Goldie Hawn plays a scorned woman bent on revenge in her new hit movie, First Wives Club. We asked her what makes her angry in real life…
Within minutes of meeting Goldie Hawn you’re her best friend and confidante. Seconds ago I was watching a shoddy TV program in one of London’s finest hotel bedrooms when this golden vision streaked past the TV set and lunged for the window, wailing, “I need to be outside.”
It was Goldie, and now she’s entertaining me with stories of how Princess Di stayed at her Colorado ranch and how her missing cosmetics bag was finally tracked down to the ladies’ room of the restaurant she’d dined in last night. She’d escaped momentarily from the TV crew in the room next door because she can’t smoke in there.
Peals of laughter punctuate her conversation, like golden chimes blowing in the wind. It’s her trademark, an unmistakable laugh that has made Goldie Hawn one of Hollywood’s most enduring and popular actresses since she won an Oscar in 1969 for Cactus Flower.
An hour later our official interview gets underway. We’re ushered into a sedate room and seated at a perfectly polished redwood table. Goldie wrestles uncomfortably with the antique chair and then gives up and flounces over to a sofa, beckoning for me to follow. Curling her bare feet under her, she sinks into the comfort of the cushions, as carefree as a 20-year-old on a hot California beach.
She’s glowing with a golden tan, wearing a bright orange leotard and matching sarong, and her yellow mane is bouncing merrily atop. She’s happy, happy, happy. Goldie Hawn is famous for being happy, but there must be something, I implore, which rattles that demeanor and makes her see red.
“Um, let’s see. Let me go into a trance,” she obliges, shuffling herself into the lotus position with eyes closed and hands pressed together.
“What makes me angry? Lies. Unkindness. Deception. When I feel misunderstood. Bad behavior by my children. When people impose their own beliefs on me without looking at me as a person to know who I am. But it would need to be a relentless thing in order to make me crack because I have a very long internal rubber band that takes quite a while before it breaks.”
In Goldie’s latest movie, First Wives Club, the rubber bands of its three stars most definitely snap. The women – played by Goldie, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton – join forces in this hilarious romp to take revenge on their errant exes.
Goldie herself is no stranger to divorce. She’s left two husbands in her wake and rather than trying for third time lucky, she’s opted to live with long term lover Kurt Russell without tying the knot.
“Divorce can be an important thing to do if you’re not happy in a marriage, but unfortunately it can become very ugly because people’s egos become involved. Issues of money, possessions, custody of children and jealousy come up. You begin to understand that what you’re really dealing with in marriage is ownership and control. This has made me ask: why get married if it only means that your partner will suddenly believe he owns you?”
She then beams and leans forward with a conspiratorial smile, “I just thought of this analogy – when you plug a lamp into its socket, it feels good, doesn’t it? The light goes on and it works! One is the male, one is the female. But they’re two separate things and unless each realizes the power of the other, then they cannot respect each other – and they can’t work without one another. And when you lose respect you lose your sexual attraction, your friendship… you lose just all of it.”
“The sixties philosopher Kahlil Gibran, who was a great philosopher, once wrote that the house of marriage does not stand unless the pillars are on either side of it.”
I tell her I have a copy of Gibran’s The Prophet and her cry of joy threatens to bring the chandelier toppling down. “It’s a secret, you know; it’s our secret to happiness!”
Couples make the mistake of imposing constraints on each other’s behavior. “Don’t do that!” she shouts to nobody in particular. “Kurt goes off and hunts, which I could never do. Yet would I impose my beliefs upon him and ask him not to do the one thing that gives him joy? No. I love to travel and visit India. Is he going to say I can’t go? No. So, these are the things we have to give each other – space to be who we are.”
Goldie’s attitude to relationships is self-taught. He parents were not a happy couple. “They didn’t fight and yell. It wasn’t ugly. There was lots of laughter in the house, but I couldn’t say they had a happy marriage. My mother was very dominating, which I swore I would never be.”
She’s kept her promise. Dominating she is not. Independent and feisty she is. “My sister and I were groomed to do something with our lives, so the idea that I would grow up and depend on a man to take care of me was never in my ‘personal bill of rights.'”
According to Hollywood gossip, Goldie is the one who has supported her previous husbands rather than the other way around. It’s said that her first husband, Gus Trakonis, made legal history when he became the first man to get alimony from a woman.
Goldie jumps to his defense. “He did not get alimony. He got a settlement, and he was not the first. He’s a wonderful man but he’s received a really bad rap from the press.”
She doesn’t speak as fondly of her second husband, Bill Hudson, father of her daughter, Katie (17), and her son, Oliver (19). “When Bill left me I never thought I’d ever find a man who’d love my children the way I do, because Bill was a horrible father. He never sees his children to this day!”. Then guardian angel Kurt Russell walked into her life…
“He was the answer to my prayers. Kurt’s a great ‘husband,’ a great man and an incredible father.
“I remember the first time he looked at my children. They were sleeping. We had a date and he came to pick me up. I said: ‘I want you to see my children.’ He went with me into their room and he saw them sleeping and he stood there and just stared at them for the longest time. Then he sat down and touched their hair and I said to myself: ‘This could be the one.'”
Russell remains “the one.” They moved in together 13 years ago, along with Katie and Oliver and Kurt’s son, Boston (16) and 10 years ago a third son, Wyatt was added to the equation. They happy family trek through the mountains in Colorado, play Scrabble at their Canadian lakeside retreat and cycle through France together. The two older children even escorted their mom to the premiere of First Wives Club. Most teens cringe at public displays of affection from their parents, but not this Bradly-like bunch.
Katie and Oliver want to follow in their mom’s thespian footsteps. Her advice to them: “Always be honorable and be responsible for your actions. Be kind and never fight back. I mean, when people write bad things ago you, just let it go. It’s obviously someone else’s problem, not yours.”
It’s a philosophy which obviously works, as Goldie is seldom trashed in the media. Last time she was in London, the worst criticism a reporter could muster up was that Goldie looked like mutton dressed as lamb. It turned out that the cowardly critic was a female whose body had clearly never been anywhere near as gorgeous as Goldie’s.
So does Goldie owe her good looks to tummy tucks, face-lifts and collagen implants, like her First Wives Club character? “I did my upper eyelids because they were getting heavy, and I would do plastic surgery if necessary. Fortunately, I come from a very young-looking family and I’ve inherited those genes. I also do a lot of exercise, and it all pays off. I don’t have a problem with plastic surgery, but you can’t use plastic surgery as a tool to find happiness – for that you’ve got to look within. After all, you still age and everything breaks down and, yes, we die.”
Two years ago Goldie’s mother died of heart complications and the star retreated from the acting world. Everything she’d ever achieved had been for her mom and there seemed no point in going on.
“My relationship with my mom was very deep. She said to me when I was 12: ‘I want you to put Aunt Goldie’s name in lights.’ Aunt Goldie was such a wonderful woman – she raised my mother,” explains Goldie. “It was hard when mom died, but I gave it time and I’m fine now. I recently turned 50 and that was such a liberating experience.”
She couldn’t have chosen a better vehicle in which to turn to acting that First Wives Club: it rocketed straight to number one in America.
“It’s about bonding and how important female relationships are in life. And if a man is threatened by that, it’s too bad. When a man tries to control or usurp a woman’s time, she eventually empties out because she has nothing to give back to the relationship. I think that for a woman to maintain her level of mystique, sexiness and sexuality, she has to withhold a bit of herself. The other day somebody said to Kurt, ‘Well, you know Goldie,’ and he said in a very sexy way, ‘No, I don’t know all of Goldie,’ and he like that.”
Since completing First Wives Club, Goldie’s been filming a new Woody Allen movie. It took her on a journey back to when she was an ambitious young dancer who ran her own studio at the age of 18.
“It brought back so many memories. It was really fun, so fabulous. The name of the movie is Everyone Falls In Love. Everybody does fall in love. Everyone!” she squeals.
Actually the film is called Everybody Says I Love You, but Goldie’s having such fun playing with the words “everyone falls in love” that I don’t want to pop her balloon. You see, everyone does fall in love with Goldie.
PERSONALITY, 15 November 1996