“Friends with benefits” is a new concept for a new millennium. For women tired of looking for Mr. Right, could Mr. Best Friend be just the man? Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake discuss the topic of their summer movie in our new interview!
In ‘Friends With Benefits’, Justin Timberlake is Dylan, an art director, and Mila Kunis is Jamie, a headhunter. When Jamie successfully lures Dylan away from his L.A. job to New York, the two discover they have a lot in common and begin spending a lot of friend time together. They’ve each been through so many failed relationships that they’ve given up on love and are focusing on having fun. But they soon learn that being friends with benefits is way more complicated than they supposed.
Q: Is Friends With Benefits more of a movie thing or a real-life thing? Can it work in real life?
Justin: Mila recently heard a story from a reporter that she and her husband started their relationship as friends with benefits. Now they are happily married. We say if you are being honest and safe, have a good time because I don’t think…and Mila agrees…that it is not a long-term idea, so there is no way to make that work long-term, but it either leads to something more or it fizzles out.
Q: What did you mean by honest and safe?
Justin: I mean honest about what is happening…
Mila: …what your intentions are.
Q: Who handles “Friends with Benefits” better — men or women?
Justin: I don’t think it is better or worse. I think you are talking about Mars vs. Venus. I think there are things that women do way better than men, and there are things that men accept about themselves that they think they do better than women.
True or false: It was awkward to shoot the love scenes.
Mila: True. But these scenes were funny, so they were a little less awkward. I think if they had to be serious, and they were, ‘bounce around,’ then it would have been incredibly awkward.
What is the worst piece of relationship advice that somebody gave you that blew up in your face?
Justin: I don’t know. I feel like my friends are pretty sensible people.
Mila: Mine, too. I have never gotten horrible advice. I have really, great smart people around me.
Justin: Also, at the end of the day, it is your experience, so man up and make your own decisions.
Q: Mila, we heard you were in the middle of this really passionate scene and you fell to sleep?
Mila: I think it might have been going on 20 hours.
Justin: The reason I didn’t fall asleep was I took a nap before we shot those scenes.
Mila: [To Justin] I think I gave you the heads’ up. I think all you saw was my shoulder at that point. [Director] Will [Gluck] was, “All you have to do is lie in this position.” So, I turned to him and said, “I am going to close my eyes for five minutes.” He was like, “OK.” I fell asleep. It happens. You just saw my shoulder.
Q: One of the things that was refreshing in this film is that in most romantic comedies no matter how much comedy has been going on, when it comes to the intimate scenes, it suddenly becomes very serious. You kept the comedy going during the sex scenes. How much of a challenge was that and how do you research that?
Mila: We sat around and verbalized the scenes for two months. We would do dialogue upon dialogue of what we thought was funny. I personally did not draw upon my personal experiences…not to say, I wasn’t, “I heard a funny story once,” but you just talk about things that you normally don’t talk about it, so we were, “Let’s talk about that.” The bubble gum scene happened accidentally on the day I was blocking the scene and I was chewing gum and I blew a bubble in Justin’s face. They were like, “great!”
Q: Was height an issue? In the movie Mila is wearing platforms.
Justin: Was it for ‘Casablanca’ that they dug a ditch for Humphrey Bogart? No, we had a resident apple box on set.
Mila: Justin is tall. People don’t realize it. Most men in this industry are averaging 5-8, 5-9. Justin is 6-1; I am 5-4, so there is a height difference. If I were to take these [shoes] off…I am short.
Justin: We hope that the laughter in this movie comes from a place of relating to sometimes how ridiculous life can be. That is what we admired about ‘When Harry Met Sally’. That was a movie that constantly came up when we were workshopping. What I love about that movie is it is a man and a woman, they are equals, they treat each other like equals and they talk about their generation and what society, at that time, collectively viewed as love, sex and relationships. And that is what we wanted to do with this movie. We wanted to make a modern, generational comedy in that way.
Q: One of the enjoyable things about this movie is you learned about the characters from their actions.
Justin: I like that in this movie the backstory on both characters kind of sneaks up on you after you have had so much fun with them. This whole movie feels like a romp. All of a sudden you have all these values with Jamie and her mother who is so brilliantly played by Patty [Patricia Clarkson]. Then you have Dylan’s whole familial angle. In the movie when you travel to L.A. with them, all of a sudden it opened up to me in a completely different way because you’re like, “Wow, there is more to Dylan than I thought.”
When I read the movie, I looked at all he is subconsciously dealing with: He is dealing with his father, who is his hero, who is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Then you also have his sister. Her relationship didn’t work out, but she also has a son. Dylan is almost a father-figure to him. He is doing naturally what he learned from his father, but at the same time, he is dealing with what his father is dealing with. There is a lot there. All of that sneaks up on you. I think that is how you learn about people. You meet someone and then they surprise you. They surprise you with how earnest they can possibly be. That is what I love about this character, too.
The same thing with Woody’s [Harrelson] character. When you first meet him, he comes across as this stark individual but what you realize is that it is just that character’s sense of humor. I am really proud that we were able to show specifically what it is like for a straight man and a gay man to have an honest friendship regardless of their differences in sexual preference. They are just friends. We are all people. We are all different. We should use what is different about us to relate to each other. That is what I like about a lot of the relationships in this movie.
‘Friends With Benefits’ heads into movie theaters on Friday, July 22.