Romantic comedy veterans Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl star in Killers - a new film in their home genre which features a neat twist on the boy-meets-girl formula: What if the boy the girl meets is an assassin?
Buzzine's Emmanuel Itier met Ashton and Katherine in Hollywood, CA for a chat about the downfalls of keeping secrets from your partner, the dangers of filming fight scenes and the glory of co-star Tom Selleck's facial hairstylings...
Emmanuel Itier: What was the initial appeal for each of you to do this project?
Ashton Kutcher: My character in the film is a guy who starts out in this extraordinary place, an extraordinary profession, and when he meets the right person, he decides he just wants a normal life. It’s a life that he doesn’t necessarily get to have. For me, I found that I was connected to that.
Also, when I read the script, I’d been looking for a movie like this - something that was a two-hander - a fun and entertaining action comedy. I thought I was going to find it in a buddy cop movie - two guys - and when I read this script, I realized this kind of movie hadn’t been made in a while. I felt like we could have a really good time doing it and make a really entertaining film.
Katherine Heigl: I’ve obviously been doing quite a few romantic comedies, and what I loved about this particular romantic comedy is that it had the added element of action, so it was a slightly different take on the formula. While I love the formula and will hopefully do romantic comedies until I’m too old to do them, this just had this energy and this thing that made it unique. I loved being the broad character to Ashton’s straight guy. It was really fun to not be the straight guy for a change. Ashton made it really fun and easy to do that. When I saw the movie, I was very entertained, and that’s hard to get when you’re in it because that takes you out of it. But with this movie, I just had such a good time watching it and thought that’s exactly what we were going for. I love it.
EI: Everyone has secrets in this movie. Do you both think that, in some circumstances it can be good to keep secrets in arelationship, or that you should never do that? What’s your opinion?
AK: I firmly believe that it’s a good idea to keep secrets. I think it depends on who the secret is benefiting. I think that, if at the end of the day, you’re the person that’s benefiting from the secret or you’re hiding something and you’re the one who has something at stake, then you should probably tell it. If the secret is benefiting the other person, then maybe you should keep it.
KH: That’s probably far more profound than anything I would’ve said. I, unfortunately, have a very difficult time keeping secrets, which is evident in any interview ever, so I don’t really have any. I don’t think my husband does, and I think it’s okay. I think everyone has a right to their own thoughts and their own feelings and their own private moments, if they want them. I think that, if he had a second wife in Spain, that would’ve probably be too big a secret to keep, but if he’s using Rogaine, that’s okay, he doesn’t have to tell me...
EI: Your characters are almost complete opposites. He’s looking to stay at home, live a normal life; she’s looking for that sophisticated guy. Do you have experience with opposites attracting, AKA how you know when you’ve met the right person?
AK: [Singing] “I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes…” I don’t know. I really think that you have to find a partner that compliments you, someone that pushes you. Someone who’s probably better at some things than you are so they can push you to improve yourself as a person. That’s my take.
KH: I think the exact opposite. I think it’s better to find somebody who’s worse at everything than you, and it just makes you feel constantly relieved and so good about yourself. And then you can constantly talk about how good you are at everything and how terrible they are at it. I agree, for sure, obviously. My husband is better at most everything than I am...
I think what I loved about this film in particular was that Spencer is a sophisticated guy who has seen the world and who has done all these things that are beyond her understanding and her reality, and she’s just kind of dorky. She doesn’t know she’s dorky... she just is, and she’s living in her own skin. She has a moment where she tries to be sophisticated to match this amazing man she’s met. Then she gives that up pretty quickly and that’s ultimately what he loves about her. I think that’s certainly, in my relationship, what makes it so spectacularly wonderful. My husband loves all the things that everyone else would find ridiculous or silly or dorky or whatever. That’s when you know you’ve found the right person.
EI: Katherine, were there any of the great comedy leading ladies that you looked at for inspiration?
KH: Catherine O’Hara... Yeah, there are so many beautifully comedic and wonderful actresses... Shirley Maclaine. I always have to say my friend T.R. Night, which is so lame, but you know who I’m talking about. He was so jealous that I got to work with Catherine on this, and Tom and Rob [Riggle]. Other comedic actresses that I admire… there are so many that I can’t even begin.
EI: Is there something about Shirley Maclaine that finds its way into your performances?
KH: I wish. I don’t think so, but I wish. That would be cool.
EI: As a producer as well as an actor on this film, Ashton, did you bring it in on time and on budget, and were you satisfied?
AK: No! [Smiles] As a producer, I’m extremely satisfied with the film. We set out to make a movie that was a $100 million movie for $70M, and those are always tricky because you don’t have that luxury of the extra day and you don’t have the luxury of the backup when something goes wrong. We got to Nice and it was supposed to be sunny and beautiful in Nice, and it was freezing and windy, and we’re on a yacht that’s pitching…and then we got to Atlanta.
This movie had its own correction in the world, I think. In the middle of the night, one of our generators got struck by lightning so it just shut us down. We were like, “Okay, we’re done.” It rained and rained and rained, and then we got fogged out one night. We were shooting outdoors... the scene where the car was crashing through the fences - and we got fogged out. Every single time one of those things happened, we just had to completely re-jigger what we were doing in order to make the movie and to make it on time and make it on budget, and we got very, very close. I think we were a couple of days over and a couple of dollars over, but we kept it pretty well under wraps.
EI: Ashton. You talked about relating and connecting to this character. Can you elaborate on that? Also, do you feel that having an older wife keeps you grounded?
AK: I don’t know about that. I think that, at the end of the day, it’s about the right wife. I don’t think it’s about older or younger. I think it’s really about finding somebody who’s the right one. Usually it’s going to be something illogical and it won’t make sense and you have to take a risk to find it. My teacher says that everything you want in the world is one step away. You just have to figure out which direction to step in.
I think that, in this movie, my character, when he makes the choice to leave his business and leave what it is that he’s doing for this woman, it’s really the representation of sacrifice. I think, in a relationship, if you really want to make it work, at some point in time, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices and you’re going to have to do some things that are a little bit uncomfortable. So, to me, that’s kind of an anchor that I understand.
EI: Katherine, what are you most grateful for in your career or in your life?
KH: Those are two different things... but in my career, I’m very grateful for the opportunities. It’s a crazy feeling and I’m very fortunate, and I can’t stop trying to take them all. So that’s awesome. In my life, I’m very, very grateful for my family and for my friends. Over the past couple of years, I found nothing more grounding and more safe and more constant than my friends and family, and I’m very grateful to be a mom. It’s changed my whole perspective in a very good way: There’s lots to be grateful for.
EI: Ashton, it seems like you can do no wrong with finding the right projects, whether it’s a camera commercial or your Twitter account, or an actual film: What kind of pressure is it to produce a film and then star in it as well?
AK: I fail frequently. I just try to keep it quiet! I guess it’s not really a pressure. I don’t feel like anything is pushing me. I just feel like I’m being pulled to things. I like to win. I think that’s one element. I also really just think about what audiences would want, what people would want. One of the things about being on Twitter for me is it’s mostly about just being on the pulse of what people are interested in and what people are doing and what people are looking for. I think I look at entertainment projects and storytelling, and I really try to think about what people want. I try to think about that guy or that girl who’s getting off of work on a Friday night after a long week of work — what do they want to do, or what do they want to see?
When it came to this movie in particular, this movie does ride on this fine line of reality and entertainment, and here we are. I don’t know how many people die in the movie, but you never get sucked into this sadness of death and you never get warped into it, and you’re still laughing. Meanwhile, people are dying all over the place and getting shot and killed, but yet we ride that tonal line of entertainment. There are no cops that show up. So there is this massive break in reality, but once you get on the ride, you just take a ride. For me, this film was about that guy or girl on a Friday night that gets off of work and just wants to go take a ride and just wants to go have some fun and be entertained and let loose. If you see a vessel and it’s empty, and you can figure out a way to fill it, you go for it, and that’s what this movie is about for me, and that’s what entertainment is about.
EI: Can you talk about the fight scene with Rob, did you do all the stunts in this movie or did you have a double?
AK: I do have a stunt person, I’m not as awesome as Tom Cruise. I don’t jump through glass. I didn’t participate in the jumping through the glass, and my stunt double went to the hospital, I think twice, for jumping through glass. I did jump off the boat and I did most of the fight stuff. I bought one of those DVDs off the TV, those exercise tapes, and I put it in and watched it and got in shape. I did some fight training stuff. I learned krav maga and muay thai kali, which is Filipino knife fighting.
Then I realized that I should’ve learned how to movie fight because, on the first fight scene, I knocked out a stunt guy. That was a bad thing. We were doing this scene on the boat. We were on the yacht in the wind. He threw a punch and I blocked it, and I punched him and knocked him out. I felt really bad about that. Then I kicked Rob in the face. I hurt a lot of people. I should’ve just let the stunt guy do everything, to be honest, and stuck to just making jokes.
EI: Did you actually try to grow a Tom Selleck mustache?
AK: I have been trying to grow that mustache since I had facial hair. I believe Tom produces more testosterone in his little finger than I produce in my entire body. My face doesn’t do that. I can’t. I’m so enamored by Tom’s facial hair that I would say Tom’s mustache is akin to Chuck Norris’s beard. That’s a great thing.
KH: A great thing, even glorious.
AK: I can’t grow a mustache. It’s pretty sad when I attempt to.
KH: I can!
EI: Katherine - apart from moustache growing, what do you like to do when you’re not working?
KH: I hang out with my friends a lot. I hang out with my husband a lot and watch my daughter toddle around. I spend a lot of time at home just chillin’. It’s my favorite thing to do right now.
EI: Looking ahead for a moment - Can you talk about taking on the Stephanie Plum character?
KH: I’m so excited about that. I didn’t really know much about the books until I got talked to about them. Then I started reading the books and I got obsessed with them. Now I’m on nine and I’m so invested now in the story, these characters, that I’m afraid that I’m not going to live up to my own expectations of what the book is, but it’s a really fun challenge and it’s really exciting. I’m really very excited about it because there is such a great following and it’s so well-written in the books — so witty and funny, and there are so many great characters.
EI: Would you hope that it would become a franchise, based around this female bounty hunter?
KH: Oh sure, yeah. Of course. That would be awesome. I don’t know that we’d do 15, but I’d love to do that.
EI: Is the reason for the brunette hair?
KH: It is. It’s for Stephanie Plum.
EI: Finally, Ashton - When your name comes up and people are talking about you, everyone seems to have a lot to say and yet the subject they bring up to me is always different. It seems that people connect with you in so many ways... even with all the information out there about you, what are people most surprised to know about you?
AK: I think people are most shocked and in most disbelief that I go to the office everyday. I have a job. When I’m not acting on a movie, I go to work at 8:00 in the morning and I get home from work at 7:00 at night. I treat my job like a job. I work at it. I think people would probably be most surprised if I ever calculated the number of hours I work in an average week and published that. If it was ever documented, I think people would be shocked to find that out....
Lionsgate's 'Killers' in in theaters on June 4, 2010.