Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jimmy Kimmel asks Music star Kate Hudson that question about Sia's controversial casting

Jimmy Kimmel, Kate Hudson
Jimmy Kimmel, Kate Hudson
Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live

Kate Hudson teased Jimmy Kimmel Live viewers on Friday that she’d been mere moments from providing them a glimpse of stepdad Kurt Russell taking a nap. Hudson was doing the remote guesting thing from Russell and mom Goldie Hawn’s bedroom, and swore to Kimmel that she’d attempted to keep the hibernating Russell in frame, but, alas, we were not treated to the sight of a rumpled and snoring Kurt Russell in the background. Can’t have everything.

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Still, Hudson was there to talk about her recent Golden Globe nomination (she won for Almost Famous in 2001), for her singing and acting in Sia’s unexpectedly controversial new film, Music. The story of a neuroatypical young woman healed by the “power of love” (and presumably Sia’s music, as sung by the likes of Hudson and Leslie Odom Jr.), Music has courted that controversy through first-time director Sia’s choice of neurotypical actress Maddie Ziegler to play her lead character, a nonverbal woman with autism. And while Sia has not exactly covered herself in grace and glory with her atonally defensive/abusive responses to criticism from members of the autism community (and other people who think that filmmakers should really have learned about representation by this point), Hudson was relatively smooth about it when Kimmel brought the matter up.

“Nobody has really asked me that,” said Hudson of Kimmel raising the issue, and the actress was game to have the discussion she stated was only right and necessary. “It’s not a soundbite conversation,” said Hudson, “I think it’s an ongoing, important dialogue to be had about neurotypical actors playing neurodivergent characters.” See, Sia—not so hard. Hudson even steered Kimmel back toward this touchy ground when, at one point, the host brought up her Golden Globe nomination, explaining, “I feel terrible,” that members of the neuroatypical public have been hurt by her director’s casting choice. (Hudson did not, however, wade into Sia’s widely derided prickliness about that community daring to question her artistic choices, only agreeing with Kimmel that Sia is “lovely” person.)

Kimmel, who has been just as vocal in his support of the autism community (he told Hudson that he has autism in his own family) as he’s been scathing in his mockery of anti-vaxxers baselessly blaming autism on life-saving vaccines, kept that dialogue front-and-center throughout the last half of the interview, with Hudson delicately explaining her own willingness to listen. There was a touch of “Hey, I just work here,” to Hudson’s analysis of the issue, but at least, unlike some people involved in Music’s production, she didn’t engage by swearing at—and in one case, insulting—the very people she claimed to be trying to represent onscreen. (Or half-apologizing, then deleting her social media.) Anyway, Music is playing on VOD and in select IMAX theaters now.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.