Set to lift you straight out of you end-of-summer blues, hilarious rom-com Friends With Benefits is released on Friday and to celebrate we met up with the film’s leading lady, Mila Kunis, to chat about her on-screen chemistry with co-star Justin Timberlake, her off-screen sense of style and what lies ahead for the brunette beauty.
Jamie is an incredibly fun, self-deprecating, likeable character. Did you see yourself in Jamie when you first read the script?
Well the first script that was sent to me was a PG13 script that was very different but I’d just seen Easy A and thought it was brilliant, so I took a meeting with Will Gluck [director of Easy A and Friends With Benefits] and later that night Will, Justin and myself got together and signed onto the film knowing that we were going to completely change it and make the characters more modern and more relatable and make the film R rated. I was always a little timid about doing a comedy after Forgetting Sarah Marshall because I thought it was so special because it has such a specific voice and I wondered how I would ever follow it up. But it wasn't until Will Gluck, who I think is such a great director and has such a great comedic voice, that I thought I can do this movie and at least I can make a character that I would respect in a film and be able to be a part of from the ground up. Yeah, I think I infused a little bit of myself into her, at least in the sense of how I hope I would react in certain situations, not necessarily how I would because I don't know how I would in a lot of them, but how I would hope I would.
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The dialogue is very natural and fast-paced, did you find yourself working ad lib or bouncing off each other?
Yeah, a lot of it was. When we did the workshop it was all improvisation and as we were improvising, Will was writing it so the script was built off of improv already. Then when we went to shoot the movie, Will would just yell lines out at us and there were different buttons to different jokes. One that I can think of off the top of my head was the scene where he [Justin] gives me the painting and my feet are up on the bed and he's like: "Get your feet off the bed, they're dirty," and I went like this [wiggles her feet]. That was all improv and there were a lot of moments where we just ended up having fun because we knew the characters so well. It felt natural.
And how did you find shooting the bedroom scenes?
I think the beauty of this movie was that they were supposed to be funny. When we wrote the bedroom scenes we read them over and over again to make sure they were going to be funny. So once the physicality came into play it was secondary because it didn't have to be sexy or lovemaking, it had to be two best friends having these awkward conversations, which almost made it a little less awkward.
You moved from the intense drama of Black Swan to comedy in Friends with Benefits, was that an intentional move?
I think it's based on the time and how I feel at that moment; a character that I'm attracted to or a director or other actors that I want to work with. I only want to surround myself with people that I believe are better than me so that I can learn and grow. If a project has somebody that I selfishly can benefit from, then I'm signing up.
You've worn some amazing dresses, do you have a favourite?
Probably the McQueen dress from the SAG Awards or the Elie Saab dress from the Oscars.
And are those designers that you prefer for big awards ceremonies?
You know, I'm not a designer snob. I don't look at a dress and ask who designed it. Petra [Flannery, Milla’s stylist], who I've worked with for many years, always brings a beautiful assortment of dresses and we just try all of them on and go with the one that just feels right. But I love Elie Saab, I wore him at the Russian premiere.
But you don't have a general go-to designer day-to-day?
Day-to-day I'm in jeans and a T-shirt.
Do you have a favourite brand of jeans?
I have a lot of favourite brands of jeans. Paige is not the most fancy of brands but it's my go-to jean. Paige is great. Current Elliots and J Brands are great too.
And any key style tips for day-to-day?
Be comfortable. If you're comfortable in what your wearing, it comes across. I think that even if you put on the most beautiful gown but you're not comfortable in it, it's not going to fit you. It's going to feel like the gown is wearing you. If you're going to wear jeans, make sure they're comfy jeans and a comfortable shirt. That's my only tip.
How do you get red carpet ready?
It takes a long time! Hair and make-up, and that's it. There are no frills. Nothing crazy. But drink a lot of water, stay hydrated and try to get a lot of sleep the night before. If you don't put a little eye cream on…
You've started filming Disney's Oz: The Great and Powerful, can you reveal any details?
It's been crazy. I finished Ted, which is a Seth MacFarlane and Mark Wahlberg movie, the next day I flew to Detroit and started pre-production for Oz. Now I'm a little confused as to what country I'm in but I've started, stopped and am about to start shooting Oz again! The film is about how Oz became The Great and Powerful. It's really a story about a man embracing his faults. He's a very selfish man who has to learn how to be not so selfish.
And what was it that drew you to the part? Was it James Franco?
No, I met with Sam Raimi [the director] before James was attached. I mean, it's Sam Raimi, and it's the prequel to The Wizard of Oz! It's an amazing role, an incredible film and I've never done a PG13 film that I can show my kids one day.
You sound like you've got a lot on your plate but is there anything else in the pipeline?
That wasn't enough! You want more?! I'm booked until the end of December!
Friends With Benefits is released nationwide 9 September.
By Sarah Smith