On the heels of Black Swan and Bad Teacher, respectively, Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake get together for some fun romps in the sack with no strings attached in Screen Gems' new romantic comedy Friends with Benefits. The two actors sat down with Buzzine to talk about what kind of comedy this is, and how they worked it so the audience would like and relate to the characters as they watch them fall in love naturally...
Emmanuel Itier: Is this a fantasy without getting into the romantic comedy and being predictable?
Mila Kunis: Maybe. We always thought of it as comedy rather than a romantic comedy; if anything, it was a two-hander. Like a buddy comedy with a little romance in it. Ultimately, you care about the characters because you watch the characters fall in love, but it's not your stereotypical romantic comedy.
Justin Timberlake: We always treated this as a comedy.
EI: Let's say a sex comedy?
JT: No, not a sex comedy -- just a comedy. I don't know if we ever treated it as romantic comedy or a slacker comedy, or, to me, funny is funny and not funny is not funny. We just wanted to find the funny in all these situations. That's how we treated this. But also, you go through the first half this movie, and you actually fall in love with who these people are. You feel closer to them, and you feel like you're in the middle and watching them fall in love, and they don't even know it because they are becoming friends and not just having sex.
EI: Was getting to know the characters most important to the both of you, and that we got to know both characters' families?
MK: I think that was important.
JT: That's always important.
MK: Otherwise you only have hi-jinx, and hi-jinx only takes you so far. It gets boring after a while. I think that, to keep a person's interest, you have to get them involved and make them care for the people.
EI: Is this your first lead role?
MK: I don't know if you've watched Krippendorf's Tribe. I guess so. Sure.
EI: Does that add any kind of pressure -- making it or waiting for it to open?
MK: No, 'cause that would suck.
JT: We already deal with those demons before we sign contracts. After you commit to the movie, you have to let that stuff go. I will be a little more honest in saying that it's a two-hander, and that was a little bit of comfort, knowing that you're going to be sharing the role and the comedy and the whole movie with a counterpart. There's never a moment in the movie where one of us is out there by ourselves. It's definitely a two-hander, and we wanted it to be that way.
EI: What do you think about complicated relationships?
MK: Relationships are complicated. I agree with you. I don't know how to elaborate on it. I have yet to meet a couple who doesn't have a complicated relationship. I think that's a fact.
EI: Someone said you went through the script 20 pages at a time and said, "This has to be sexier; we can't be PG-13 with this." Talk about that process...
JT: We say it needed to be sexier in no shape or form, but I think the opposite, in the bedroom scenes. We wanted to make them funny. We were screening it for friends and family, and all of my friends say those are the moments that happen that nobody talks about, and if you don't say it's happened and don't acknowledge them, it's almost like they didn't. That's the beauty of these two characters' predicaments. They don't have that -- they're jumping into this situation without trying to have that emotional connection, so they're much more verbal with each other. They're more forthcoming about anything that might come up, like her character says, "We don't have to be insecure about it because we're not trying to do anything beyond what we're doing." I think we just wanted to make it more real. When they care about making it more sexy or anything like that, we just make it more real, and to me, this type of movie -- the R-rated movie -- is more real. It's an adult comedy, and I think it's a rare one, in a sense. It speaks to my generation, and every generation comes around. Things change and you evolve, and we do the opposite of evolve. We digress, and I think we just wanted to make a real situational comedy from a male and female perspective the way two people who are close to the same age see the world.
EI: With some of the scenes being so physical and intimate, did you both know each other before filming this movie? Did you have to work together to get more comfortable with each other?
JT: It took a lot of work on my part. I was a bit upset when I found out we were going to be sharing a bed together. I was like, "Eww gross." But I did it because I'm a pro.
MK: Such a professional.
JT: Hard work.
MK: You sucked it up. You took one for the team.
EI: From the Vanity Fair piece, it mentioned you had a choice to film the sex scenes at the beginning or at the end of filming...
JT: We chose to do it at the end because we had a rare situation where we wanted to shoot in New York and LA. Those were big characters too. In New York, we weren't going to shoot until the summer. We wanted it to be hot and sticky and have that...
MK: And it was!
JT: It was brutally hot and obscene in Central Park.
Screen Gems' 'Friends with Benefits' is released on July 22, 2011.