to keep you going?
It changes. I’ve got all kinds. In the last year I think it’s been something someone said to me and I really liked it. Someone was complaining about something at a table of people and my girlfriend said, “You’ve got to stop thinking about the outcome and obsessing about the outcome and just enjoy the process.” I was like, “Stop! I’m going to write that down.” You get stuck on your expectations of how something was supposed to happen instead of actually enjoying the process, whether positive or negative. You stay more in the moment and you start taking ownership more of your choices. So it’s: “Enjoy the process.”