Kurt's Opening Act! (Entertainment Tonight)



KURT RUSSELL is in the midst of shooting his new thriller, 'Plague Season.' LEONARD MALTIN chats with Kurt about the gritty character he plays, former flicks, TV surfing and stepdaughter KATE HUDSON!


LEONARD MALTIN: What turns you on? What got you to say yes?

KURT RUSSELL: Well, it was a three or four year process for me. There was something about it that really stuck in my mind. I guess it was the grittiness and realness of the 1992 riots, and what was going on then. This story is a microcosm that sort of runs headlong into it. I did a movie once called 'Silkwood' with MIKE NICHOLS and MERYL STREEP. The way they presented it, it was about the people, and there was this enormous backdrop that was always there, but you really got into the lives of these people, and you could hang with them for awhile. There was a quality to this movie that was like that.

LEONARD: Describe your character and his place in this story.

KURT: He was brought up in the fashion of old gun slingers, but he's a policeman. But he's brought up, as he says, to be a killer by a family of killers. In the beginning of the movie, he takes great sense of pride in that. By the end of the movie, he realizes that he's a part of the large problem. It's a character, who, when you meet him at the very beginning of the movie, you realize he is completely, totally, politically incorrect, but it's not only that, it's also in a bit of a nasty way. He enjoys it. He enjoys always being a dinosaur. He doesn't believe in changes that have and should have taken place. It does give you an opportunity to understand people like him who take pride in their wanting to keep things the way they used to be, in more black and white terms.... He's a bull in a china shop and he's got a badge.

LEONARD: When you look at a young actor like SCOTT SPEEDMAN, who you're working with here, do you have any interesting thoughts in recalling yourself at that juncture in your own career?

KURT: Sure, and what's more fun is to really just watch him and enjoy his abilities. He has a career in front of him that's very interesting. He works very hard. He's living in a different time, where he's working on a TV series and trying to make decisions about a picture he wants to do or doesn't want to do. I am enjoying watching him and looking back a bit and thinking, I do remember trying to look into the crystal ball at that time. I'm enjoying him because one of the things that I think is going to hold him in good stead is he's very interested in things outside acting, for his own person, to a point where he wants to really get involved in some things. I think that will help him greatly as an actor, and I hope things work out for him. We're half way through this movie right now and I think he's doing a terrific job. I think he's handling all the situations really well. And he's a good guy. Plus, we went and played a little two-on-two basketball with a couple of guys at USC, and all I can tell you is that he can shoot the ball. Because we won the game, and I didn't make a basket. (laugh) I fed him a lot, and I rebounded some, but he did all the work. So, I appreciated him on the basketball court.

LEONARD: If you're home and you're channel surfing, and you come across an old film of yours, do you stop and watch for a little while?

KURT: If I'm sitting down with a purpose, like watching a game or something, no, I get there. But, if I'm just surfing around, and I haven't seen it for a long time, yeah, I do. And every once in a while it happens. Well, I did the DVD thing for 'Big Trouble in Little China.' I hadn't seen that since we did it.

KURT: Let me ask you this, when you review a movie, and then you see it like 10 years later, have you ever changed your mind?

LEONARD: Oh sure.

KURT: You know what, that was a good movie, then you go back and read the review, and you trashed it. Do you say, "Why did I like that movie?" Is that because your sensibilities change, or what?

LEONARD: Well, because we all change, the world changes, and our perceptions of movies change and nothing stands still.

KURT: I think that's fair. That happened to me on one significant movie that I had nothing to do with, 'The Shining.' The first time I watched 'The Shining,' I just said, "Naah." The second time I saw it, I started to watch it and I was surprised that I kept watching it. It was better than I thought. The third time I saw it, about a year later, I was like, I actually kind of like that movie. Now if I ever see 'The Shining,' it's like, "'The Shining!' One of the greatest movies!" (laugh)

LEONARD: What did you think of KATE (HUDSON) in 'Almost Famous'?

KURT: Well, sounds bad, being a step dad, but I thought Kate was doing good in some of the earlier work she was doing. I saw some of her abilities getting better. And then she just took this quantum leap. It shows you, it seems to be, that this is a director's medium. And if you have talent as an actor, and that director knows how to use it, you're going to look great. CAMERON CROWE made her look great. She had the goods. I thought she was spectacular!

LEONARD: So did I.

KURT: I thought she was spectacular, and I really don't say that lightly. I'm happy for her being in this field with that talent. She's going to go through all kinds of ups, downs, sideways, and she knows that, but hopefully she'll work with good people all the time. Good actors, good directors, and they'll push her, and she'll push them, and they'll find great things, and entertain audiences!


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