Mila Kunis: 'Extract' star reinventing herself after 'That '70s Show'
Mila Kunis (Miramax)
But she's never played "the bad girl."
"You get to lose all your inhibitions and get away with things you'd never get away with in real life when you play 'the bad girl,'." she says with a giggle.
She's talking about her role in the new Mike Judge comedy Extract, which opens Friday. Her character, Cindy, is a thief who doesn't set events in motion but amplifies them in this farce about a hapless flavor extract bottler (Jason Bateman) trying to extract himself from predicaments caused by his idiot employees, friend, wife and neighbor.
"Cindy is a kleptomaniac and a pathological liar, but I hope that deep down, she knows better," Kunis says. Kunis has been in the pop-culture spotlight so long that it's shocking to remember that the word "girl" can still apply. She turned 26 in August. It helps to remember this bit of Mila lore: She was cast on That '70s Show when she was just a babe of 14, and grew up and learned to act on the series. But the Ukrainian-born brunette didn't really blossom until Judd Apatow Inc. cast her as Rachel, the too sympathetic, too sexy shoulder for Jason Segel to cry on when he was Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
"Who could have predicted that she would throw off the entire premise of the movie?" Maxim magazine wondered. "Mila's combination of exotic beauty and girl-next-door charm would make any sane man forget his ex in three seconds flat."
Kunis has cachet that transcends her exotic looks. As if scoring in an Apatow hit, doing voices on TV's Family Guy and taking on a role in a Mike Judge comedy weren't enough to make a fanboy's dream, there's her passion for the online game World of Warcraft.
"A lot of women in this industry play World of Warcraft, IN SECRET. I made the call some while back to talk about it, and ever since then I have not been able to NOT talk about it."
It's not just fanboys and "lad mags" like Maxim that have taken notice. Filmmakers have given her plum roles in two big films in the offing. She's co-starring in a Denzel Washington thriller, The Book of Eli. She is Natalie Portman's foil in the Darren Aronofsky ballet drama Black Swan, and for that, she is suffering for her art.
"Ballet is this full-body workout, and in the movies it is one dance form that you cannot fake. You can't fake the jump, the pirouette, a fouette. You'll look awful. I've been walking and sitting one way for 26 years, and I'm relearning that for this movie. So you start off from scratch and IT HURTS."
She professes to have never worried about being pigeon-holed when That '70s Show ended, condemned to a life of sitcoms or playing bit parts in film comedies. Having started acting at 9, gotten her big break at 14, she has a veteran's perspective on the "Hollywood career."
"You can't play this industry like chess, because you'll lose," she says, with "no ego" about starting over, because "being young, I figured I had time to go out and prove myself all over again."
Roger Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5369.