While it seems like Jennifer Hudson was born for the role of the Broadway diva she plays in the new season of Smash, she admits it was no easy task.
"It was a lot of fun but also a lot Of work," the Oscar winner told me last night at the Julie Nester gallery in Park City, Utah, where she was celebrating the Sundance Film Festival premiere of her new Alicia Keys-produced drama, The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete. "You're singing, you're acting, you're in the studio recording, you're learning dance steps and then it was like—oh, my God!—they'll change things right there on the set…It was a challenge."
And so was playing a drug addict in The Inevitable Defeat. It's a J.Hud we have never seen before. In one scene, she's shooting heroin while wearing nothing but a bra and underwear.
Hudson met with real-life addicts to prepare for the role, even hiring one young woman as an on-set consultant.
"If you're going to go for it, you go for it," she said. "It was so interesting because I was completely introduced to a world I didn't know. And I was literally in the process of shooting Smash. I was this glamorous character with all the hair and all the makeup and gowns, and then the next day, I was in tattoos and crazy hair and in this complete rawness."
Director George Tillman Jr. was thoroughly impressed.
"She came on set with the tattoos and the rocker hair and I thought, 'She's really dedicated," Tillman said. "She really went for it. It was about the movie. She said, 'I don't care what people think. I want to play this right.' She was fearless."
Hudson hopes the film will open even more doors for her. "What I love most about this project is it has allowed me to step outside the box," she said. "This industry will put you in a box. 'Jennifer Hudson, sing! Do a musical!' It's like, no! There's so much more I want to do and there's so much more I feel like I could do.
"But it's not that often you get those opportunities," she said. "So that's why when this came along I was like, 'I'm in. Even though I'm terrified, I'm all in.'"
Also at the party, sponsored by Hennessy V.S., Reebok and BlackBerry, were Keys, Skylan Brooks (he plays Hudson's son in the movie), Mekhi Phifer and Gbenga Akinnagbe.