When Mila Kunis was on “That 70’s Show”, I never thought she’d make the transition to movie star. But over the past few years, that’s exactly what she’s done with starring roles in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Max Payne”, “The Book of Eli”, and writer-director Mike Judge’s new film “Extract”. In “Extract”, Mila plays the femme fatale role, and she’s great.
Anyway, I recently participated in a roundtable interview with Mila and she talked about her career, making “Extract”, “Family Guy”, “Black Swan”, Comic-Con, “Date Night”, college, and a lot more. It’s a great interview so take a look. And remember, “Extract” opens this weekend and you all need to go see it!
As usual, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio of the roundtable interview by clicking here. Finally, for a taste of the awesomeness that is “Extract”, click here to watch some clips.
Question: You were in the sequel to ‘American Psycho’.
Kunis: Oh my God, you’re the third person with that question today. Do we have to?
People look at you and see a real bad person there, right?
Kunis: It’s two movies in the seventeen year long career. It’s not that bad.
I think Jackie –
Kunis: She never stole. She was just slightly self-obsessed.
Ringo used to say, ‘It’s just my face -‘
Kunis: Are you trying to say that I can be a pathological liar who’s also a kleptomaniac?
Someone might think so. They cast you. I didn’t.
Kunis: Possibly? You know what, I don’t know. I thought the script was really funny. I thought the character was really funny. It’s very possible that I could look like a kleptomaniac and a pathological liar and that’s why I keep getting hired.
Did you do any research?
Kunis: Stealing things?
Winona Ryder style.
Kunis: I knew that’s where you were going to go with this one. I did not do any research. Nope, I didn’t feel like I needed to go method for this one because I’d be in jail and then Nancy Ryder would kill me.
Do you think this is where Jackie could’ve ended up if she didn’t have a good family?
Kunis: Jackie didn’t have a good family. Did you ever watch the show? Her mom was in Cancun. Her dad was in jail.
They had money.
Kunis: That does not constitute a good family, having money. If Jackie was poor – here’s the difference; I’m not quite sure that Jackie would’ve ever been smart enough to get away. I think she would’ve been caught much earlier in her life. I think that Cindy has the tendency to be a couple of steps ahead and so she’s able to kind of keep going with this process of manipulating people. I think that Jackie – I don’t know, it’s hard to say – was every the sharpest tool in the shed.
Because the offer came from Mike Judge that you said yes, or was there something specific about the role?
Kunis: Mike Judge, yes. It was Mike Judge yes.
It’s rare for actors on a long running successful TV show to make the jump to film successfully. Can you talk about how that’s been for you and what’s it’s like?
Kunis: Well, thank you. I don’t know how it’s happened. I will tell you that I did not think it was going to happen. I wanted to quit the industry when I was eighteen and finish ’70’s’, finish my contract on the show and go to college because I was pretty convinced that after ’70’s and after being on a show for eight years that I would be very much pigeonholed for something specific that I didn’t want to be a part of anymore. So my attempt at college failed miserably and I dropped out and decided that this is what I wanted to do for a living. When I made that decision I had to convince myself to disassociate myself from the industry, if that makes any sense, to be who I am and to have this just be what I do and that the paths could never cross. If they did then I think that given after ’70’s it was like a good year of just pure rejection. So if I didn’t disassociate myself from what I did I would probably go through depression, I would assume, or go through some hard times. But I didn’t and I always had some other things that were more important to me. I had family that was more important. I had my life that was more important. I had hobbies that were more important and this was just my job. Then I think once I got in that mindset and I was okay with that I was like, ‘It’s fine. If it happens it happens and if it doesn’t it this is not the end all be all.’ I met with Judd Apatow and ‘Sarah Marshall’ came about and that was great. I think that’s what kind of started to slowly change everything. But I think that most importantly it was that mindset that this is what I do and this is not who I am.
What did you take in college and why did you fail miserably?
Kunis: That was the problem. I didn’t know what…I went to college because I felt like I was supposed to. I graduated from public high school and I did all the things that I was supposed to do –
Which college did you go to?
Kunis: I took two classes at UCLA and then I transferred to Loyola Marymount and then that became my college and I’m pretty damn sure that I never went to class at Loyola. I’m trying to think back eight years.
That might be why you failed out.
Kunis: I didn’t fail out. I dropped out. I did not fail. I was actually a pretty good student. My problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted to study. What was I going to go in? Undecided? I took a class on Zionist theory. I took classes that interested me, that weren’t necessarily for a specific degree. Then I realized and spoke to my parents and I said, ‘I do love what I do and I want to pursue it.’ They were like, ‘Oh, why don’t you just drop out.’
Do you remember learning English when you came to the states as a child?
Kunis: No. I really don’t, I have to tell you. I came in the second grade. I would say that by third grade I spoke pretty fluent English. I don’t remember much of second grade. I’ve said this before. I was not a traumatized kid, by any means with the way that this might come out, but I pretty much blocked out all of second grade in the states. I’m guessing it was because it was hard and my parents said that I came home crying every night but I don’t remember it. I think it was rough because I just didn’t know where I was and I didn’t get the culture. I didn’t get the people. I’ll be honest, I never…I met an African American person for the first time in my life when I was seven. I didn’t know they existed. I didn’t know there were people of a different color. I didn’t know people with red hair existed. It wasn’t even…it wasn’t because I wasn’t taught that in school but I think it just wasn’t where I grew up. So much of it was, forget the language barrier, just a culture shock. I think adapting to the culture was much harder than actually learning English.
What hobbies do you pursue that are much more important than what your acting?
Kunis: Life. Like everything.
That’s a hobby?
Kunis: I think so, living life. I do view it as that. I enjoy living life and I enjoy going to different restaurants and eating my way through a country and going to different museums and learning about different cultures. That to me is so much more fulfilling.
Question: You went to Comic-Con for two films this year.
Did you walk the convention floor, buy anything, what was it like?
Kunis: I did walk the convention floor and I sent my brother off to buy me stuff. Yeah, ComiCon was really fun this year. I also had ‘Family Guy’ there. So there was ‘Extract’, ‘Book of Eli’ and ‘Family Guy’.
I forgot you were promoting ‘Family Guy’ there.
Kunis: How dare you forget. Please, it’s fine. It was fun. I went on the floor differently than I’m used to going on the floor. I had to go on the floor with a lot of extra help which was not that much fun, I’m going to tell you right now. Going on the floor by yourself, super fun. You get to walk around and you get to see the booths, what everyone is promoting, what the new toys are, everybody had a special Comic-Con series toy. That did not happen this year. I didn’t have enough time. So I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, you bought it. Show and tell.’ So, ‘Extract’ booth at Comic-Con had Mila look-alikes and I’d heard about this from Ben Lyons from E!. He interviewed me and said, ‘Did you know there were Mila Kunis look-alikes?’ I said, ‘There are?’ He said yeah and I wanted to go meet them. So that’s when I went downstairs. I went down with my brother who was totally hitting on one of the Mila Kunis look-alikes which is really, really weird. She was the short one. There was like a giant Mila Kunis look-alike, like six feet tall. There was a shorter one. They didn’t really look like me but they did because they had dark hair and one was adorable and super cut and my brother was like, ‘That’s the hot one.’ I was like, ‘You’re gross.’ He went for it. But anyway, yesterday Ben gave me this and that’s him with the Mila Kunis look-alikes and that’s when I went down to the floor. I can’t even go out there. I feel like it’s a show and tell.
I heard a lot of actors will put on a mask and go to the floor to be incognito.
Kunis: It’s true. I didn’t have time. That was the problem. I’ve done that and that’s the best way to go through Comic-Con because you can really go through Comic-Con and there were some limited edition toys that I wanted to buy, the action figures –
You have to say which ones these were.
Kunis: There was one for ‘Halo’ and it was the Red versus Blue, the Team one. I never got around to that booth which is a problem.
Can you talk about ‘The Book of Eli’ and what that’s about?
Kunis: ‘Book of Eli’ is Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman and The Hughes Brothers directed it. It’s a post apocalyptic thriller. Maybe not so much thriller. Just post apocalyptic. Denzel Washington’s character has a book and he’s called The Walker in the film and he has to get the book to a specific location. That’s his purpose in life, to get this book to this specific location. Throughout this journey he meets my character and Gary Oldman’s character who plays my stepfather. He’s not the nicest man, to say the least. My character decides to runaway with Denzel Washington’s character she’s inspired by him, not at all sexually, not in a romantic sort of way but inspired in what he believes in and inspired by him and she’d never really met a man in this world that was like him. So then she goes on this journey with him.
And how was the Comic-Con experience with that movie?
Kunis: Well, I’ll tell you, all I’ll say is that neither Gary Oldman or Denzel Washington had been to Comic-Con and that was their first experience. So experiencing Comic-Con with these two major movie stars was kind of awesome.
Gary Oldman must’ been quite the trip.
Kunis: He was great. Gary and I were just kind of teaming up and doing press together because he just makes me laugh all the time and he’s much funnier than people ever know. People don’t understand how funny, truly funny Gary Oldman is. He just makes me giggle all day long and so I had a great time at Comic-Con with him. We were walking to the hotel from the convention center and we walked past Wonder Woman and all these people and he was like, ‘Who’s that? Who’s that?’ He just so wanted to know everything about who all these people were. It was kind of great.
The internet is abuzz with the ‘Black Swan’ project. Can you talk about doing that?
Kunis: Yeah. I can talk about it. Yes, it is a go. I’m starting production in November and for the past, we started a month ago with the ballet training and I have two more months of training before choreography begins and we start actual production in New York City.
And it’s you and Natalie Portman?
There’s been a lot in the last two weeks about you two having some interesting scenes together.
Kunis: Yes. I’ve heard about this from everybody. I mean, something got out. Here’s what I don’t fully understand and then I’ll answer this question. The script is so under lock and key that I can’t imagine anyone really truly ever getting a hold of it.
So you’re denying the story that’s online?
Kunis: I can’t really deny or confirm because I’m not aloud to talk about the script but all I’m going to say is that I can’t imagine anyone getting their hands on this project. Does that make sense?
Totally. Is there a reason for the high level of secrecy with this project?
Kunis: It’s a psychological thriller and so there is a lot of twists and turns, I guess you could say, and I think that Darren Aronofsky who’s directing it is a very…he just did the last rewrite on it and he’s very private about this one rewrite. So I don’t know how anyone could’ve ever gotten it. I have a copy but mine is so watermarked that you would know it came from me. Natalie has a copy and I’m guessing that there are, let’s say, two more out there.
So you just got a recent rewrite?
Kunis: I just got a recent rewrite last weekend.
Is the rewrite you just got a lot different than, say, a previous version or is it just tweaks?
Kunis: I can’t say. I mean, I can’t. I will get in trouble. I would love to tell you and the day that I’m able to tell you the story I will be so happy to but I can’t. I can’t even say.
How long is the filming process?
Kunis: So we’re doing ballet training for a couple of months and then we start shooting in November. November, December, January. So three months.
Have you had any kind of dance training before?
Kunis: Well, I’m off doing it. Am I freaked out, absolutely. Yeah, it’s not what you think it’s going to be. It’s seven days a week on average at about four hours a day and you contort your body. It’s one of those things where nothing that you do in ballet is natural. Not a single movement. Not your body posture. Not your stance. My bones are all cracked. I’ve torn ligaments. If you look at your hips, your hips are placed like this. My hips are now turned around like this. You just have to do it like that because everything is tucked. Look at that muscle. That never existed. I sit like this. I normally slouch. Now I’m forced to sit with my shoulders tucked back. It’s so weird and so uncomfortable and unnatural and it hurts. Yes, it’s hard.
So you won’t be adopting that for life?
Kunis: Oh, no. I mean, it is an amazing workout. As far as a full body workout goes it’s insane and very intense, but boy, do I have more respect for ballerinas than I’ve ever had in my life.
So maybe ‘Dancing with the Stars’ next season?
Kunis: Oh, sure. Sign me up because I don’t have anything to do right now. I’m going to go ‘Dancing with the Stars’.
Could you and Mike Judge relate at all because when we listen to you we’re also listening to famous voices? Did you two talk about that at all?
Kunis: No. We didn’t really talk about it.
Did you talk about ‘King of the Hill’ and ‘Family Guy’?
Kunis: Only in like a very professional way with a sense of like, ‘How is production going?’ But not anything like, ‘I went through this. Can you relate to that?’
Do you still do ‘Robot Chicken’?
Kunis: Yeah. One of my best friends is the creator of ‘Robot Chicken’. To me that show is not work if that makes sense at all. To see ‘Robot Chicken’ come together, you have to understand that I’ve known about this show since I was sixteen. It’s gone through so many forms and at one point Seth Green had it on the internet and at one point it was this and that and I’ve just seen it completely grow into something so amazing and I could not be more proud of him. But when the show ended up taking off I made a bet with him that if it ever got on the air I wanted to be on it whether it’s just a credit.
He told me about the credits thing and now I always freeze it to see what you and maybe Sarah Michelle Gellar –
Kunis: See, that was one of the bets. Before the show even got on ‘Adult Swim’, this was in the beginning stages, the bet was that if the show ever got on the air that we wanted a credit on every single episode. Now we do.
Do you have any plot lines from ‘Family Guy’ that you can tease?
Kunis: We’re a year ahead of you so hold on. This is a little off for me. What you’re about to see we wrapped a year ago. Okay, so there is an abortion episode that’s coming out on DVD that I think is absolutely brilliant which was never allowed to air on network television. It is absolutely hysterical and one of my favorite episodes. That’s coming out on DVD and it’s all about Lois maybe getting an abortion, maybe not. Then there’s another episode where Meg goes to jail and comes back a very different person and that’s a very funny episode.
How is she different?
Kunis: Like, funny different. Not quite man different but towards that direction different. There are a couple of really great things.
It must be nice to always kind of have this job that’s there.
Kunis: It’s like a safety net, like a huge safety net, ‘Family Guy’. I mean, I can go on and on. ‘Family Guy’ to me is not a job. It’s a luxury that I have in my life and I hope that it goes on for a very long time.
You have another film called ‘Date Night’. Can you talk about that?
Kunis: Sure. ‘Date Night’ is a movie about Tina Fey and Steve Carrell and they go on a date in Manhattan and then hilarity ensues when they start getting chased by the mob. In the process of being chased by the mob they encounter funny characters. It’s all cameos. So James Franco and I play husband and wife. I’m a stripper and he’s my husband/pimp. They encounter us at home, so like after I finish stripping for the day. I come home and Tina Fey and Steve Carrell have broken into our house.
Tina Fey and Steve Carrell are like the one two punch right now.
Kunis: I cannot explain to you how many times I laughed in those two days that I was there. I don’t ever remember laughing more. I screwed up so many takes because I could not stop laughing. Steve Carrell, looking at him just makes me laugh. I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of Steve Carrell and Tina Fey for years. So James and I are in this one scene, it’s just James and I and Steve Carrell for two and a half days and we were both just like little kids in a candy store. We were mesmerized by these two actors because truly they are so brilliant to watch because every take is different. They’re very much into improv. So you have to keep up. So I’ll tell you it’s all improv and Shawn Levy directed it and he would do two takes from what’s on paper and then go off and do whatever you want to do. I was like, ‘Oh, shit. Okay. I have to be funny. I have to be funny.’ I was so nervous and we did it off paper and I made Steve Carrell break and when I made him break I was like, ‘I’m done. I’m so done. I never need to do anything ever again in my entire life.’ When Tina Fey was like, ‘That was really funny.’ I was like, ‘It was? It was? OK.’ I felt so relieved. It was insane.
You’re in a career sweet spot right now. What do you think got you there, and it sounds like comedy is where your heart is even though you’re getting these other opportunities right now?
Kunis: Comedy is very hard and I don’t know if it’s where my heart necessarily is but doing comedy is one of those things where if something is funny right now does not necessarily mean it’s going to sustain itself for a year in production and be funny when the movie comes out and that to me is the hardest thing. I love playing different characters and I love doing fun things and I love to entertain people, whether that be in a comedy or a drama. If I get you to laugh or I get you to cry I’m super stoked, as morbid as that might sound. I don’t know how I got very lucky but I did and I think that after ’70’s’ it was really ‘Sarah Marshall’ is what did it. It was ‘Sarah Marshall’ that took a nice sweet turn for me.
Are you already thinking about next year and looking at other scripts?
Kunis: I don’t really have time because ‘Book of Eli’ is coming out in January and so ‘Black Swan’ and ‘Book of Eli’ are going to overlap so I can’t even…I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll have time. I would say up until March of next year I won’t have time.