By: Hudson Morgan
WATCH!: That’s a lot of estrogen.
OLIVER: My mom was doing the majority of raising me, and two things came out of that. I got to understand women just by osmosis—the sensitivity of girls and who my mother was. But on the flip side of that, you need a man in your life as a young boy. There are so many things that a male figure needs to teach you. Because, at the end of the day, we’re men. We’re masculine. I was a IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW HIM, IT MIGHT BE EASY TO MAKE NEGATIVE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT A GUY LIKE OLIVER HUDSON. Raised in a showbiz family in L.A., lots of famous kin (mom is Goldie Hawn, sis is Kate Hudson) you know the type. But you’d be wrong. In person, the 35-year-old actor—who plays aw-shucks Adam on Rules of Engagement—is a grounded, likable father of two who has earned his spot in prime time and is more prone to self-deprecation than self-adoration. Over lunch and a few Kronenbourgs at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris, Hudson opened up to Watch! about married life, co-star David Spade and how surrogate father Kurt Russell taught him not to be such a girlyman.
WATCH!: Let’s talk about your career path. You didn’t book anything until almost your mid-20s.
OLIVER HUDSON: I’m a slow burn! My sister, you know, hit hot. She did a few TV shows, then Almost Famous and—boom!—that was it. For me, it’s been a much slower road. But it’s the greatest thing that could have happened. Because I’m still burning. I’m still trying to make it. And you learn a lot along the way about how that struggle and that failure affects the rest of your life.
WATCH!: Meanwhile, Rules of Engagement keeps on ticking—and keeps getting better.
OLIVER: I think it’s really gotten solid, but it’s like anything else: The more time you spend together, the more you get to know each other. We’ve been an interesting show—we’re sort of the utility player, to put it into baseball terms. We’re not the superstar of the team, but if your third baseman or right fielder gets hurt, they’ll throw us in there. I can’t help but get involved in all the numbers watching. David Spade and I are always the ones calling each other, “Did you hear about this?” There’s always that strange false hope you have every week that this is gonna be the night when everyone decides to tune in. But that’s crazy talk! As long as we can stay consistent and keep doing what we’re doing, we’re all right.
WATCH!: Does Spade do any acting, or is that just David Spade up there?
OLIVER: There’s a fine line. There’s a lot of Spade in what he does, without a doubt. But he’s not that slimy. When you get to know Spade, you understand why he gets the tail he gets. He’s very charming, funny and one of the quickest-witted people I know. He’s irreverent and he’s aloof when it comes to women. And all of those things are a perfect storm to get laid.
WATCH!: Do you get the brunt of his abuse, or is he an equal opportunity offender?
OLIVER: Everybody on the show rips on everybody! Spade disses me about how easy life must be, you know? That’s his angle. “I bet when you were single, you didn’t have a tough time.” Rips on how easy I must have had it. I’m like,“Thanks for thinking so highly of me!” But he’s easy to make fun of, too. His little quirks, his metrosexuality. Bianca [Kajlich] and I are probably the tightest. She’s a great girl, but we get after each other.
WATCH!: What’s her Achilles’ heel?
OLIVER: Her eating. She just eats so damn much! She looks great, she works out a lot, she’s sexy and her body is great. But the girl can eat like a racehorse. And Adhir, the new guy, he gets just ripped. He’s so nice and so sweet. Too sweet. And he always has these girl issues because he’s so nice. Spade and I are like, “You have to develop an edge of some kind! You can’t throw your jacket down over every puddle.”
WATCH!: People always ask if your family gives you acting advice, but I think the more interesting question is what you’ve learned about women from your mom and sister.
OLIVER: [Laughs.] So much. Both of them are super alpha-female. My real dad [Bill Hudson] left—he just sort of took off—and Kurt Russell, who I call Pa, came into my life when I was about 6 and raised me. But there was a moment for about two years when it was just me, my mom and my sistermama’s boy. I was clinging to my mom’s leg. So Kurt came into my life and really toughened me up. It was about making me into a man, showing me what it was like to be masculine. Showing me that it was OK to be alone. I would hear him arguing with my mom and saying, “He’s too dependent on you!” I didn’t know the definition, but I could feel the emotion behind it. My mom was like, “I know, I know.” In some ways it might have been unconventional.
WATCH!: How so?
OLIVER: There was one thing he did that has stuck with me forever. Kurt had a house in Colorado and we had ATVs— three-wheelers—and I followed Kurt down to the river, which was maybe a quarter-mile down below the house. We went down there, driving along, and he disappears. I can’t find him. I was looking for him and I started to panic. A panic I’ve never had in my life, still to this day. He was gone! I’m gonna die out here! I just lost my mind. And he was sitting behind a tree, watching me lose my mind and letting me lose my mind.
WATCH!: Sounds intense.
OLIVER: And then he pulled out on his three-wheeler and calmed me down—“Oliver, Oliver, I’m right here”—and said, “You’re gonna get us home. I will be right behind you.” So I got us home. And we pulled up, and he goes, “See, you’re more aware of who you are and where you are in this world than you think.” From that moment, my life sort of took off. I was able to be OK alone; it was all right for me to be lost; I knew I could figure it out. I also hunted deer with him. I’d be in the middle of a huge valley with a .22 rifle at 10 years old. I was skinny like this and I looked crazy with a loaded weapon. And all of these little things, they built me. Thank God for Colorado. It was the greatest thing that’s ever happened. I don’t know what I’d be without it.
WATCH!: Probably getting manicures and moisturized every day.
OLIVER: I know. Dude, my life is the outdoors! I have a boat in L.A., I fish all the time out of Marina del Rey. I go on these six-, seven-day trips out of San Diego, these long-range fishing trips that only a moron would do because it’s so hardcore. You have to love fishing. You bunk with these weird fishermen …
WATCH!: I’m guessing your wife, Erinn, doesn’t come along on the mancations.
OLIVER: Never, no. She lets me do what I want to do. That’s the greatest thing about her. She’s great. She’s beautiful, sexy as hell, she knows I love to fish, she knows I love to golf, and she’s OK with all of it.
WATCH!: Do you guys still manage to spice it up with two young kids?
OLIVER: We go to hotels a lot, in the middle of the day. Leave the kids withthe nanny, that type of thing. We keep it sexy. You have to!