“I feel really good”
With a new baby, new movies and the same old awesomely outspoken attitude, Mila Kunis is, as she says herself, “knock on wood, very lucky.”
Mila Kunis like you’ve never seen her before
mila Kunis has spent her career upending conventions and clichés – in a sly, effortless way. That lame old adage about how women (especially young, pretty ones) aren’t funny? She’s been exploding it since she landed a breakthrough role, at 14, on That ’70s Show playing the wonderfully self-absorbed Jackie with the calls-it-like-she-sees-it air that has become her on-screen hallmark. As for the notion that child stars are destined for meltdowns, ill-equipped to transition into functioning adults? Mila, born in Ukraine, inherited a hustle gene from her workingclass immigrant parents and applied it to her own career, killing it not just in hit comedies ( Ted, Friends with Benefits) but prestige dramas ( Black Swan), too.
Now, at 33, having married her That ’70s Show co-star Ashton Kutcher, she’s building a family of her own: In October 2014 she gave birth to their daughter, Wyatt Isabelle, and in November last year, their second child, Dimitri Portwood, was born.
Spend time with her, which we did, and it’s clear that her desire to raise “open-minded little humans” has only strengthened her political convictions and made her even more unapologetically outspoken. This is a star who pulls no punches. It’s good to have you back, Mila.
glamour In 2012 you said you’d rather be in love and have a baby than a movie. Did you ever think you’d have to choose?
MILA I got – knock on wood – very lucky. But I did choose. I took a chunk of time off. If it were up to Ashton, we would have had kids much sooner. But I had contracts for films I had to do. And let me tell you, when I did get offers, I wouldn’t even flinch. I was like, “No, I’m pregnant.” “No, I have a baby.” I wasn’t ready to go back. I was so happy saying no that I knew it was the right decision.
Did you ever think, ‘Oh, I’ve said no so many times, they’re not going to call me anymore’?
I was OK with it. And I was like, “Whatever will happen will happen.” As an actor, you travel so much and it isn’t great for a marriage. And unless you and your partner are happy, your kids are never going to be happy. I ultimately started my production company, Orchard Farm Productions, so I have a nineto-five. I can’t not work. I don’t know what it’s like to not work; my family embedded that in me.
Your family left Ukraine when you were young. Despite their degrees and professions back home, they were working-class when they came to America. Did you feel their struggle?
No. I had no clue. I was so well protected.
What did they protect you from?
My parents went through hell and back. They came to America with suitcases, a family of seven and $250 (R3 200), and that’s it. For years, they worked full-time and went to university full-time. They would go to night school to learn English. My mom started working at Thrifty Car Rental as a box lady. That’s what she did until she learnt English. After that, she became a cashier.
My dad worked seven jobs. He painted a house. He delivered toilets, drove a cab, delivered pizzas. Ultimately, he owned cabs and my mom worked her way up to manager of a pharmacy; they bought a car and a condo. But growing up poor, I never missed out on anything. My parents did a beautiful job of not making me feel like I was less than any other kids.
Given your family, does it strike a chord when you see President Trump stoke anti-immigrant and anti-muslim-immigrant fears?
It’s even more than that. The whole Syrian-refugee thing – we came here on a religious-refugee visa, and I’m not going to blow this country up. I’m clearly paying taxes. I’m not taking anything away.
So the fact that people look at what’s happening and are like,
“They’re going to blow things up.” It saddens me how much fear we’ve instilled in ourselves. And going from there to the whole, “Hey, let’s build this wall between LA and Mexico…” I don’t even have to answer that one. There’s no point. It’s a really great sound bite. And it got him far. Nobody should be mad at him; we did it to ourselves. You came to America, learnt English and landed a big role at 14, then showed your unique range. Does it bug you that comedy is seen as less ‘artistic’ than dramas like Black Swan? It’s weird. It doesn’t matter if you’re pretend-crying or pretend-laughing, you’re still pretending. It’s equally as hard or easy. It’s not like, “Oh man, I’m doing a movie where I have to cry, that means I’m working really hard.” Before you had Wyatt, you said, “I love women who say, ‘I hate my child right now.’ It lets you know you aren’t alone in your feelings.” To pay it forward, which tough things about parenting did no one tell you? Children are so crazy. Like, at the park, some jungle gyms have openings for older kids to jump out of. She’s two years old; she can’t jump. She just walks off it as if she’s on a pirate ship.
Another important thing to learn is that kids have a personality that has nothing to do with you. I have a really sweet daughter. She wants to hug all the other kids. I didn’t teach her to be sweet. It has nothing to do with me. I’ve realised you can control only so much.
You met Ashton on That ’70s Show 20 years ago. What does it give the relationship to have gone through that together? We can’t lie to each other. I literally can’t lie to him. He can call me out on everything, and I can do the same, because there’s nothing about the other person’s face that we don’t
know. We know when they are acting, thus we know when they are lying. Sometimes he’ll look at me, be like, “Really?” And I’m like, “Oh, no!” You know every gesture, every facial tic.
Uh-huh. There’s nothing we don’t know about each other because we’ve known each other for so long: the ugly, the bad, the good. We went through a period where I thought he was crazy. At the height of his career, I was like, “Ugh, I don’t like you. I don’t even know you anymore. You think you’re such hot stuff.” You had breakups when you weren’t even together?
Yes, fully. Full friendship breakups. And then we’d get back together and be like, “Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to overreact.” “That’s OK.” All the time. It truly is being married to your best friend. That’s a cliché; it’s cheesy. But it’s true.