A LOT LIKE LOVE - Q&A with Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet
Movie Interview by Elaine Lipworth
The path to true love is anything but smooth for the two stars of A LOT LIKE LOVE, an enchanting romantic comedy starring Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet. They meet on a plane, say goodbye at the airport and go their own way. But are they destined to be together? It takes seven years for them to discover whether they are in love or just good friends.
Sparks fly and passions soar on a cross-country plane trip from LA to New York. But is it love at first 'flight' or a one 'flight' stand for Ashton and Amanda?
Ashton Kutcher is one of Hollywood's hottest stars. He's cool, handsome and immensely talented, with a gift for comedy. However, he is anything but cool in A LOT LIKE LOVE. His character, Oliver is young, unsophisticated and shy - at least at the start of the movie. He is seduced by a stunning young woman called Emily, played by Amanda Peet and he is swept off his feet. The only problem? She does not appear to feel the same way.
It is a funny and compelling romantic comedy that tells the story of two very different people who certainly have great chemistry but don't appear to have much in common. She is wild, sexy and sure of herself. He is insecure but has big dreams of becoming a business tycoon.
A LOT LIKE LOVE is written by Colin Patrick Lynch and directed by Nigel Cole, an acclaimed British filmmaker who had hits with SAVING GRACE and CALENDAR GIRLS. He brings subtlety and intelligence to the film, using an old fashioned comic recipe with wonderful results. While it is a traditional comedy however, the characters and the setting are youthful and contemporary. Despite their differences, Emily and Oliver cannot seem to live without each other. Fate brings them together at the outset. The question is - have they found true love and are they destined to be together in the long run?
At 27, Ashton Kutcher has already made a name for himself in the hit American TV show, THAT 70s SHOW. He recently starred in GUESS WHO. His other films include THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN and JUST MARRIED. He was born in a small town in Iowa and grew up on a farm. Discovered by a local talent scout, he moved to New York to pursue acting. He lives in Los Angeles with actress Demi Moore.
Amanda Peet, 32, starred opposite Bruce Willis in THE WHOLE NINE YARDS. She appeared in the hit comedy SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton and is starring in the new Woody Allen film, MELINDA AND MELINDA.
The following interview with both stars was conducted in Los Angeles. Ashton was wearing a maroon tee shirt under a black, pinstriped shirt. Amanda wore cream pants with a sheer silky brown patterned top by Jean Paul Gaultier, her hair swept up off her face.
What kind of person is your character, Oliver?
ASHTON: The appeal of Oliver is that it is easy to relate to him. There are so many men like him who often feel like they have to achieve a certain status in the world before they can have a successful relationship. Oliver feels that he needs to be financially secure before he can get involved with anyone. He tells himself, 'I am not cool yet but I will be when I have this and that.... a lucrative business and a house. Then I will be OK.' He is the kind of guy who thinks 'right now I am not at a high level in my life, so I can get a certain type of girl, but when I get further up the ladder and have progressed with my career, I will be able to 'trade up' to a different type of girl. He has his own set of rules. So he tells himself not to have a relationship until he gets to where he wants to be in life. The truth is that you are never actually there. But at the same time you are always there, wherever 'there' is. It is a journey. I think people will really identify with him.
Do you set yourself very high standards too?
ASHTON: Yes, that is why I can relate to him so well. I constantly set standards for myself and goals and create an illusion that I cannot have both (a relationship and career). But you find out that you have to have a balance in life. I used to do the same thing as Oliver in terms of my career, for sure. I was ambitious and I was unkind to people as a result. I do not think I was fair to people a lot of the time and I made really poor judgments because I was so driven and needed to succeed as an actor.
When you were a little boy growing up in Iowa, did you ever dream that you would be as successful and famous as you have become?
ASHTON: No I didn't. It is weird. Every time I have a successful movie or TV show it is amazing, like a dream come true for me. And when dreams come true more than once, we start to call the dreams realities. Now it has become much easier because I don't need to drive myself crazy anymore. But it was a dream, what I am doing now with my career never seemed as though it would be possible when I was younger. I would also think to myself: 'why would anyone be interested in me or what I have to say?' I would go to parties and feel like the butler when I was growing up, as though I did not belong. So now that I feel like I am invited to the party for who I am, it is completely different, it is great.
The director of A LOT LIKE LOVE, Nigel Cole, compares you to Cary Grant. Is that thrilling for you?
ASHTON: It is a great compliment. I appreciate it and it is so great because it is like the captain of your ship saying that you have sailed well. I cannot thank him enough for saying something so kind. It is hard for me to comment of course, because I cannot take an outside, objective perspective on my career and my life. I don't know what direction I will go take in the future, whether I will move do drama as well as comedy. Certain people will always try to compartmentalize you by saying things like 'Oh he's only good at comedy' or 'he is still doing the same funny character as before'. People always try to categorize you.
How did you and Nigel choose Amanda for this film?
ASHTON: We were looking for someone who had the right combination that we needed for this relationship and story to work. We wanted an actress with the ability to be vulnerable but also to be funny. I'd seen Amanda in various films and she's really funny. It's rare that you find someone who's beautiful and funny and Amanda has all those qualities and that makes her brilliant.
Amanda, your character Emily has a definite New York look and style at the start of the movie, did you ever dress like her?
AMANDA: I grew up in New York and I went through a big 'Goth' phase wearing black. I definitely fancied myself to be a downtown hipster arty type of person. I was actually a prude in high school, I did my homework and went to college and worked hard and was pretty normal. But I definitely identified with Emily and how she saw herself as artistic and tough.
What was it like having a nude scene in the desert, was it difficult for you?
ASHTON: I like being nude as often as possible. [Laughs]
AMANDA: I like you being nude too. [Laugh]
ASHTON: No I was actually really frightened of it. For other people it is OK. I like them being nude, but I don't like to be naked very much on screen myself. It means being completely exposed, which is hard. I had a 'banana hammock' on, which is a really exciting garment to wear, it is like a thong with a (baseball) catcher's mitt attached to it. [Laughs]. It is a little awkward to wear. I think we were both so insecure about taking off our clothes though, that we were not looking at anybody else to see their reactions. We were on a stage. We were not actually outside, so I think that helped.
What was it like having sex in the toilet in the airplane with Amanda? We don't actually see you because you are behind closed doors.
ASHTON: I have done it in other movies. For some reason directors seem to like the idea of me having sex in toilets! I was really comfortable with that scene.
Have you ever done that yourself?
ASHTON: I tried it once but I did not even actually get into the rest room (toilet.) I was flying with somebody and we were sitting down. I got up and went over to the rest room, but it was too difficult trying to get both of us in there. There were too many people around us and people would not go to sleep. It was really awkward and we never actually made it.
Ashton, your character is seduced in the movie; do you usually make the first move in your relationships?
ASHTON: I am not really a 'move' guy. I do not make first moves. I do not know how to make the first move; I am pretty shy about the initial conversation to start a date or relationship. I am not good at that.
Amanda, what are you like in relationships, do you wait for the guy to call or do you make the first move?
AMANDA: I try not to plan too much and I do not have rules like 'do not call him back until the third day'. Blah blah blah. No I do not do any of that. I like to let things happen and take their course.
Ashton what does love mean to you?
ASHTON: Agh...well... that is a really difficult question for me because I am really a love cynic. I don't know if it is truly attainable every day. To me love is when your desire for someone else is greater than your desire for yourself, or equal to that. That is a tricky thing to attain. The concept of love that we see in A LOT LIKE LOVE is what most of us called love, where there are always obstacles, but it is hard to define.
Amanda what do you think?
AMANDA: The idea of the movie is that they do have real love but dance around it and keep moving around and traveling before committing to each other, but the love is always there.
Why do you think Emily is so wary of getting involved with Oliver right away?
AMANDA: I think it is to do with being young and wanting to appear cool. The younger you are I think you are more likely to be concerned about having some kind of 'cool' persona, rather being who you are and just getting involved. Some people, who have suffered a loss like my character, are afraid of certain kinds of people. She is afraid of Ashton's character, who is vulnerable and earnest and direct. People like Emily prefer someone who is more aloof and harder to get, because that would make them feel safer.
Amanda why did you find the movie so interesting?
AMANDA: What appealed to me about the movie was the combative beginning. She likes him despite herself. I think this film is exciting because it is an old fashioned romantic comedy. She thinks that she is better than him. And underneath there is a great sizzle and fire percolating.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
AMANDA: I personally do not believe in love at first sight. I definitely believe in chemistry and lust at first sight. But I think love is something that takes work. You can see in the movie that timing is important, timing is everything. Both people have to be ready and open and I think that is what the movie is about."
Ashton your character in the movie embarrasses himself, or makes himself vulnerable by serenading Emily with a Bon Jovi song on the guitar, have you ever done anything extreme for love?
ASHTON: Oh yes. I don't think I have done anything crazy or absurd, but I have put a lot of effort into a relationship to try to impress someone. But I wouldn't call it absurd. The craziest thing I ever did was when I was in Canada shooting a film and I developed a long distance relationship with someone back in the United States. I flew to Los Angeles for thirty minutes to see her and then flew back out again because I only had a thirty-minute window to see that person. But I got there and she wasn't there, she was late. Then she turned up with only fifteen minutes to go, so I had fifteen minutes with her and then I had to leave.
Ashton do you have religious or spiritual beliefs?
ASHTON: I try not to have religious beliefs - that is the first misconception. To me being religious is doing things because other people say doing them will make your life better. On the other hand spirituality is doing things and seeing the results. The biggest change in my life since becoming spiritual is that I try to live my own life and I think I have become a better person.
Amanda do you enjoy fashion, you look great?
AMANDA: I love fashion, I think it is fun. Being in this business, I think it is part of the glamour, getting dressed up and going to a premiere. It probably fulfils an adolescent fantasy. The outfit I am wearing is by Gaultier.
Ashton you are known in your MTV series, PUNK'D, for playing tricks, practical jokes on people, has anyone ever done that to you?
ASHTON: Yes. John Edwards, the democratic senator who was running for Vice President in the last election, played a trick on me. I was campaigning for him and I was traveling on a private jet with him. At the airport Secret Service officers were there. Security was very tight and strict. They were checking luggage on the tarmac. One of the Secret Service guys asked me if a particular grey bag was mine, which it was, and asked if I was carrying a firearm? I said 'No'. He said he was going to detonate it because of a suspected firearm inside it. I said 'detonate it. I am not trying to kill anyone, I promise.' Then I realized they were playing a joke on me.
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