Jennifer Hudson Had To Learn How To Tote “Heavy” Guns Ahead Of New Film ‘Breathe’

EGOT star Jennifer Hudson has played a multitude of roles, but none have compared to what viewers will witness in the forthcoming post-apocalyptic action film Breathe. Hudson, who plays a botanist named Maya, is a gun-toting, over-protective, but tough-loving, mother who will protect her family by any means.

The Stefon Bristol-directed movie not only stars Hudson, but also Common, who plays her scientist husband Darius. Quvenzhané Wallis embodies the role of their daughter Zora. The film also includes Raúl Castillo, Milla Jovovich, and Sam Worthington, who play intruders.

“I’m always trying new things and it’s my first action film,” Hudson told VIBE. “But I liked that it raised the bar and it’s a different type of vibe. I like to expand myself in that way. It was a challenge, but that’s what the film calls for because I had to defend my family. I feel like it was an interesting thing to experience and an odd situation to imagine being in.”

In the official trailer for Breathe, Maya can be seen guarding her husband’s invention with her life after he is presumed to be dead. Once the world experiences a deprivation of breathable oxygen that has wiped out most of the population, his invention is sought after by “visitors who are not who they claim to be.”

Ahead of the film’s premiere, the 42-year-old Chicago-native spoke with VIBE about her “extremely different” role and what she had to do to prepare. Additionally, she shared the significance of the film, in regards to it centering around a Black family.

VIBE: For your role as Maya, you did a whole lot of shooting. I’m dying to know, did you already know how to shoot a gun or did you have to learn?

Jennifer Hudson: You know what, I still don’t know how. I had to learn about them. I didn’t realize there were that many different kinds or even how heavy they were. So it was more informative than anything. And then how to handle them — obviously on sets and things like that — was intriguing alone, and different. But it was so necessary for the film and the character.

There’s a line in the film that stood out to me. In the beginning, Darius [Common] is heading out and Zora [Wallis] tells him “I love you Black man” and in return he says, “I love you Black woman.” Can you speak to the significance of that line for this film in particular?

I love that line.

I think, one, it’s a beautiful thing to see a Black cast speaking to each other in that way and two, I think it’s within the characters. Darius’ character was heavy into [Black] history books and I think that was his way of instilling it within his child. It’s just showing their relationship; a beautiful relationship between the Black father and his daughter. I feel like it gave the sentiment of what their family represented.

YouTube/CapstonePictures ‘Breathe’ screenshot

Going off of that, the mother-daughter dynamic on camera is a very fiery one, but also filled with tough love.


How did you two build up your chemistry to be so believable on screen?

Maybe it’s a Virgo thing in a way. She’s just very aware of who she is and I’m aware of who I am. I think the age dynamic played into it because we used real reactions. We kind of gathered a mother-sisterly bond outside of shooting. She would call me ‘Ma’ and we just made it a point to keep that same type of energy and bring it to the screen. Her mother was also there and we would all hang out together, so we built a close rapport. All of us did on the set of Breathe. It was a tough film to do, and so it kind of brought us all closer. We were able to use a lot of things off-screen, on the screen.

Quvenzhané Wallis and Jennifer Hudson

YouTube/CapstonePictures ‘Breathe’ screenshot

What was the best moment filming with the cast?

Girl, on this film, it was so many. I don’t even know where to start because it’s like one, we had to use our imagination and a lot of times we got really tired. And when I tell you it was hot as hell out there — the wardrobe and the costumes that we had on — we had to have humor about it. A lot of times I’m like, ‘Lord, they got me out here crawling in the dirt.’ We had to make fun of things.

My character gets beat in the leg and during the heavy fight scenes where I’m supposed to defend the family, I would find rocks to put inside of my shoe to help me limp and to make it more real and raw. I actually ended up keeping it as a keepsake. I keep a keepsake from every project that I have. And so it’s a little rock that I would use in the scenes that I still keep to this day. That’s one of my many keepsakes from Breathe.

What is the biggest takeaway that you want the audience to get from this film?

Love and family. No matter what you’re going through or facing, that can pull you through it. When push come to shove, honey, family is family and we have to fight to survive and make it through. You know what I mean? It’s a sci-fi film and it’s very informative, it expands your imagination. I think it’s something that we don’t see often, especially with Black families. Common’s character is a scientist. I’m a botanist. Our daughter seemed like she may be the next botanist or scientist. So to see ourselves in that light, in film, I would love to see more of that.

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Get ready to grab your popcorn! Breathe hits theaters and will be available digitally April 26.

Check out the trailer above.