Wednesday, February 21, 2001

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A rhinestone jumpsuit, a couple of sideburns and a cool pair of shades transform Kurt Russell into a convincing Elvis Presley in “3000 Miles to Graceland.” He co-stars with Kevin Costner, Courteney Cox Arquette and Christian Slater in the blood-soaked crime thriller about a gang of Elvis-impersonating bad guys who knock over a Las Vegas casino.

Mr. Russell´s credentials for the part were impeccable. Not only had he already played the king of rock ´n´ roll in a 1979 made-for-TV biopic, but he met the man himself, as a 10-year-old boy with a bit part in Mr. Presley´s 1963 movie “It Happened at the World´s Fair.”

Mr. Russell discussed the upcoming film a few days before Kate Hudson, his “stepdaughter” with longtime companion Goldie Hawn, received an Academy Award nomination for her supporting role in “Almost Famous.”

Q: What kind of memories do you have of Elvis?

A: I remember very distinctly working with him, the way he looked and sounded. He was a nice man. If you were there when you were 10 years old and met this guy, you would have basically the same impression. It was pretty significant, and so it was fun to revisit that here.

Q: Did you have any objections to the amount of violence in this movie?

A: Well, the movie is what it is. I don´t have a problem with it. It´s just a world of make-believe. I think that this movie´s got different sides to it; there´s a shoot-´em-up side to it, there´s a relationship side to it, there´s a child-who´s-headed-down-the-wrong-road side to it. But most of all, it´s just the funky, groovy, weird world of the whole Elvis thing.

Q: The ensemble cast is fairly diverse.

A: I thought the fact that Kevin was going to play the bad guy was fun for an audience to look forward to. I think he´s very good at it. I had a great time working with Courteney; she was fabulous, and the guys were goofy and fun. Christian was sweet.

Q: How would you feel about Kate Hudson getting nominated for an Academy Award?

A: Look, from our point of view, we´re extremely proud parents. The Golden Globe Award was terrific, a lot of fun, but when I was seriously proud of her was when I went to see the screening of “Almost Famous.” It´s a spectacular performance. And, sure, it would be great if she got nominated for an Academy Award, she´s the same age as when her mom was nominated, and Goldie won. It would be a fun night for us if she were to win. We would have a blast.

Q: What about the spectacular moment of becoming a father-in-law recently, when Kate married Black Crowes lead singer Chris Robinson?

A: That was one of the most amazing moments in my life. I´m just in love with Chris; he´s spectacular. So I had nothing but great feelings going into that. But I wasn´t prepared. It´s indescribable. Kate was so beautiful and so totally together. I had these flashes in my head; I was looking at her, and I could just see her at 3 and 5 and 7 and 9, these moments that were my little Kate. And it suddenly hit me, I was a complete and total basket case. She said, “Pa, are you all right?” I said, “I´m not even close to all right, Kate.” She said, “You´ll be all right.” And it was great.

Q: With so many Hollywood marriages breaking up, to what do you attribute the success of your relationship?

A: Nothing. My relationship could be ended in a week, the same as theirs. I think there´s fate involved in people being in love, but I have no answers. All I know is that I left this morning and Goldie was happy, and so was I. As far as next week´s concerned, I don´t know anything.

Q: Your next project is a supporting role opposite Tom Cruise in “Vanilla Sky.”

A: I took the job without reading the script. Tom and I were talking about working together for 10 years, and Cameron Crowe is a great director. I thought I´d be thrilled to work with these guys, just to have fun. Whatever it is, I´ll do it.

Q: After 40 years and all the work you´ve done, why are you not a superstar?

A: I look at my life as a blessed one. This is my 40th year in it, with great people, great opportunities. It´s been a tremendous life, an unbelievable life. Acting is a blast to do. I do my best, but it´s my job. I did the job so well that I was able to make more money at it than I ever thought possible. But once I was able to not have to do the magazine covers, with the time that takes, and have the publicity agents and all that, I just stopped it. And has it hurt me? No, my life´s been brilliant. Maybe it has hurt me being a household name, as if there´s some value to that.

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