SheKnows is lounging at a posh beachside hotel in Santa Monica, California chatting with Friends with Benefits stars Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. The hotel room window is framing a glorious sunny day with swaying palm trees, blue water, white sand… you know the cliche, and we’re stuck inside.
Friends with Benefits stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake walk in and settle into chairs to talk relationships, onscreen hook-ups and not repeating their parents’ love mistakes. Are they a couple? They banter like one.
Friends: The new Black?
SheKnows: Mila, how does having fake hook-ups with Justin compare to making out with Natalie Portman (in Black Swan)?
Mila Kunis: [Laughs] Well, the only thing I can say is that one was funny and one was scary.
Justin Timberlake: I was more intrusive. You do the math.
SheKnows: Are those intimate scenes comparable to a choreographed dance number?
Justin Timberlake: Well, it’s funny you should say that. Yeah. It’s physical humor. It has a level of theatrics to it.
Mila Kunis: I agree, like, versus whether it’s comfortable. That’s the honest answer, that it’s very choreographed and very specific.
Justin Timberlake: It’s definitely less awkward when you’re required to make (the hook-up scenes) awkward. We wanted to use these scenes to break a little ground and actually put the banter in them. In real life, when awkward things happen when you’re first getting intimate with a new counterpart, it’s like, ‘If I didn’t say that it happened then it didn’t happen.’ But later on you talk about it, like, ‘You remember the time when it was really awkward?’ ‘Oh, my God, thank you for saying that.’ I think we wanted to use a lot of this movie to break a lot of ground. There’s a lot in it that just feels more like how we see our generation, and a good way to empower that is to comment on how ridiculous some of it might be.
SheKnows: You both seem so comfortable with your bodies in this movie. Do you each run around in the buff at home or what?
Mila Kunis: [Laughs] Yeah. I like to run around naked on the streets all the time.
SheKnows: Okay. Re-wording… are you comfortable enough with your bodies that the hot, near-in-the-buff scenes don’t bother you?
Mila Kunis: No. I’m pretty self-conscious, I think, in general. It doesn’t help that I’m a female. I’m not the most comfortable, relatively speaking.
Justin Timberlake: As a juxtaposition to that, I’m extremely comfortable with Mila’s body.
Mila Kunis: Thank you.
SheKnows: Your Friends with Benefits director, Will Gluck, talked about these characters being kindred spirits. He said he saw that when you two got into a room together for the first time. Did you feel that way? Was there a kindred quality between the two of you?
Mila Kunis: We have the same sense of humor we realized early on. I think the chemistry had a lot to do with the writing and I think that once we got comfortable with the characters it was easy to put that across onscreen. We became friends because we had two, three months of rehearsal, writing and rewriting and you don’t always get that. So, you hope that somehow that translates to the screen but as far as feeling like kindred spirits, I mean I think we had a lot of things in common.
Justin Timberlake: We actually do have a lot in common, and we bonded over a lowbrow sense of humor that we share. But also we kind of grew up in the business so we share that and we’re both pretty normal people when we’re not working. Like Mila said, we had an unusual amount of time to rehearse. So, we were able to discuss the scenes when we work-shopped them and find what we thought was like-minded from a male perspective and a female perspective about them.
SheKnows: Do you both think a lot of people are reluctant to get into relationships because they don’t want to repeat their parents’ mistakes? In the film, both of your characters seem to feel that way.
Justin Timberlake: I think that happens with every person, not just in relationships. I think that you get to a certain point in your life where you feel like you’ve taken all the cards you’ve been dealt and made a great situation of them, and then you realize that things are in your DNA that you have no control over and you have to kind of accept those. I think that you go through all facets of life feeling like you want to gain your independence. So, sometimes there’s a misunderstanding of feeling like you have to break away from your parents to do that.
Mila Kunis: I couldn’t agree more.
SheKnows: Do you both have a favorite romantic comedy movie?
Mila Kunis: Yeah, other than When Harry Met Sally for sure. So, discredit that one. Mine is truly one of my favorite movies, and it’s a bit of a cheesy answer but it’s honest.
Justin Timberlake: No, it’s not cheesy. It’s a great movie.
Mila Kunis: All right. Pretty Woman. That’s one of my favorite movies in general.
Justin Timberlake: That’s an adult romantic comedy and it’s a really good movie. [To Mila] I think it’s great because it’s the movie that your character loves in the movie.
Mila Kunis: I wonder why? Will (Gluck) was like, ‘What’s your favorite movie?’ I was like, Pretty Woman.
Justin Timberlake: I don’t think you should feel bad about that. I think that’s a great movie. It makes me laugh.
Mila Kunis: I can put that movie on mute and tell you word for word each piece of dialogue. I love that movie. It truly makes me happy.
Justin Timberlake: I remember the part with the escargot flying. (Richard Gere) grabs it like (Robert) De Niro in Awakenings…
SheKnows: And Justin, your favorite romantic comedy?
Justin Timberlake: I got in trouble for saying Terms of Endearment. Mila was like, ‘That’s not a romantic comedy,’ but it made me laugh and so I thought that it was funny. I guess Terms of Endearment would be more like a slice-of-life dramedy. I lean towards movies like that. But I will say that When Harry Met Sally is a great one. What I love about that movie is what I love about what we aspired to do with this movie; stop, look around at your generation and say what’s funny and ridiculous about it. For me that empowers people who will go see this movie that want to be spoken to in a smart way about love and sex and relationships and connections between people.
Friends’ film parents
SheKnows: Mila, can you talk about working with Patty Clarkson as your wild, raunchy mom? Was it a great girl bonding experience when you met or were you in awe of her?
Mila Kunis: Completely and utterly in awe of her. I love her, everything about her. He is in love with her.
Justin Timberlake: I am in love with Patty.
SheKnows: She said some great things about you.
Justin Timberlake: We’re having a love affair on this press tour.
Mila Kunis: They love each other. I love Patty. I love everything about her. I love the person that she is. I love her work. I mean, I truly admire her. She’s amazing.
Justin Timberlake: Patty is warm and fuzzy to me because she embodies Southern class like a graceful Southern goddess (Patricia is from New Orleans). And she’s a broad too, and that comes with being Southern.
SheKnows: (In my best Southern accent) Well, thank yew! [Mila laughs].
Justin Timberlake: See. It’s true. There’s something about growing up, being raised by a Southern woman and being in love with the South. For me that’s warm and fuzzy. Oh, don’t tell (Patricia) I called her warm and fuzzy. Say that I’m in love with her.
SheKnows: Okay, will do (and we did — check out our interview with Patricia Clarkson).