On December 7th, Hairspray fans will see Jennifer Hudson play the role of Motormouth Maybelle. She’ll also be the mother of Seaweed, who is portrayed by Ephraim Sykes. But in real life, there is only a four-year age difference between the two actors. Jennifer, 35, says that the revelation just recently hit her that she’ll be the maternal figure in the life of 31-year-old Ephraim. “I was just saying, ‘I must be getting old. My kids in these movies are getting older and older.’ Geez!” she says, with a laugh.
The actress admits that the lack of age difference is not only funny but also makes her role extra difficult. “It makes me have to stretch more,” she says. “In rehearsals Kenny [Leon] is always like, ‘You’re 20 years older than them.’ He has to remind me of that,” Jennifer tells Just Jared. “It’s like right but when we’re sitting and hanging out, you know, I’m amongst my peers. So it challenges me as an actress.”
Another challenge for the actress on set is running around on the lot, performing intense dance routines, and belting out song lyrics. “That’s been a challenge too just the dancing and the singing and just catching the breaths in the space where you have this much space to catch it because you’ve got to get to the next word,” she says. “Where do I breath? Where do you breath? There’s no space!,” she jokes.
When asked whether performing on American Idol has prepared her for live TV, Jennifer immediately replied, “Yes! I see so much of my past in a lot of this from being on a reality show and singing. And I always say when I feel nervous ‘If I can get through Idol, I can get through anything!’” she reveals.
Be sure to catch Hairspray Live!, which airs on Wednesday, December 7 at 8PM ET/PT on NBC.
If you missed it, Ephraim discussed how his Broadway show Hamilton changed his life!
– Reporting by Nicole Pajer