“Lemons,” says Ryder intently, his long blond hair bouncing around his shoulders.
“You're going to get lemons?” she calls after him. “Making lemonade?”
Oblivious to her questions, Ryder dashes on toward his destination, a lemon tree just outside the door. Hudson and Robinson watch him go with the rapt attention particular to young parents.
Robinson breaks the spell first. He turns to me and says dramatically, “Forget everything you've seen here.” He and Hudson share a loud, slightly strained laugh, as if to blot out this unexpected glimpse of their unusual but charmed life, their little corner of rock 'n' roll paradise.
It's the day after the red-carpet premiere for Hudson's latest film, the bayou ghost tale Skeleton Key, and when she sits down to chat underneath a poolside loggia, she yawns loudly and professes to be worn out. But she looks radiant, a carbon copy of her mother, Goldie Hawn, at her ditzy blond best. Hudson's hair is a tumble of spun gold, and her wide-set eyes are emphasized by a dusting of sparkly white powder.
During the course of the interview, Hudson is bubbly and relaxed, with an offhand confidence that belies her 26 years. Gracious and professional, she has the manners of true Hollywood royalty and takes pains to downplay her privileged background. Asked at one point if she was aware as a child of her mother's fame—and that of Hawn's longtime partner, Kurt Russell—she admits that she was, but insists that it didn't define the family's home life. (Russell is Hudson's father figure, since she isn't especially close to her biological father, musician Bill Hudson. “I see him every once in a while,” she says of Hudson senior. “I run into him and stuff.”)
“We just don't find our business that interesting,” Hudson says, as if the family business were potato farming. “When I was growing up, we never talked about what our parents did. They never talked about their work when they came home. And it's still like that. Now when we go around the table, it's like, ‘Ryder said “tattoo” for the first time.’ That's the focus.”
Hudson clearly adores her family, and she reveals none of the competitive stain that marks some mother-daughter relationships. Still, she says that even today she wouldn't think of asking career advice at a family reunion. “If I was turning to my parents,” Hudson says wryly, “I don't know why I'd be paying 10 percent to my agent.”
It's a savvy if not entirely credible remark, and it shows the quick wit and self-deprecating humor that have made Hudson one of Hollywood's most likable young actresses. She shot to fame five years ago with a memorable performance as rock groupie Penny Lane in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous and established her box office benchmark with 2003's $100 million—plus hit How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. After last year's forgettable Raising Helen and the uncharacteristically gloomy Skeleton Key, the upcoming romantic comedy You, Me and Dupree, which begins filming this month with Owen Wilson and Matt Dillon, promises to make better use of Hudson's unparalleled ability to light up the screen. Beyond that, she is beginning to craft her own vehicles and is developing a drama about a father-daughter relationship called Sleight of Mind.