In the new Netflix film "The Christmas Chronicles 2," you get pretty much what you'd expect from a big holiday movie, along with Kurt Russell as arguably the fittest Santa Claus ever. And of course, his longtime, real-life partner, Goldie Hawn, plays the Mrs.
But it might surprise you to know that, for Goldie and Kurt, the Clauses are more than merely mythical.
"I like your approach to these characters, because you take them seriously," said correspondent Tracy Smith. "This is not a caricature, or a cartoon."
"You gotta remember, he's a real human being," said Russell. "He's not a comic book character. He's not made up, he's not drawn up. He was a bishop. He was a man. The question, of course, is through the myth and the legend and whatnot, how is he still around? How is that possible?"
To watch a trailer for "The Christmas Chronicles 2" click on the video player below:
But no matter how St. Nicholas, a.k.a. Santa, is still around, or how he and the Mrs. wound up together, the real-life story of Kurt and Goldie has a certain magic all its own.
Their first meeting, if you can call it that, happened on the set of the 1968 Disney musical, "The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band."
So, was there a first impression? "I don't know," said Russell.
"I think for me, I mean, he was way too young for me," said Hawn. "I was, like, dating older guys, right? I was what, 20?"
"I was only 15 years old," said Russell. "I didn't even have a car. I didn't have a license."
Hawn was a dancer without much of a speaking part (her role was "Giggly Girl") – and what's more, the producer didn't even like her name.
"He called me and he said, 'You know, I know this is sensitive, but you really, your name sounds like a stripper.' My mother gave me that name! That was my great-aunt's name, Goldie. And I said, 'Oh, I'm not changing my name. I'm sorry.' I said, 'You know, my middle name is Jeanne. What about Goldie Jeanne Hawn? Would that work for you?' And he went, 'Well, I guess it's gonna have to work.' And I said, 'Gee, I guess it is!'"
Russell asked, "Were you ever billed that way again?"
"No," she replied. "That was it, Goldie Jeanne Hawn."
"That's where we met!" Russell said.
But by the 1980s, Goldie Hawn was a name: an Oscar-winner (for "Cactus Flower"), who could produce a hit movie and star in it, too ("Private Benjamin").
Watch a scene with Goldie Hawn with Eileen Brennan and Hal Williams in "Private Benjamin":
Smith said, "You were producing/directing/acting at a time when a lot of women were not doing that. How many times did you hear, "No'?"
"Not many," said Hawn. "Unh-uh. But the problem wasn't the 'no,' the problem was the trepidation, really, of other, male directors wanting to work with me, because they thought that I would wanna take over."
For his part, Kurt Russell had shed his wholesome Disney image for something a little grittier, such as Snake in "Escape From New York. " And when he met Hawn again during his audition for 1984's "Swing Shift," both were divorced, and neither was looking for love.
"Matter of fact, when I met Goldie, I was at a time in my life and a period of my life where I was very definitely gonna put my worst foot forward when it came to any kind of a relationship, or the possibility of a relationship," he said. "I put my worst foot forward. If you can handle that, then maybe there's a chance of some reality there being together."
"You put your worst foot forward? I could hardly say that," said Hawn. "I would say if you'd done that with me I wouldn't be with you today."
"Well, I think I did, but … I did. I did kinda."
How so? "Well, the first time I met her I was horribly hungover. You know, that's not a good foot forward."
"But sort of fun. Your worst foot forward?"
"Well, I didn't try to put my best foot forward, because it's a hard thing to hold that up. You know, once you've done that, now you've established something – you've set a bar that you can't stay with, you can't keep."
"Like, you're really confusing me right now," Hawn said. "This is like a group therapy session!"
In the four decades since they met, Russell and Hawn have created some extraordinary characters, but each on their own: Two very separate careers under one roof.
Watch Kurt Russell with Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh in "The Hateful Eight":
Smith asked, "Do you guide each other as far as the roles that you've chosen? Do you talk about it before you say yes or no?"
"Very rarely," Hawn said. "He's never made a mistake in terms of what he's decided to do, ever. But he's never been bad. Ever. And so even movies that I didn't like …"
Russell laughed. "You're gonna get a lotta push back on that!"
"No, you've never been bad!"
"I agree with you – I don't think I've ever been bad!" Russell laughed.
"You've been bad in other ways, you know?" Hawn said. "But as an actor, I mean, I just think you're amazing."
Of course, Hawn hasn't made all that many career missteps, either.
And when they're not working, they divide their time between homes in Aspen and Los Angeles.
They say they're proudest of their blended family – four children between them, with six grandchildren, and, it seems, enough love to go around.
Smith asked, "I'm sure you guys get asked this. What is the secret, if you could boil it down?"
"There's no secret," said Hawn. "And I love you for asking that question, because it's a normal question. But there's two things, for me, anyway. And it's that you both wanna be together. I mean, you've gotta want to be together. And as long as you … why are you laughing?"
Russell said. "Just because it's, you're right. It's up and down, it's sideways, it's whatever. At the end of the day, how do you explain it? I don't know! I guess it's as simple as saying, for me it's the same thing as what you're saying. I call that love."
"But you can actually survive a relationship in a way that when you get older you go, 'Ah, I'm so glad I got through whatever period that was,'" Hawn said. "Do you know what I mean? Because the relationships go through periods, sometimes really hard times. But there's nothing sweeter than having a family, and that is worth everything."
For more info:
- "The Christmas Chronicles 2" debuts November 25 on Netflix
Story produced by John D'Amelio. Editor: Lauren Barnello.
- ("Sunday Morning," 5/14/17)
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