From Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) to Almost Famous (2000), here are the best Kate Hudson movies/performances, ranked.
Born April 19, 1979 in Los Angeles, Kate Hudson is the daughter of renowned actress Goldie Hawn. Her father Bill Hudson is a comedian and singer. Kate’s parents divorced when she was only a year old, and she considers actor Kurt Russell – long-time boyfriend of her mother – as her father. Kate Hudson was interested in singing and dancing from a young age. She made her stage debut at the age of 11. Kate was accepted into New York University, but she opted for a professional acting career and made her screen debut with the 1998 dramedy Desert Blue.
After a couple of critically-panned romantic comedies, Kate Hudson got her breakthrough role in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous (2000). The iconic Penny Lane character won her a Golden Globe and an Oscar and BAFTA nomination. In 2003, she starred in the rom-com How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days opposite Matthew McConaughey. The film was a huge box-office hit and led her to be cast in few more rom-coms. In fact, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz became prominent actresses of Hollywood rom-coms in the 2000s.
Kate Hudson has also taken on independent projects like The Killer Inside Me (2010), The Reluctant Fundamentalist(2012), and Wish I Was Here (2014). In 2007, she directed a beautiful short film titled Cutlass. Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, and Virginia Madsen were part of this 16-minute short film. Kate Hudson is also a fashion mogul. She co-founded Fabletics in 2013 and launched her own active wear brand.
Here’s a look at some of the best Kate Hudson performances.
Best Kate Hudson Movies, Ranked
13. Raising Helen (2004)
Gary Marshall’s totally predictable comedic drama failed to leave an impact largely because of a weak screenplay and unimaginative direction. Kate Hudson plays a self-absorbed young woman named Helen Harris who works at a Manhattan modeling agency. When Helen’s elder sister and brother-in-law die in an accident, she’s asked to take custody of her sister’s three children. Though unprepared for the responsibility and after a few mishaps, Helen gradually becomes their surrogate mother. Kate Hudson is thoroughly engaging in a role that somehow lacks depth.
Kate portrays Helen’s determination to live a better life for the sake of children, in a genuine manner. Her easygoing charisma makes a terrific impression. But the narrative veers into the romantic comedy territory by introducing a male lead to woo Helen. Kate’s effortless dramatic performance is offset by the light-hearted romance. Raising Helen remains occasionally entertaining thanks to Kate Hudson and Joan Cusack (Helen’s sister).
12. The Four Feathers (2002)
Shekar Kapur’s The Four Feathers is based on A.E.W. Mason’s 1902 novel of the same name which has been adapted multiple times. The narrative revolves around Heath Ledger’s Harry Faversham, a charming British soldier engaged to the attractive Ethne Eustace (Kate Hudson). Harry is suddenly called to active duty in North Africa. But doubts and fears get the better of him, and he resigns from the Army. The truth about his resignation reaches Eustace and other friends. As a result, Harry is disavowed by everyone and disowned by his father. Eventually, Harry travels to North Africa to prove himself.
Shekar Kapur, director of Elizabeth (1998), wanted to update the story for a modern audience. Hence he brought in Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson to play the lead roles. Kate was signed in for the movie before the critical success of Almost Famous. She offers a fine performance as the confused upper class British woman. Though it’s a small role and somewhat underwritten, the narrative perks up whenever she’s on screen.
11. Deepwater Horizon (2016)
In April 2010, Deepwater Horizon – an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico – exploded claiming the lives of 11 men. It led to one of the worst environmental disasters ever witnessed. The oil spill killed thousands of marine animals and caused irreversible damage to their habitats. Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon simply looks at the things that went wrong on the fateful day in 2010. The narrative unfolds from the perspective of Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), who leaves his quiet domestic life with wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) to work for 21-days at the oil rig.
Kate Hudson’s Felicia receives news of the disaster, but has no way to confirm about Mike’s safety. She spends most of the later-half anxiously moving between the kitchen and the phone, while also attempting to maintain her composure in front of her young daughter. Though Kate doesn’t have a lot of screen time, she’s moving as the distressed wife. She also shared a scene with her step-dad Kurt Russell for the first time.
10. The Killer Inside Me (2010)
Michael Winterbottom’s controversial and violent neo-noir is based on Jim Thompson’s 1952 novel of the same name. The gruesome tale is an exploration of the post-war American men’s damaged psyche. Set in small-town Texas, Casey Affleck plays Lou Ford, a deputy sheriff who’s also a dangerous sociopath. Lou dates a local school teacher named Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson). It appears he’ll marry her and settle down for an unremarkable life in the small town. But Lou’s depravity soon surfaces after his affair with a local prostitute, Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba).
Kate Hudson as Lou’s girlfriend offers a more complex and enchanting performance that transcends the typical depiction of tragic noir female-leads. She makes good use of the chance to play a solemn role, which could have come across as bland in the hands of another actor. Kate Hudson was initially thought to be miscast as Amy. But she faultlessly brings to screen the good-hearted woman’s despair and prolonged suffering.
9. Marshall (2017)
Reginald Hudlin’s Marshall is an entertaining biographical drama. It chronicles the life and times of Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman), the first African-American Supreme Court justice. Kate Hudson appeared as Eleanor Strubing, a white socialite who accuses black chauffeur Joseph Spell of raping her. The case went to trial in 1941, and it was Thurgood’s first case as a lawyer. Since it was a turbulent era in terms of race relations, Thurgood had to partner with a white lawyer to represent the case. Spell was eventually acquitted and the charges were proved to be false.
Kate Hudson has confessed in her interviews that she was initially nervous about playing a woman who falsely accuses someone of rape. But Hudson took on the challenge of playing the incredibly complex character. She saw it as an artistic challenge to play characters that are very different from her. Kate’s teary-eyed performance in the courtroom was one of the film’s most intense moments. She attaches a vulnerability to the character that nearly convinces us of Spell’s alleged crime.
8. Truth be Told (2019 – )
Apple TV+ crime drama anthology series Truth be Told revolves around true crime podcaster Poppy Parnell (played by Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer). The series is based on Kathleen Barber’s novel which looks at America’s obsession with true crime. Kate Hudson played the lead role in the second season alongside Octavia. She plays Poppy’s childhood best friend and media mogul, Micah. Micah seeks the help of Poppy to discreetly investigate the murder of her unfaithful husband, Joshua.
The mystery and crime elements in season 2 of Truth be Told didn’t work well. However, the performances of real-life pals, Kate and Octavia have our attention. Kate Hudson has previously appeared in the critically acclaimed TV series Gleein the role of a dance teacher character. This is her first time playing a lead-role in a TV series and she delivers a nuanced and earnest performance. Kate’s Micah has a lot of gray shades. And the actress gracefully brings richness and depth to the character.
7. About Adam (2000)
Kate Hudson plays Lucy Owens in this quirky romantic comedy directed by Gerard Stembridge. Lucy is a wonderful singer and a waitress working at a hip Dublin cafe. She is a carefree woman who has been in relationships but never found true love. That is, until she meets charming Adam one day at the cafe. But just as Lucy feels she has found the right man, Adam’s amorous involvement with her two sisters comes to light. Stembridge employs Rashomon type storytelling where the narrative proceeds to a point, and the same story is told from a different character’s point of view.
Though Kate Hudson fumbles a bit with the Irish accent (she’s also surrounded by Irish actors), her pleasing screen presence and singing ability carry the film. About Adam was made before Kate’s casting in Almost Famous. But it was not released into theaters until Kate’s star-making turn in Cameron Crowe’s film. In fact, her high spirit-radiating performance in About Adam elevated the film’s success.
6. Nine (2009)
Rob Marshall’s Nine was based on the 1982 Broadway musical of the same name, which itself was inspired by Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical feature 81/2 (1963). Rob Marshall has previously adapted the black comedy Broadway musical, Chicago. The 2002 adaptation was a huge hit and earned Best Picture Academy Award. However, Nine was a disappointment in a lot of ways. It failed to charm the critics and was a box-office failure. Nine featured a jaw-dropping ensemble cast. Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Judi Dench.
It unfolds as a series of episodes where actors and actresses exhibit their impeccable skills. While there’s no doubting the quality of talent displayed here, only a few leave an impact. Kate Hudson and Penelope Cruz’s are the most memorable segments. Kate’s rendition of the song ‘Cinema Italiano’ gave her the perfect chance to utilize her incredible singing voice and dance skills. In the film, she plays Vogue fashion journalist Stephanie.
5. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)
Glass Onion is the second film in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out Mystery, which features an eccentric yet super-smart detective, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). This murder mystery narrative is set on the private island of a tech billionaire named Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Kate Hudson plays Birdie Jay, a controversial fashion entrepreneur, and an ex-model. She is one of the select group of friends invited by Miles. Though Glass Onion features an ensemble cast, and Kate isn’t at the center of the action, she steals every scene she is in with her impeccable comic dialogue delivery.
Kate Hudson’s Birdie belongs to the class of oblivious rich, who, when we first see, is throwing a house party during the COVID lockdown. The character’s insensitivity, ignorance, and superficial nature are hilariously brought out by Kate Hudson. Even though Birdie remains a perfect style icon on the surface, her deep-seated insecurities and darker side are revealed in a nuanced manner.
4. The Skeleton Key (2005)
Iain Softley’s The Skeleton Key is set in the bayous of Southern United States which instantly evokes an atmosphere of menace, similar to remote New England locale in Stephen King’s stories. Hudson plays the role of a hospice nurse Caroline Ellis, a serious role that is a departure from romantic comedies. Caroline, exhausted by her work at the hospice, takes a job offer in a dilapidated mansion in Louisiana which is situated near a swampy plantation. An elderly couple occupies the mansion. Caroline needs to look after stroke-afflicted Ben Devereaux. His wife Violet agrees to hire a nurse through her lawyer.
Soon after taking the job, Caroline finds something cryptic about the house particularly when she sees a hidden room in the attic. Skeleton Key is a taut occult horror that largely works due to the good performances of Kate Hudson and Gena Rowlands (as Violet). Kate’s Caroline is a very complex character who inherently feels the need to help others, and yet is constantly burdened by her own feelings of remorse and guilt.
3. How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days (2003)
Donald Petrie’s popular rom-com made $177.5 million in the box-office and was one of the most successful movies in the career of its stars. Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. The film is based on the comedic cartoon guide of the same name, illustrated by Michele Alexander and Jeanine Long. Kate Hudson plays Andie Anderson, who has a Master’s in journalism but writes fluffy ‘How To’ columns for a New York magazine. McConaughey plays Barry, an arrogant advertisement executive who can sell anything.
Andie’s editor asks her to write an article titled ‘How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days’. And begins the battle of the sexes between Andie and Barry.
The film packs a lot of rom-com clichés, yet works due to the dazzling chemistry between Kate Hudson and McConaughey. Kate’s role initially went to Gwyneth Paltrow. Director Donald Petrie mentions that most of the iconic moments in the film weren’t scripted. The scene where Andie tosses veg platter in the air during Ben’s poker night was an improvisation on Kate’s part and hence the actor’s reactions are so genuine. Kate Hudson and McConaughey reunited five years later for the adventure/drama Fool’s Gold (2008).
2. Wish I Was Here (2014)
Zach Braff, the star of successful television series Scrubs (2001-2010), made his directorial debut with the indie hit Garden State (2004). He returned to directing a decade later with Wish I Was Here. Zach plays Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor. Kate Hudson, Zach’s long-time friend, plays Aidan’s loving wife, Sarah and the family’s breadwinner. She supports her husband and takes care of their two children. Aidan is really at a crossroads in his life, and he has to either succeed in his profession or give it up.
Wish I Was Here could have gone deeper with its themes of marriage and mortality. Nevertheless, the single-most appealing aspect of the film is Kate Hudson’s earnest performance. While she excelled in what was given to her in the formulaic rom-coms, Kate deserved deeper roles. Zach Braff gives the actress the space to play her character with great dramatic depth. There’s a brilliant scene between the strong, independent Sarah and her father-in-law Saul (Mandy Patinkin). Kate hits all the emotional beats perfectly in this sensibly written scene.
1. Almost Famous (2000)
Cameron Crowe’s fresh and funny, Almost Famous tells the tale of a young writer’s initiation into the 70s rock music world. It’s loosely based on Crowe’s own experiences as a teenage music journalist. The film has a phenomenal cast which includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Frances McDormand, and Billy Crudup. But it was Kate Hudson’s irresistible Penny Lane that captured everyone’s attention. She plays the self-proclaimed ‘groupie’ with whom the young journalist William falls in love.
The word ‘groupies’ carried a strong negative connotation in the rock n’ roll music scene. In fact, Kate’s Penny Laneaddresses this earlier in the narrative, “We don’t have intercourse with these guys. We support the music. We inspire the music. We’re here because of the music!”
Almost Famous has plenty of lyrical shots which focus on Kate’s radiant face, particularly the moment when Penny twirls around the empty stage. But both Cameron and Kate also often hint at Penny’s darker emotions and inner turmoil. Look out for the scene when Kate’s Penny wipes away a tear before forcing a smile. Kate’s role initially went to Sarah Polley. But when she backed out, Kate implored Cameron to audition for the role. The director was instantly impressed by the 21-year old actress. Kate was already cast to play a minor role as William’s sister (the role later went to Zoey Deschanel).
There we are! These are some of the best Kate Hudson movies. She was often ill-served by films that limited her role only as a charming screen presence. And the actress didn’t get much critical attention when she played against type. Cue Kate Hudson’s TV show Truth Be Told. Nevertheless, the season suffered from convoluted writing. Kate Hudson deserves better, richer roles that don’t solely rely on her comic flair and cuteness.
She’ll next be seen in the indie drama A Little White Lie, co-starring with Michael Shannon and Zach Braff, where she plays Simone, an academic programmer trying to save a school’s literary festival.
An ardent cinephile, who truly believes in the transformative power and shared-dream experience of cinema. He blogs at ‘Passion for Movies.’