I blew it. I am perfectly willing to admit that I missed a golden opportunity when I recently sat down with Mila Kunis to talk about her work in “Oz The Great And Powerful,” but I didn’t realize it until after the fact.
Honestly, I thought my interview went pretty well in the room, until I saw her holding that shaky English kid’s hand. The thing is, she has always come across as completely unimpressed by press and interviews and the whole dog-and-pony show that comes with filmmaking. I met her originally on the Hawaiian set for “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” and she could not have been less formal about the entire thing. She wasn’t even working that night. She just came to the set from where she’d been swimming all day, and she hadn’t taken the time to go get made up or to try to play it up as “Mila Kunis, Movie Star.” She was charming precisely because she didn’t seem to be trying to impress anyone.
When we spoke for different films over the years at junkets and press days, I always enjoyed seeing how close she was with her parents, who were a frequent presence, and how she frequently would poke fun at the process even as she took part in it. I’m honestly not surprised by that interview that went viral this week. It looks like business as usual for her, and I certainly thought she was both personable and on-message when we spoke.
Where I blew it, though, was in forgetting to ask her about her upcoming role in “Jupiter Ascending,” the new action movie she’s starring in for the Wachowskis. When I did the Q&A with them at Fantastic Fest for “Cloud Atlas” last year, we ended up going to the Highball afterwards. During that conversation, they told me a long story about the audition process and how emotional it was for them when they finally got to tell her and Channing Tatum that they’d been cast in the leads. I would have loved to have asked her to share her side of the story, and that isn’t me fishing for story information about the film. I’m just more intrigued about how excited she’s still capable of getting about a new role.
What really struck me about the story is that it really mattered to Kunis, and not because of what it means in terms of career, but because she really wants to work with the best collaborators she can find. The entire cast of “That ’70s Show” ended up in a pretty remarkable position at the end of that show’s run because of how much money they’d made. They were all still very young, but they never had to work again if they didn’t want to. As a result, I feel like all of them have been able to pick and choose in a way that young actors don’t always get to pick and choose. They are working from a position of strength, and it means they get to make interesting choices. I think the career she’s having is the career she wants, and that makes it more exciting to see what choices she’s making from film to film.
I’m sort of amazed at how divisive “Oz” is turning out to be. I think the film has genuine charm and heart, and I think all three witches ended up doing very interesting work. Of the three of them, Theodora is the one who has the greatest journey in the film, and we talked about that a bit. It also required the most drastic physical transformation that Kunis has ever undergone on film, and we talked about how that helped her get to the place she needed to be in the film’s later sequences.
“Oz The Great and Powerful” is in theaters everywhere this Friday.