In a themed cover for its 30th anniversary edition, lifestyle magazine People invited Goldie Hawn to appear with her daughter Kate Hudson and granddaughter Rani Rose. It was titled the “Beautiful Issue,” in which mother and daughter opened up about relationships. What’s more, Hawn revealed the secret behind her enduring relationship with long-term partner Kurt Russell.
The special People cover was a first for the magazine. Never before had they featured three generations of the same family. Hawn and Hudson, however, have both featured on the magazine’s cover solo. But this was a first for them, too, since it was the only time they’ve been featured on a magazine cover with a third generation of their family.
People’s editor-in-chief Dan Wakeford described why he chose Hawn, Hudson and her daughter for the cover shoot. He said, “The palpable joy of seeing this trio together made them the perfect choice for the 30th anniversary of our ‘Beautiful Issue.’ These women illustrate what is important to us right now: positivity, kindness, laughter and family.”
In an accompanying interview filmed in L.A. in February 2020, Hawn and Hudson spoke at length about parenting and relationships, including their own. Indeed, mother and daughter have a particularly close connection. Hudson spoke warmly of how grateful she was for the opportunity to share the magazine cover with her mom.
Hudson described the moment she received the email about the family cover shoot. As she recalled, “When I got the email I was like… immediately I didn’t quite know what it was talking about. And then I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ And I called Mom and I said, ‘Mom, they want us to be on the cover.’”
The request prompted Hawn to recall earlier photo shoots for magazine covers. She admitted, “I got nostalgic. Because you’ve done [a cover shoot for People]. And I did that. And now we get to do it together.” The actress acknowledged that the occasion was made all the more special for including her granddaughter.
However, the “Beautiful Issue” shoot wasn’t the first time Hawn and Hudson had shared a cover. For all the magazine front pages each has graced in their own right, Hudson recalled her very first. And, as she told the story, it appeared to happen by accident when she was a teenager and arrived home from school one day.
“I thought on the way [to the shoot]…” Hudson recalled. “It reminded me of the first time that I ever did a cover and it… actually ended up being with Mom. I was 15 or 16 and we were [both wearing jeans and a white tank top]. I [arrived] home from school and Mom was like, ‘Come take a picture,’ and it ended up being on a cover.”
Hudson credits the cover, for fashion magazine InStyle in 1996, as a springboard for her own career. “I thought to myself later in life what an interesting foreshadowing that was to my career,” she explained. But more than that, she pays tribute to her mother for not only opening the door to her own acting career, but also the support to make a success of it.
“The fact that I was able to accomplish the things that I’ve been able to accomplish,” Hudson continued. “My mom gave me the floor and the opening to be able to feel confident enough to go out and feel like my life could be my own life.” However, that’s just one aspect of Hudson’s relationship with her mom.
As Hudson described, “Mom was definitely… You were strict when you needed to be strict. You were honest. And you were incredibly supportive.” And, as Hawn described it, her parenting style was seemingly focused more on developing her children’s characters than dwelling on any slips or blunders they made along the way.
“I got angry over bad behaviour, unkindness, [being a] smart alec,” Hawn explained. “I didn’t get mad over mistakes and those kinds of things.” What’s more, as Hudson described, her mother had a somewhat relaxed attitude towards her kids’ education, perhaps preferring to focus on her children’s passions and creativity as much as book smarts.
However, learning was a two-way street for Hawn. “I mean, listen, our children teach us, too. You know?” she explained. “Your children teach you; they’re your greatest teachers. So you learn a lot from your children, you know? And you should be, as a parent, available to them because you don’t know everything.”
Furthermore, Hudson described how conversations between her and her mother are far more often centered around family than work. She said, “People always ask me, ‘What advice has your mom given you?’ My whole career. And it was always like, ‘We don’t talk about career stuff really.’ But kids, that was really the most powerful, memorable thing you’ve ever said to me. Because it’s true.”
As Hudson recalled, “The best advice [Mom] ever gave me was when I was pregnant with [first child] Ryder and I was getting sad. Remember? And I [said], ‘Why am I so sad?’ And Mom was like, ‘Because you’re about to give birth.’” Hawn then imparted to her daughter something that has stuck with her for 16 years.
As Hudson described, “[When you give birth] it becomes his life and you have to remember that. [Mom] said, ‘The second that they leave your body they don’t belong to you any more. This is your last time with him that he actually belongs to you.’” Ryder was the first of Hudson’s three children and he came along in 2004, with second son Bingham born in 2011 and daughter Rani arriving in 2018.
“It’s true. It’s like letting go,” Hawn elaborated. “It’s learning to let go, and know that we don’t own each other. We just don’t. And as much as we like to think we do, one of the areas I think that a lot of mothers have is that they feel helpless. Because you don’t feel needed. You don’t feel like you’re needed. And there’s a weakness in your arms.”
Perhaps it’s recognizing that lack of ownership between people that is the root of Hawn’s success in her relationship with Kurt Russell. They have, of course, been together for 37 years, but, famously, the couple have never married. As the actress explained to British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror in May 2017, she prefers it that way.
Hawn said, “I like the idea of being his girlfriend and vice versa. I think you don’t demand things. I think we have independence, but two pillars hold up the house.” What’s more, the lack of ownership the actress described to People gives the couple freedom to be attracted to others without feelings of guilt.
As Hawn elaborated, “I’m sure I’ve been party to it, and Kurt’s been – we’re all normal this way. It’s like, ‘You really liked that guy, didn’t you?’ Or the woman says, ‘You were looking at her.’ My answer would be, ‘Of course. Why not? She’s beautiful.’ Would you want a man who doesn’t look?” She added, “I mean, come on. We’re human beings.”
Hawn had already been married twice before she met Russell. Her first marriage, to dancer and director Gus Tikonis, lasted seven years before ending in a $61,000 divorce. Her second, to singer Bill Hudson, bore her daughter and a son, Oliver. And yet, while Hawn is effectively stepmother to Russell’s son, Boston, from a previous marriage and the couple have their own son, Wyatt, their relationship remains informal.
Nevertheless, the Hawn-Russell relationship is so strong that Hudson affectionately refers to him as “Pa.” What’s more, the couple have become the benchmark for what the daughter strives for with her own family. In her case, Hudson’s three children came from her first marriage to singer Chris Robinson, a later engagement to musician Matt Bellamy and her current relationship with musician and actor Danny Fujikawa.
However, that’s not to say every day is sunshine and roses for Hawn and Russell. They’ve just learned how to iron out imperfections. As the actress explained to the Daily Mirror, “You have to learn how to work your way through an argument and be skillful about it and resolve it.” So how do the couple do it?
Well, as Hawn admitted, “Things happen during a marriage or a union. Things that are said that shouldn’t have been said, or things that are done that shouldn’t have been done. Or you feel neglected.” However, she and her partner overcome these obstacles by keeping a high appreciation of each other. In fact, Russell often reminds Hawn how beautiful she is.
“The other night we were going to go have dinner,” Hawn described to People. “[Russell] looks at me and goes, ‘You’re unbelievable.’ He said, ‘I cannot believe how [beautiful] you look.’” The actress paused to contemplate the moment. “Because I’m… old?” she asked jokingly. But the 74-year-old quickly brought the point back into focus.
“No,” Hawn stressed. “It was kind of like… he does make me feel [beautiful]. He does. And he really appreciates that.” Indeed, Hudson looks at her mom and pa as a relationship goal for herself and her family. She said, “I look at it and I’m like, ‘How do you guys do it?’ You know, I’m still working on that.”
Furthermore, Russell described his relationship with Hawn as “destined” to flourish. He told talk show host Graham Norton in 2019, “It’s been spectacular. But at the same time we live a normal life and have all the same issues that other people with four kids have.” Nevertheless, those kids look to their parents as a source of inspiration.
“All of us kids talk about it all the time,” Hudson confessed to People. “To live up to [their relationship] is really the goal… Just the fact that they have been able to maintain a unit for everybody. For us in times of turmoil or all of their grandkids or all of our kids, they really are the center of all our lives.”
Then Hudson spoke of her current relationship with Fujikawa. She explained, “Danny makes me feel… honestly he makes me feel beautiful every single moment of the day. Even when we have fought I still feel loved. His devotion to the family and to the unit… makes me feel safe and confident and secure.”
“It’s very important when you want to raise a family,” Hawn stressed. “And that is the first and foremost thing that you feel about your life. And it’s a decision that you make when you have your children and you have a man that loves your children, even the children that you may have had with someone else. That’s a very tough bond to break.”
And on the subject of being supportive, Hudson added, “Mom always said to me, ‘Don’t you ever let a man dim your light. Don’t ever let that happen, no matter what it is that’s going on in the relationship.’” However, Hawn has also offered her daughter advice for when things start to go wrong.
Hudson continued, “The second [the relationship] starts to dim your light you need to go inward and try to, like, really, in the most loving way, look at the choices that you’re making. Not blaming anybody else, just looking inward.” It’s a philosophy the 41-year-old has applied to her own relationships, including the failed ones.
“I have to say that I have zero regrets in my life,” Hudson declared. “I don’t have a very traditional set-up. But inside of that I’ve never defined myself through the way that a man sees me. But I can define myself in the unit that we can create together, you know? And I think that that is kind of what Mom gave to me.”
For Hawn, however, it’s as much about leading by example. She said, “It’s not what you say, it’s what you do, right? As a parent, as long as we actually behave the way that we’re actually speaking about, what we expect [from children], then we’re showing them. Because showing them is much more important than telling.”
And yet, despite all of Hawn’s advice, Hudson admitted to having a very different character to her mom. She described a childhood of following Hawn around, trying to get her attention simply because she couldn’t sit still. Hudson learned that the best time to engage with her mom was when she was on the treadmill.
By this evaluation, Hudson admits that Hawn and Russell couldn’t be more different. Nevertheless they “complement each other so well.” She explained, “Mom is kinetic and she is a butterfly. And Pa likes his family and his home. But when they’re together, it’s so powerful.” It’s an assessment with which Hawn agrees.
“He can sit and watch his games,” Hawn said of Russell. “He loves to golf you know, he loves his home. In the meantime, I say, ‘So no bike ride?’” But, by all appearances, the actress has an irrepressible energy flowing through her veins which her loved ones find captivating. It’s also a source of amusement for the Oscar-winner.
As Hawn recalled, “Granddaddy said to me once, ‘Girl, could you just sit down and smell the roses? Could you just sit down?’” It seems, then, as though the actress has always been full of energy, and there’s little sign of it dimming into her 70s. She continued, “I’ve gotta remind myself it’s time to just sit down.”
Despite this contrast in energy, then, Hawn and Russell have proven over nearly four decades that such differences can be overcome. She told the Daily Mirror, “If two people really want to be together there’s something to cherish, so you keep it fresh by surprising each other. Go to a hotel room, go take a hike. Make something happen that’s unusual.”
The couple have forged a partnership that’s endured for 37 years. As Hawn explained to People, “You want to stay in your power, but you also want to be forgiving. And you want to understand and have compassion for the other person. If you cannot do that, then you’re not giving yourself a real fair chance at a long-term relationship. And that’s a lesson that we all have to learn.”