Goldie Hawn recalls being called a 'dumb blonde' by a female reporter in the 1970s
Oscar-winning actress Goldie Hawn is holding nothing back.
In a new interview with Variety, the star, 77, opens up about some of the wildest things she's experienced as a leading lady in Hollywood — including being referred to as a "dumb blonde" by a female reporter at the height of the women's liberation movement in the '70s, regrets around not attending the Oscars ceremony in 1970 when she won for Cactus Flower, as well as her salty relationship with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein.
While reflecting on her early success on the 1960s comedy program Laugh-In — which led to a decades-long career in films like The Sugarland Express, Private Benjamin, The First Wives Clubs and more — Hawn noted how events like the Academy Awards have changed, and not exactly for the better.
“It used to be elegant,” she says of the Oscars. “I’m not old-fashioned, but sometimes jokes are off-color. And I’m missing reverence. Things have become politicized. I want to see people in awe. I want to see people believing again. I want to see people laughing more in a way that isn’t just at someone else’s expense.”
The same goes for the future of romantic comedies, she said, noting how "sad" it is that audiences have seemingly labeled them as "pedestrian and not interesting" when compared to modern cinema.
Of regrets, she's had a few — and said that one of her biggest is that she wasn't present at the 1970 Oscars where she was named Best Supporting Actress for her role in Cactus Flower.
“I never got dressed up. I never got to pick up the award,” she said. “I regret it. It’s something that I look back on now and think, ‘It would have been so great to be able to have done that.’”
Admittedly, she didn't even expect to win. “I forgot it was on television that night,” she said. “I woke up to a phone call at like 4 in the morning. And it was a man’s voice and he said, ‘Hey, congratulations, you got it.’ ‘I got what?’ ‘You got the Academy Award for best supporting actress.’”
Raquel Welch accepted the statuette on Hawn's behalf that night, citing that Hawn "couldn't be here because she's in London filming." Truth be told, Hawn had never watched footage of her win until just a few weeks ago, while traveling with this year's Oscar host, Jimmy Kimmel, to a mutual friend's party.
“[Jimmy] said, ‘Did you ever see the part where you’re being announced by Fred Astaire?’ And I said, ‘Fred Astaire?!’ He’s my idol," she said. "And I didn’t know he was the one that announced my name. I got emotional when I finally saw it.”
The 1970s were also the height of the women's liberation movement, when feminists worked to advance women's equality.
Hawn, who at this point time was leaning into archetypes that had historically been reserved for men — playing a football coach in Wildcats, enlisting in the Army in her Oscar-nominated role in Private Benjamin, among others — recalls being shamed for her "flighty persona" by a female reporter.
“She said to me, ‘Well, don’t you feel kind of irresponsible for being like a dumb blonde and, you know, playing dumb in a time when women are reaching out to become independent and liberated,’” she remembered saying. “And I looked at her and I said, ‘Oh, but I’m already liberated.’”
Hawn also shared that 15 years before Chicago won Best Picture in 2003, producer Harvey Weinstein had been developing a precursor version, starring Hawn as the murderess Velma Kelly and Madonna as Roxie Hart (roles that went to Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger, respectively, in the 2003 version).
Hawn said Weinstein was the one to pull the plug on the project despite having their deals in place.
“Harvey basically undermined me and Madonna," Hawn said. “I said, ‘Don’t f*** with me. Because I know just what you’re doing. We made a deal.'"
Much to her surprise, Weinstein paid Hawn what they had negotiated for her work, even though the project was canned. “You stand up to a bully, and sometimes you win," she said of the disgraced producer. "I said to him afterwards, ‘You know what the best part of you paying me is? Not the money. You restored my faith in dignity and ethics.’ Little did I know..."
Of course, Weinstein will likely serve the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of rape and accused by multiple women of sexual assault and abuse. "He's finally living his karma," said Hawn.
While Hawn said it's "good" that men like Weinstein and others are being punished for their past sex crimes, she hopes the world can remain "vigilant" when it comes to other areas.
“I think that it’s important to stand vigilant on people’s behavior and really understand when they’re out of line and be able to handle it,” she said. “But I’m concerned about these areas: Suddenly you don’t have a job. Suddenly you can’t date a woman within the business or you’re going to get fired. They’re canceling books — classic books that no one can read. I don’t like that. There’s mistrust everywhere. So not only is there cancel culture, but there are culture wars. Schools are being politicized. But for the greater good of our children? No one’s really looking at that."
“There’s a disruption now. Disruptions are good. But imbalance isn’t," she added. "I hope to get back to some level of sensibility and fairness. So ‘cancel culture.’ The word itself scares me more than anything. It’s rigid, concretized thinking, which is not good. It’s got double edges on it. And who has the right to cancel?”
For the sake of the future of comedy, Hawn hopes audiences will continue to evolve.
"The level of sensitivity is so high that comedians are afraid to tell certain jokes the way they used to," she said. "And it’s a bit of a quandary for comedians; there are things you can’t say and so on and so forth. I mean, it’s fine. There are certain areas that I agree with. But the level of sensitivity is unforgiving. That’s not a good feeling when you’re in a creative mode.”