Friends in the right places
As new romcom Friends With Benefits hits the big screen, Mila Kunis reveals if her relationship with Justin Timberlake is purely platonic
Given Mila Kunis's new film is a raunchy look at whether two friends can enjoy 'no strings sex', it comes as little surprise to find the actress is straight talking on the subject."I think it's really great in theory but falls short in execution," says the 28-year-old. "You can't sustain a friends with benefits relationship for a long time.
It's inevitable it will either go one way or the other."And by that she means revert to friendship or become an official relationship.A self-confessed tomboy, Kunis prefers to keep things simple and sees no problem in being friends with the opposite sex: "I have plenty of males who are my friends... without the benefits," she says."I don't come from the school of thinking the opposite sex cannot be friends. I make dirty jokes, I'm fine with guys farting, I don't really care, it's not a big deal."
Friends With Benefits is directed by Will Gluck, who revealed he wanted to make a film with the same degree of chemistry as those classic, banter-filled Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy movies.In Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake, he's found his modern-day charismatic pairing.Jamie (Kunis) is an executive recruiter who headhunts Dylan (Timberlake) and entices him to stay in New York. Hanging out as mates, they share plenty of laughs, a mutual scorn for the notion of true love and then one evening, decide to try an experiment: can they add sex into the equation without destroying their friendship?
Headlines have hinted Kunis and Timberlake have enjoyed their own 'benefits' off screen, a rumour perpetuated by their flirtatious appearance at the MTV Movie Awards in which they groped each other in front of a whooping crowd.Kunis is dismissive of the idea though."Nope, wasn't tempted," says the actress, shaking her head defiantly."If you're friends with someone, let's just leave it at that. There needs to be nothing more."Petite though she is, dressed today in a light blue strapless dress, Kunis exudes a feisty confidence.
She may look like an exotic doll with her long brown hair and large green eyes, but she's a girl who doesn't suffer fools gladly, as one reporter discovered recently when asking Timberlake snide questions about moving from music to movies."What kind of question is that? Why are you here?" Kunis spat in her native Russian, leaping to her co-star's defence. And it's just these kind of attributes that have seen her survive Hollywood for almost 20 years.As she says: "This industry can eat you alive."Born to a physics teacher and mechanical engineer in the Ukraine, the family, including her older brother Michael, moved to Los Angeles when Kunis was seven.She fell into acting by accident when her parents decided to enrol her in after-school lessons to help her learn English.
By the age of nine she was appearing in adverts and TV shows.Her tenacious spirit saw Kunis turn up at the over-18 auditions for Ashton Kutcher's TV comedy, That '70s Show, at the age of 14. She told them she'd be 18 on her birthday without going into exact details and played the role of Jackie Burkhart for the next eight years.Ironically, the stunning actress has also spent the last 12 years voicing the character of plain and pudgy Meg in adult animation Family Guy.
The leap to the big screen has been a steady and smooth one, starting out playing a young Angelina Jolie in the 1998 movie Gia and most recently starring in The Book Of Eli, a post-apocalyptic drama with Denzel Washington, as well as her role in psychological thriller Black Swan.She didn't actually audition for the role of sexually voracious ballerina Lily, as Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky spotted her potential in 2008's comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall."For one reason or another, he trusted me hugely. I didn't want to ask him, I just went with it," she laughs.
A self-confessed "computer nerd", who admitted having to go cold turkey because she'd become so obsessed with online game World Of Warcraft, it's only fitting that Aronofsky told her about landing the role via the internet."He literally gets on iChat and was like, 'Are you ready to do the movie?' I made him get on video chat to offer it to me in semi-person, so I could see his face saying it," says Kunis.The hours of intensive training and injuries were tough going, but it was all worth it when she won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actress at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.In keeping with her eclectic resume, she's just wrapped up the fantasy comedy Ted alongside Mark Wahlberg and is currently shooting Oz: The Great And Powerful, a prequel to the classic
The Wizard Of Oz, in which Kunis stars opposite James Franco.Of course, she's also excited to see how Friends With Benefits will fare at the box office, considering the fun she had making it."It's very rare you get to work with people whose company you genuinely enjoy," she says. "You end up working these long, 18-hour days and it's great when you look forward to waking up at four in the morning and going to work."Despite breaking up from her boyfriend of eight years, the former child star Macaulay Culkin, Kunis remains hopeful about her romantic future.Asked if she still believes in the 'happy ever after', she's thoughtful for a moment."I believe in a version of it. but I think you can have multiple happily ever afters," she offers, adding that these days, relationships come with a lot of baggage."I'm much more guarded now than I was when I was younger. And I'm much more protective of the things in my life."Then hinting at the sweet girl beneath the sass, she adds: "But I do believe in fairytales - and I believe in love."
Friends With Benefits is released in cinemas on Friday, September 9