In the Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, real life good-girl Jennifer Hudson plays heroin-addicted neglectful mother, Gloria, who leaves two young boys Mister (Skylan Brooks) and Pete (Ethan Dizon) to fend for themselves in a rough, Brooklyn housing project one summer. The film, out this weekend, marks the third time Hudson has linked up creatively with her friend and executive producer, Alicia Keys. (Fellow American Idol star Jordin Sparks also has small part in the movie). Hudson recently spoke with Rolling Stone about learning the difference between “uppers” and “downers,” Jennifer-izing her next album, her inability to twerk, Drake, and more.
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Was there an aspect of the Mister and Pete script that really surprised you?
It introduced me to a whole other world. I didn’t even know there was a difference between uppers and downers in drugs. I thought all drugs were the same. So it opened my eyes to this whole new area of life that I knew nothing about.
How did you connect to the part?
That was the toughest challenge for me, because I didn’t have much to draw from, in connecting to the role. Gloria being a mother of a son, and me being a mother of a son, but as far as adapting to diction, and the prostitution, and the tattoos, was very foreign to me. But I was able to go to the rehabilitation center and sit with different recovering addicts and hear their stories, and I found one to connect to with and I said, ‘I’m going to tell your story.’ And she shadowed me, or I shadowed her, through out the whole filming process, and she told me her story, how she became addicted, how it affected her, how it changed her life for the worse, and how she came out of it. Everything you can imagine she shared.
Can you and Alicia Keys communicate telepathically at this point?
Kinda sorta. We relate in a lot of ways, and we stay in touch out of work. But we’re getting to that phase, I guess you could say.
You have a new studio album on the way in 2014. Do you have a title for that right now?
Yeah, but I don’t think I can say at the moment. I do know that I want to Jennifer-ize this album, meaning I want you to get a sense of who I am as a person, not just as a celebrity, or a brand, or a public figure that’s what I want this music to reflect.
How will that come through?
It’s just a different kind of energy. Every session we did in the recording process, felt like a party, and it felt like my kind of energy. Before it was about strictly singing. But this time around it’s been far lighter, and I’ve been in the writing process, and the creative process, where as before I wasn’t so much involved.
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What directions did you give the team?
Well one, I don’t want anyone writing for me, unless they’ve gotten a chance to know me, and a sense of who I am as a person. And that’s why I’ve written I don’t know how many of the tracks on this album. Where as before it I only wrote maybe one song. And I’ve been directing my own vocals, and having my voice from my own perspective.
What was it like working with Pharrell?
It was amazing, he’s done at least like four tracks for the album and we’re still going. I also love working with Timberland. I’m a musician, and not just a vocalist, and they allow me to be creative. Like one of my last sessions with Pharrell he was like, “Wow, ok, you take over.” Like, she knows exactly what she wants, and that will be the thing, rather than saying, “Jennifer sing this and sing it like this, and say it and say it like this.” He lets me put my spin and my perspective on it, as an artist and a musician.
Do you twerk?
You know what girl, one of the times that actually, at Pharrell’s birthday party, Miley happened to be there and she twerked for me, and I tried to do it. And nothing but my knee was moving. No I can not twerk. But I’m going to work on it.
I see you pairing well with Drake. Would you consider doing something with him?
I would actually love to work with Drake.