JUST MARRIED - Q&A with Ashton Kutcher
Movie Interview by Toby White
In a conference room in the St Martins Hotel in London, PHASE9 joined a small gathering of journalists round the table for a chat with the one of the stars of JUST MARRIED, Ashton Kutcher.
How did you find Europe? Was it your first trip?
Actually, when I was nineteen I won a competition and had an opportunity to travel around the world modelling and I came over here then. I went to Milan, Paris and London, so I'd been to Europe before we started shooting the movie.
So was your first experience quite different from your character's or were there any similarities?
Well, it was kind of a mix of both. From the competition I got to go to Rome and loved it. I found the history of the place incredible. I mean, Americans think they have history but not like this...Shooting over here was really great, it's a lot more relaxed and not so... Go! Go! Go! I mean it gets done, but just in a far more relaxed way, you have time to enjoy your lunch and, it was funny, we were shooting a scene in the piazza in Venice and this huge crowd gathered and applauded when we'd done the scene. To me Europe's fascinating, it's an exploration, you can sneak around streets and come across things that you think you found yourself.
You play quite nutty characters on the screen but in real life are you more of a conventional person?
A lot of the characters I play are quite stupid and naïve and I don't think I'm like that in the way I go about things. But almost all the characters I play have a passion and an energy and I share that but I don't know that I'm like a funny person in general. I was never the funny kid growing up. I had to learn comedy. When I first started THAT 70s SHOW, which was my first professional acting job, there was a writer on the show and she pulled me off to one side and I was convinced I was going to get fired I mean I wasn't good, I wasn't doing anything right, no one was laughing but she said "look, there's a trick to this" and she showed me the waltz of comedy, the "set up, set up, punch line" of comedy. She taught me that in comedy, don't try to be funny. I do think the character in JUST MARRIED though is far closer to me than any of the others I've played. I have this thing that if I'm not in control of a situation I get very anxious and the character shares that.
What was modelling like? Are there any similarities between modelling and acting?
It's very silly. There is no self-gratification about being a model at all. You can't go "Boy, I sure put in a day today" [laughter] "Wow, I really worked my ass off." And it's hard to become a better model. Once you're a model, it's not like you'll get to become better looking and you're gonna, like, pose better. [laughter] I mean you're really just a coat hanger for clothes and I often had to wear things I hated. But there is a difference between modelling in the States and in Europe. I think models in Europe get more recognition.
Did modelling mean you got over any self-consciousness you might have had if you'd gone straight into acting?
Definitely. Particularly any kind of embarrassment about what I would look like. One time, when I came over I had an exclusive deal with Gucci. I had to try on all these things in front of the head of Gucci. And I had no idea he was gay but I'm trying on these thongs in front of him. Thong after thong after thong and it's really hard to make a thong look cool [laughter] and after a while I was just, like, "Whatever". So I'm really not shy about stuff because of it and I think that really helped with acting.
In the film, you have this secret you keep about a dog. Do you have any secrets?
I think everybody has. If you say you don't that's the biggest secret of all. I find it funny though how a secret can manifest itself into something bigger. And that's actually what I saw this film was about and what attracted me to it. You end up arguing over the smallest things and this secret manifests itself in them so you end up arguing over nothing but this lie that you didn't reveal in the first place. It's a very important point of the movie...but as far as my personal life goes, you'll never know. [laughter]
What was it like for Brittany, did she ever mention it, acting to your navel? Because there's quite a height difference...
[laughs] Yeah...the first time I met her was right before we did the movie and we had this meeting in a hotel and as we walked out there was this mirror in the lobby and I stood there and I'm up here and she's here [holds his hand at chest level] and I was, like, "That's funny. We have to do this movie."
You grew up in a small town, what was your background like? Who were your influences then?
You get very creative with what you do for fun. We would go hunting, fishing, camping, just a lot of outdoor stuff. Sports. I was really into sports. I was in the boy scouts too but, other than that, we got into a lot of trouble. A lot of kegs in cornfields, that kind of thing. If I'm bored, a lot of bad things happen so I try to keep active.
How did you go from there to modelling?
Well, I have a twin brother and, when we were thirteen, he had a heart transplant for a condition he had. About a year later I decided I wanted to become a geneticist to try and stop that virus from replicating. So I went to college and did genetic engineering and it was during my second year that I was out one night and met somebody who suggested I enter this modelling contest. I entered and won, went to New York and modelled for about 8 months and it was there that I met a manager who suggested I test for a pilot in LA, which I did, and that's how I ended up in THAT 70s SHOW. But at that point I had also tested for an NBC drama. I had done my test for THAT 70s SHOW and was walking through the building and this guy stopped me and asked me to read for this other thing, a one-hour drama about cowboy surfers. [laughter] And I read it but didn't quite understand the concept but I read it and they liked it and the network guys came down and I read again and they were, like, "So you're coming to Hawaii with us" and I was, like, "hang on a minute" because the 70s SHOW guys offered me the part and I wanted that. So I called the NBC guys and told them and they said, "What, are you crazy? You're going to take a half hour show on Fox over NBC?" - because Fox was really quite small by comparison - and they were, like, "A comedy? Are you out of your mind? We read you for comedy, you're not funny!" Right there, when they said that, I thought, "Okay, I'm doing the comedy."
How do you find the differences between your hometown and places like New York and LA?
Oh, I don't fit in. But both of those cities are these eclectic melting pots so I don't think anyone really fits in. If I go to the Beverly Hills Hotel I'm so out of place. I always feel like the butler, I feel like the guy who shouldn't be sitting at the table but is anyway. But, see, I'm very grateful for everything that I have and I've worked for some people where all they do is complain and I'm, like, "Are you out of your mind? Don't you see you have this great job and everything?" So I think it's advantageous to have the upbringing that I had.
Given your background, growing up on a farm and moving to the big city, is there any truth in the rumour that this attracted Brett Ratner to talk to you about playing Superman?
Well, I was approached about doing it and it seemed like an interesting offer but...it's kind of complicated, the scheduling of that movie, it got moved back, and it complicated things with other commitments. But, you know, I think that in a way that movie's bigger than any actor that can play the role. I don't know if I could be Clark Kent like Christopher Reeve. And also I have a number of other roles I want to play and I think that by playing that role it would limit me playing other roles. I would always be seen as Superman.
So what's next for you?
I'm in a film that's playing at Cannes this year called . It's a psychological drama about a guy with an association disorder. Very different from JUST MARRIED.