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Kate Hudson plays the lead in the heart-warming movie ‘A Little Bit of Heaven’ and alongside the movie’s production team, she believes many people will relate to her character Marley’s struggle with her mother and father. Marley’s parents, Beverly (Kathy Bates) and Jack (Treat Williams) rush to her side when they find out she has cancer, but the overbearing mother and estranged absentee father don’t make for easy company.
“Beverly is an emotional freak and a bit of a drama queen at the beginning,” said Bates of her character, who we first meet at a dinner with her daughter and ex-husband. “It’s funny how we all push each other’s buttons, especially when there’s unresolved stuff,” said Williams of the not-so-idyllic family reunion.
“Kathy has this great capacity to make things simultaneously very funny and very real. Marley is caught in this crossfire of hatred and it was fun to enjoy Kathy’s performance and be in the scene at the same time,” recalled Williams, who worked with Bates previously in ‘The Late Shift’, and was also directed by her in “Everwood.”
“Beverly is always trying to get involved in things, and Marley has spent her life trying to get away from her mother,” Hudson said. “She comes barreling back into my life, and it’s the one relationship that I have to really forgive myself for, for making it difficult on my mother throughout our life together.
She’s the one person that’s always there, so you fight them so hard because you know they’re not going anywhere. Then to tell them that you might be going is not the easiest thing in the world to do. That was an amazing thing to play, especially with Kathy who is such an incredible actress.”
“In my mind Beverly has always wanted to be more like a buddy and a friend, and in the course of this story she has to sink into the role of being a mom,” said director Nicole Kassell, who first met with Bates in her hometown of Memphis, Tenn.
The actress was doing some work for the Methodist Health Care Foundation and over lunch they discussed relationships, their mothers and families. “She goes from being somebody who needs all the attention to realizing it’s time to give someone else the attention. She has to grow up and it’s really profound and beautiful.”
“When I read it I was somewhat touched that Jack really doesn’t know how to find his way back to a relationship with Marley,” said Williams, who as Marley’s detached father can only offer the best medical care money can buy. “He doesn’t have the tools to understand women very well. Jack is just trying to control everything and he doesn’t have any room for being vulnerable or listening to her, who she is, listening to her heart.”
“Treat was just such a perfect Jack because you see him struggling with it, he didn’t have it in him to come to terms with his mistakes, and when he does it’s so genuine and sweet,” Hudson said.
There is a key moment between Marley and her father, “they’re at a meal and he’s just trying to do the superficial thing that he’s always done with her, and she can’t do it anymore, there’s no time for chit chat,” continues Kassell, who discovered in early conversations with the actor that his own relationship with his father was difficult. “Marley calls him on it, he rises to the occasion, and it’s very moving.”
“Marley has had Beverly for a mother, someone who sort of sucks all of the air out of the room,” said Bates. She says she laughed more than she cried while reading the script. ”I think it’s been a very emotional experience for all of us for different reasons. Nicky is very quiet but quiet waters do run deep and I think she has a real fundamental understanding of how she wants to tell the story, and she is very wise about the human condition.”
Image Courtesy of A Little Bit of Heaven