“Sometimes I let it get to me—I have internal dialogues with myself all day long. But, you know, people criticize a woman for everything—like, I get criticized for how my hair looks when I go grocery shopping or the fact that I don’t wear makeup when I get my nails done. Women get scrutinized all the time for the way they look. So if I can learn to deal with that, then I do believe I can learn to deal with people’s criticisms of my film choices.”
Actors Mila Kunis and James Franco sat down for an interesting conversation in Interview Magazine‘s August 2012 issue. The TED actress covers the issue and discusses Hollywood double standards, admits to having no shame, her career, taking criticism in stride and so much more.
Read some of the interview below and check out photos from her shoot with Craig McDean, where she’s styled by Karl Templer wearing Diesel, Levis, Miu Miu and True Religion, to name a few.
JAMES FRANCO: So a funny thing happened on this movie I’m doing down here in New Orleans that made me think of you. The movie is a comedy, but it’s kind of an outrageous one, and this actress [Emma Watson]—I won’t say who, but she had a smaller role in the film—walked off the movie in the middle of a scene.
MILA KUNIS: This is Seth [Rogen]’s movie that you’re talking about?
FRANCO: Yeah. I’ll admit that the scene we were doing was pretty crazy. There’s not any nudity, but it is pretty outrageous. It’s not as if the scene wasn’t in the script, though. In any case, I didn’t see any of this go down, but I guess she basically went up to the directors, Seth and Evan [Goldberg], and said, “I don’t think I can do this.” She, by the way, didn’t have to do anything crazy in the scene. But what was going on around her was, I guess, too extreme for her.
So Seth was like, “Well, what can we do to fix it?” And she said, “There’s nothing you can do to fix it. It’s just everything.” And he said, “Well, let’s just shoot it and I promise you can come to the editing room, and, if you don’t like what we’ve cut together, then we will not put it in the movie.” And she said, “No, that’s still not good. I just can’t do this. I can’t be here.” And he said, “Do you want to leave?” And she said, “Yeah, I’ve got to leave.”
You have to laught at the absurdity of this entire industry and the absurdity of what it is we do. If i didn’t, i’d go crazy.
FRANCO: Yeah, so she left. But what I’m really leading to is that my experience working with you has, in many ways, been the opposite of that.
KUNIS: I guess you could say that I have no shame. [laughs] I mean, if you think about all the stuff that you’ve made me do—just you alone, James . . .
FRANCO: We can get into that if you want.
KUNIS: We don’t have to get into details, but that poor girl would never be able to do a short with you. She would never be able to have fake blood thrown at her, with blood-sucking vampires and dildos being thrown everywhere.
FRANCO: At this point, we might need to explain that you and I worked together many times before. I’m sure that some people know that we did a Funny or Die video together, and then we did Date Night, and then we just acted together in Oz: The Great and Powerful, which was directed by Sam Raimi. But we’ve also done a bunch of side projects together.
There is one that we did in a trailer with my hair-and-makeup person, Nana Fischer, that I don’t know if anybody will ever see. [both laugh] We did a feature called Tar—that one people will definitely see. And then there’s the one you’re referring to where you play a leather-clad, bow-and-arrow-wielding vampire killer, and let’s just say that there is lots of blood and gore.
KUNIS: Yes. That would not be okay for that girl. I, on the other hand, am game.
FRANCO: What I’d like to do is figure out why that is. First of all, do you think that it’s different for actresses than for actors—that women have to be more guarded about what they do and what they don’t do than men?
KUNIS: I do. I think that an actor is more likely to be forgiven in the public’s eye than an actress.
KUNIS: I don’t know. I think there will always be a double standard between males and females, so I think that an actress is more likely to protect her public persona, so to speak, than an actor would be. An actor goes crazy in a hotel room, gets trashed, throws a bench, breaks a window, and he is considered a rock star. An actress does that and she’s sent to rehab and is thought to have problems and issues and can’t get a job.
FRANCO: But what you’re talking about is off-screen behavior. What about on-screen behavior? Do you think that men and women are treated differently in terms of what they do on screen?
KUNIS: I think that it goes both ways. I think that when a person is insecure about who they are or who they want to be, then it translates on screen, and the choices they make are all about perception. If I’m not comfortable in my own skin or confident in who I am, then I’m going to pick parts based on how people are going to view them, not based on what I find challenging or entertaining. And I think that there are a lot of reasons to be insecure as an actress . . .
But I don’t really have a perception issue. I’ve been pretty good about being who I am in the public’s eye. I don’t necessarily put on an act when I go on Jay Leno or dress differently in public than I do in private. I’d like to think I’m the same person, more or less. So when it comes to picking parts, I do make an effort to choose parts that I want to do, and not necessarily parts someone else wants me to do, or parts that someone else is going to respond to.
I’ve said this before, but afterThat ’70s Show ended, I solely wanted do films that inspire me, and to work with people who make me better. I wanted to just surround myself with people who I think are better than I am, whether they’re actors or directors or producers, so that I could learn from them. And I think that’s pretty much what I’ve done. I think that if I hadn’t done it that way, then I would’ve just stunted myself.
FRANCO: Did you have to learn that? Or did it somehow click that you could do movies or take roles based on what you believed in rather than choosing roles that might be, quote-unquote, career choices?
KUNIS: Well, honestly, after doing a TV show for eight years and a cartoon for more than a decade, you are, financially speaking, in a very lucky position where you don’t have to work for the sake of working. And I decided to take advantage of that.
I don’t live lavishly, so it’s not like I have 20 assistants and travel privately and shop every day. I actually live a very mediocre lifestyle. [laughs] So I decided to step back and do things not just for the sake of doing them, but because I believe in them and I want to do them.
FRANCO: So why do you feel secure doing things that other actresses might not feel secure doing?
KUNIS: Because I really have no shame, James. Let’s just call a spade a spade. I think that certain things are funny and certain things are okay to make fun of—including myself. I think that you have to laugh at the absurdity of this entire industry and the absurdity of what it is we do. If I didn’t, I’d go crazy.