There is something about Mila Kunis that lobotomizes people. I know, because it happened to me.
Before interviews, I usually say a little prayer that I don’t fuck up and that whoever I’m talking to will act decent. When it came to interviewing Mila Kunis, I prayed to not be that British guy or Cosmo.
Let me set the scene for you: There Mila Kunis sits, in an old-timey bar in midtown Manhattan promoting her partnership with Jim Beam. And there I am, filling the first 20 seconds of air space upon meeting her with strong questions like “So” and “Yeah” and “How’s it going?” (Note: “So” and “Yeah” are not actually questions. I know this. Most of the time.)
Mila Kunis doesn’t do anything to shock you into a state where you’re only capable of muttering nonsense. She literally just sits there, basking in the same aura of that fun kinda gal you’d expect from her movies.
I tell myself that I’ve got this.
“Man, I’m glad they have cocktails here.” Nope. Wrong move. Abort! Abort!
“Are you nervous? Is this your first interview?” Mila Kunis asks with the concern of someone tending to a little kid who fell off her bike.
Part of me wants to tell her I’ve actually done a couple hundred interviews. But I say nothing.
“How drunk are you?” she says, still with the same concern, but now with a hint of your college roommate making sure you’ve thoroughly pregamed.
My mind races back: Well, in the waiting room, I had a cocktail off the preset menu, a Ghost in the Room, made up of Jacob’s Ghost White Whiskey, soda, and lime. I couldn’t have been drunk, though I wouldn’t know. Being someone who could easily pass through the Shire, lightweight is my default setting.
“No, actually, well, I just,” I say.
“Do you need to get more drunk?”
“What drink would you like?”
“Bourbon. Because this is a bourbon thing.” Smooth.
One of two publicists in the room with us hits the bar behind me, and he gets Kunis a glass of water and pours me something on the rocks.
“Well, I’m gonna start this off!” I say, the glass in hand like I’m a natural His Girl Friday.
“You’re gonna do great!” she says like she’s in my corner and I’m shuffling like Rocky.
“So the press release said you love bourbon. When did you and Jim Beam become serious?” She laughs. Nailed it.
“I used to go out with my girlfriends and we’d drink and do shots. Then you get to a point where you no longer want to do shots and actually start appreciating a spirit for what it is. I used to have a version of a glass of wine when I went out with my girlfriends, but you can’t always get a glass of wine at a pub. So, I started drinking bourbon. There’s something laidback about them and you can sustain a really good buzz on them.”
Kunis speaks without missing a beat. She leans back into her chair and crosses her arms, unnervingly comfortable in front of me, the wreck who’s swishing the ice cubes in my cup because I have no idea what to do with my hands.
"I’ve always been very lucky in my drinking excursions. They’ve always been very positive." —Mila Kunis
“When I think of bourbon, I think of writing a novel and waxing philosophical with old men. What do you think about?” I ask.
“Yeah, it’s just chill. But you can go out and still have it. It’s just a nice way to spend a night, where you can still remember what you did the morning after,” she says, her eyes narrowing like she knows I know how precious that last part is.
Normally, this is where the interview would begin to feel like a conversation. You’d throw your questions away and the ten allotted minutes would fly by as if you were chit-chatting with an acquaintance.
But my mind can’t formulate sentences. And unfortunately, the questions I scripted were purposely atypical (and, in retrospect, awful) because I thought, why not? So I read ‘em off:
“You leave a pub, it’s 3 a.m., and you’re at a diner. What do you order?”
“What’s your favorite breakfast?”
“Just any kind of eggs?”
“I love eggs. I love breakfast for dinner. Late at night, I never go for pancakes.”
Breathe. Awkward silence.
“What’s your favorite drinking game?”
“It used to be flip cup.”
“Were you good at it?”
“In my early 20s, yeah. It’s been awhile.”
Breathe. More awkward silence. Go.
“If you could get a drink with any movie character, who would it be?”
“James Bond. Because he seems so classy with his martini shaken, not stirred. We could have a conversation about being a spy.”
Breathe. Even more awkward silence. Come on, go!
“When I was in college, my favorite place to drunk cry was in my dorm room closet. Where’s the worst place you’ve ever drunk cried?”
“I gotta tell ya, I don’t think that’s ever happened to me. I’ve always been very lucky in my drinking excursions. They’ve always been very positive. I’ve always been conscious about not drinking in a bad mood. Drinking always just amplifies whatever mood you’re in.”
“Drinking your sorrows away just never seems to work,” she says.
“I feel you.” I look down at my half-empty glass of straight-up bourbon. The condensation around the glass moistening my fingertips makes me even more self-conscious.
It’s the fourth pause after the worst preface to a question ever and she’s still with me. I give her an incredulous look like, “Really? You’re still focused on what I’m going to say next?” Not once have her eyes wandered to publicist in the corner of the room pleading for this to be over.
“You play a character named Jupiter in Jupiter Ascending. Who’s your favorite Sailor Moon character?”
“Hmm, I don’t know. She has a cat, right?”
“Yeah, I think so!” I don’t even watch Sailor Moon. The question just sounded good in my head when I wrote it down on the train.
“Let’s go with the cat!”
“Alright! Channing Tatum’s got this magical elf look thing going in Jupiter Ascending.”
“I mean with the ears and the glitter—so if you could cast a spell, what would it be?”
“Mm, to be invisible.”
“But magical elf Channing Tatum—please print that.”
“I will.” I’m feeling like a masochist.
My questions run out, so I improvise and retreat into a safe zone:
“What’s your favorite drink?”
It takes a second to register that she doesn’t mean the antibiotics, but a cocktail of ginger, honey, whiskey, and lemon juice. I only know this because she clarifies it when I ask.
“What’s your idea of fun?”
“Anything that you don’t have to try too hard. As long as you can have fun. Laughter’s fun. Challenge is fun,” Kunis says, shrugging her shoulders.
In the corner of my eye, the other publicist adjusts herself in a plush chair, sitting like she’s in her living room. In a tone that says, “I’ve been here for three hours,” she chimes in with, “Last question.” Finally, mercy. Bless you.
“How’s your day been going?” Nope. Already asked that.
“It’s been great.”
“No. Sorry, I mean, any grand plans for the rest of the year?”
“Nope, just playing by ear.”
“Is that your philosophy?”
“Yeah, it’s ‘Life is what happens when you start making plans.’”
Both publicists stand up and motion for the door. Interview over, I get up, wipe my palms on my jeans, and shake Kunis’ hand. Her hand beckons with the sass of your kitschy great aunt as she tells me to stay and have a few more cocktails. Maybe, I say. I tell her to have a great rest of the day and she offers me the same.
I leave, with a goodie bag of Jim Beam bourbon in tow, thinking about her last response.
A Mila Kunis interview is what happens when you start thinking about your interview with Mila Kunis.
Written by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
Note: So apparently Mila Kunis might've mistaken my shell shock for infatuation, because this is what's printed in an Esquire interview by Matthew Kitchen, who followed directly after me:
ESQ: Not one guy has hit on you today?
MK: I might have been hit on by a woman recently, but I'm not 100-percent sure.
ESQ: What was her method?
MK: [Laughs.] Not making any eye contact, [...and snorts] and being really awkward. I'm being such an asshole right now.
Excuse me while I dig this hole for myself a little bit deeper.
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