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Kicking back with Kurt

Whether it's been leaving acting for a stint as a second baseman or taking on roles that would one day become iconic, actor Kurt Russell has always been a maverick.
Betsy Model
From the Print Edition:
Kurt Russell, May/June 2006

(continued from page 4)

In reality, Russell's a devoted son, brother, father and grandfather, and he and Goldie Hawn have been a couple for 23 years. Their combined family of four children includes actors Kate and Oliver Hudson (Goldie's two children from her second marriage to musician Bill Hudson), Boston Russell (Russell's son from his marriage to actress Season Hubley) and Wyatt Russell, his son with Hawn. The family got slightly bigger in 2004 when Kate and her musician husband Chris Robinson added son Ryder into the mix. For the record and despite media stories to the contrary, Russell reports, Ryder does not call Goldie "Glam-ma" and Kurt "Mr. President."

"I couldn't pronounce my middle name, Vogel, when I was a kid," Russell explains, "so I'd tell people it was 'Gogo.' It became a family nickname and 30 years later I discovered that it was Goldie's nickname as a child, too. So Ryder calls Goldie 'Gogo' and I'm 'Gogi,'" he says, chuckling.

Gogi? This soft side of Russell is so obvious at times, such as when he's talking about his kids, Goldie or his grandson, but so thoroughly absent when discussing less personal matters. He's more critical when talking about work or politics or offering up his opinion on weapons of mass destruction (they're out there, we just haven't found them), the role of the media (we're lazy, complacent and not doing our job), government wiretapping (he couldn't care less since he's not personally talking to anyone in Afghanistan right now) or political parties (he's Libertarian). It's all just part of the fascinating dichotomy that becomes apparent in Russell only after long periods of exposure.

Russell is ambivalent about allowing that exposure and, not surprisingly, just doesn't see himself as a particularly complex guy. He doesn't have a personal publicist, he says, because he doesn't really want publicity. With this interview taking place just a few days before the Academy Awards, Russell makes his point by joking that, in giving their acceptance speech, award winners shouldn't thank their spouse, their director, their mother or the Academy; they should thank their publicist. It's the publicity machine, he says, that propels people in the acting world, publicity that gets them bigger roles, bigger contracts, bigger paychecks.

Russell himself gives very few interviews—and when he does they're typically short, 10-minute sound bites—because, he insists, he doesn't have anything to say. Plus, the media, he insists, will just get it all wrong or, because they're basically lazy, scrounge up material that's already been in print and just recycle it, accurate or not. Like this whole nasty macho stereotype.

Kurt Russell would like it to be known that he isn't macho. Never has been, he says, and the term is "crap. Fucking crap. My family reads that stuff and just shake their heads. They laugh about it, my sisters do and my mom does, because they want to know who that guy is that they're reading about. It sure as all hell isn't me!"

When asked to supply a word that his sisters might offer as an alternative, he blurts out "sweet," before thinking about it for a moment and then, almost defensively, saying it again. "I'm sweet. I am. I can be really sweet and I like to do things for the people I'm close to."

Prodded for an example, he offers up "I make Goldie a cappuccino every morning and sometimes," he mumbles, staring down at his feet, "I draw little designs in the foam."

That he's still got a soft spot for Hawn after nearly a quarter of a century is obvious; he readily admits to still being knocked out by her beauty (Hawn just turned 60 but could easily pass for 15 years younger) and describes her as strong, spirited, hardworking and committed to having fun in life.

Both Russell and Hawn, whether in interviews or in Goldie's 2005 memoir A Lotus Grows in the Mud, have tackled the question of whether they'll ever get married with humor and quick-witted replies such as "Been there, done that twice…and I have the financial statements to prove it" (Hawn) and "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" (Russell), but Russell says that while it's still not out of the question, it's not all that big a deal to them. He says that at various times over the years they've asked the kids whether it was important to them that they get married, whether it was an issue for them at school or among their peers, and said that if it was, they would.

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