A Lot Like Love: An Interview with Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet
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By Todd Gilchrist
In the span of less than a month, Ashton Kutcher has two completely different projects aimed at movie theaters nationwide. The first was "Guess Who", his modern-day reworking of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" which costarred Bernie Mac; and the second is the forthcoming romantic comedy "A Lot Like Love", where he stars with Amanda Peet as a pair of star-crossed lovers who can't seem to get the planets in proper alignment. Kutcher and Peet recently sat down together to discuss the upcoming project with blackfilm.com, and fielded a few questions about their own lot-like-love lives at the same time.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO WORK WITH AMANDA PEET?
KUTCHER: We actually read an actress in Los Angeles, and it was last minute.
PEET: You read 20 people. You can tell the truth.
KUTCHER: No. We read one other actresses and the chemistry wasn't just right. We were searching for the right person. We wanted someone who had the combination to be vulnerable, but also to be funny. I've seen Amanda and she's really, really funny. She's beautiful and funny and able to be vulnerable.
DID YOU IDENTIFY AT ALL WITH YOUR CHARACTER?
PEET: Well, I grew up in New York and I went through a big kind of, I don't know if I'd call it a Goth phase. I (thought I) was a hipster kind of artsy person, but I wasn't really. I was really kind of a prude in high school and I did my home work and I went to college. I was pretty normal. But I identified with her kind of 'I'm a special, artsy, tough girl' kind of thing.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE NUDE SCENE? WAS THAT JUST ANOTHER DAY ON THE SET FOR YOU GUYS OR WHAT?
KUTCHER: I like being nude as often I can. (jokes) As much as I can be nude I try to be nude. No. It's really not that great for me. For other people, I like them being nude, but not me so much. It's this awkward thing and you're completely exposed. I had this banana thong with like a catcher's mitt to wear. It was a little awkward.
PEET: We were about halfway through the shoot when we had to do that.
KUTCHER: I think that we were both so insecure about ourselves that we weren't really looking at anyone else. We were on a soundstage and we weren't actually outside. So I think that kind of helped because it's a little bit more private.
EVER THOUGHT ABOUT HAVING SEX ON AN AIRPLANE?
KUTCHER: I've done it in another movie. I don't know why, but for some reason people fancy me having sex (on bathroom planes). So I was really comfortable with that.
HAVE YOU TRIED IT ON A PLANE?
KUTCHER: I tried it once. I didn't actually get into the restroom. We were both sitting there and I got up and went over to there, and it was weird trying to get two people in there and there was like a moron convention going on around the bathroom door. So there was no opportune moment. It was like, 'Everyone just go to sleep on the plane!' No one would go to sleep.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SET THE MOOD?
KUTCHER: I'm not like a mood guy. I'm pretty shy about this whole conversation. I'm not going to get into it.
WHAT'S YOUR WHOLE TAKE ON THE WHOLE LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT THING THAT'S IN THE FILM?
PEET: I guess I certainly don't believe in love at first sight. I definitely believe in a lot of chemistry and lust at first sight. But I think that love is something that takes work. As you can see in the movie I think that timing, timing is everything. Those people have to be ready and open and I think that's sort of what the movie is about.
WHAT ABOUT THE ROYALS AND THEIR LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT STORY?
PEET: I don't know. Was Camilla his first love?
KUTCHER: Even through the entire marriage. The whole time really.
PEET: It's actually quite sweet. I feel badly that£–|
KUTCHER: It's such a cool tourist attraction. No, it's really cool. They were getting it on the whole time apparently. That's what I heard.
PEET: I feel badly for Camilla.
KUTCHER: Cornwall doesn't want her either. It's a whole thing.
PEET: It's so terrible.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS CHARACTER WAS A UNIQUE ONE FOR YOU?
KUTCHER: Well, yes. Every character that I do I try to make different, but I'm just not successful most of the time. I think that every character is unique in it's own way. I think that more so than the script told me that, I think that Nigel [Cole] like that. I mean, just watch 'Calendar Girls' and looking at what he did that. I think that knowing that I was working with people who had more experience and experience in a different way and better than I am, your game rises, it gets elevated to everyone else's.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE APPEAL OF THIS CHARACTER?
KUTCHER: I think that the appeal of Oliver is that he's relatable. I think that guys in general feel like they have to attain a certain personal status in their mind before they can be in a relationship like, 'I'm not who I am yet. But I'm going to be who I am as soon as I get this and this and this. Then I don't have to worry about trading up.' It's like, 'Right now I'm at this level and so I can get this kind of girl. And then when I get here I'm going to trade up and so why even go through it. Just wait until I get there.' The truth is that you're never there, but you're always there. I think that's a very relatable place for guys.
HOW MUCH OF THE CHARACTER IS YOU?
KUTCHER: There is a definite separation from your character. It's not you. The only thing that you're really bringing that is of yourself is your sense memory and your physicality.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WORKING WITH NIGEL AND HIM COMPLIMENTING YOU? HE SAID YOU REMINDED HIM OF CARY GRANT.
KUTCHER: I can't thank him enough for saying something that kind. I don't know. For me it's hard to say because I can't take an outside perspective of my career or my life because I just live it. I have no idea. Someone will find some other category to try to put me in. 'Well, it's still comedy and so it's not a different character. He's still just being funny.' People always want to shuffle you into some category no matter what you're doing.
AMANDA, DID YOU EVER HAVE TO LIVE OUT OF YOUR CAR LIKE YOUR CHARACTER?
PEET: No. I came here to do a television show and so I was lucky enough to have an apartment. I was struggling, but I was struggling out of an apartment.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE RULES THAT YOU HAVE FOR GUYS?
KUTCHER: I know them.
PEET: Well, I think that Ashton thinks that I do, but I try not to plan too much. If by rules you mean don't go call back until the third day and don't go to second base until you've had a second date and blah, blah, blah, no. I think that you have to try and not plan too much. Yeah. Just let it happen.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR CHARACTER WAS HARD AROUND THE EDGES?
PEET: I think that it's just an age thing. I think that probably the younger you are the more interested you are in having some sort of persona of coolness. There are people out there who've had some kind of loss or have been abandoned by a parent, who are afraid to be vulnerable and don't know what to say to people like Aston's character. They prefer something that's harder to get because it makes them feel safer. I think that she's probably like that. I think she likes him despite herself and I think that's a great recipe for a romantic comedy or at least when you have the right co-star. I had that in spades. It's nice because it's a kind of old fashioned romantic comedy where one of them attracts the other one. I think that's what we were trying to achieve and I guess that when we auditioned with each other we fell in love with each other or I fell in love with Ashton.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 'A LOT LIKE LOVE ' AND LOVE?
KUTCHER: Wow. That's a difficult question for me because I'm somewhat of a love cynic in that I don't know if it's truly like a hundred percent attainable everyday in the human form. But I think that to me love is when your desire for someone else is greater than your desire for yourself or equal to that. That's a very tricky thing to attain. I think that a lot like love is what most of us call love.
PEET: Yeah. I think that the idea of the movie is that it is real love and was strong from the get go. The only difference is the ability to talk around and around it or dance around and around it, tell each other that the timing isn't right or that you're moving to San Francisco or that you need to do A, B and C before I commit to you. But really if the thing is there it's there and that's what the movie is about.
DO YOU THINK THAT YOU FELT YOU HAD TO BE AT A CERTAIN POINT BEFORE YOU COULD COMMIT TO ANYTHING LIKE YOUR CHARACTER?
KUTCHER: Oh yeah, that was the relatable quality of the character for me. You kind of always set these bars for yourself of like where you need to be in life before you can commit to doing other things. And you kind of create this illusion for yourself that you can't possibly have both. 'If I'm investing this amount of time in this, there's not enough hours in the day to do this as well.' And then what you ultimately find out is if you do that this is going to fall apart because you have to have that balance. I think that with my career I for sure in a lot of ways did that and was unkind to people as a result. I don't think that I was fair to people and I think that I made really poor judgments in a lot of things and went driving for this career goal that could've exist and coincide with love.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT IT'S LIKE TO HAVE THE SUCCESS THAT YOU'VE ACHIEVED AND WHAT'S THAT'S DONE FOR WHO YOU ARE?
KUTCHER: Yeah. It's weird. I think that every time I have a movie come out that's successful or a show come out that's successful is kind of like a dream coming true. In a way when dreams come true more than once we start to call them reality and now it's become like that. It's like I'm going, 'Wait a second. I'm there. I don't have to keep driving myself crazy about this thing.' It was more of like a dream. What I'm doing now never seemed like it was something that was possible. Like, 'Why would anyone want to listen to me. Why am I sitting in front of the microphone.' I'd always gone to the party and felt like the butler for my whole life.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE MISCONCEPTIONS THAT THERE ARE OUT THERE ABOUT YOU AND IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU'VE CHANGED LATELY BECAUSE OF YOUR RELIGION?
KUTCHER: I try not to A) have religious beliefs. That would be the first misconception. For me, religiosity is doing things because other people say that this is some thing that will make your life better. Spirituality is doing things and then seeing the results and then believing in them. I don't know that I've specifically changed that like, 'Oh, let me kneel four times and say this phrase twenty times and now my life will be better.' I don't buy that at all. I think that the biggest change is that I think that I'm slowly trying to remove my ego from my life and by doing that I think that I become a better person.
WHAT'S THE CRAZIEST THING THAT YOU'VE DONE FOR LOVE?
KUTCHER: You go first because I'm thinking.
PEET: I think that it's more than I've probably tried to insinuate myself or make a move at the wrong time. I've thrown pebbles at someone's window. I've gone after them or made a move when I know that I'm going to announce that I love them like when they've moved on or when there's another woman in the picture [Laughs].
KUTCHER: Boy, have I done some things. I don't if I've done things that have been crazy or absurd. I think that I've put some great effort into certain situations to impress. But I wouldn't call any of that crazy because I think that those are like the greatest things that we get to do in life. For me, one of the craziest things was that I was in Canada shooting a film and had started a relationship with someone, a long distance one with someone back in the states, and I flew in to Los Angeles for thirty minutes to see a person and then flew back out to Canada. I had a 30-minute window where I could see them. And they weren't there. They showed up with about fifteen minutes to go. And then I had my 15 minutes and I was gone.
DID YOU ACTUALLY GET PUNK'D BY JOHN EDWARDS?
KUTCHER: Well, it was sort of a Punk, but it sort of wasn't because it was real. I was campaigning in Minnesota and we were flying back to Iowa I think to do another thing. I was riding on his like Air Force One jet that they have with all the press in the back of the plane and John has his cushy area in front and the secret service is there. We were getting off of the plane and it was very, very strict with luggage checks and things, and they were actually checking luggage on the tarmac. And one of the secret service guys goes, 'Go ahead.' So I get on the plane and one of the secret service guys comes up to me and says, 'Is that your grey bag out there?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Is there any need for you to be carrying a firearm?' I said, 'No.' I'm immediately began going, 'I was speaking at an engagement and so I haven't had my bag.' He said, 'Well, you weren't hunting or anything like that?' I said, 'Why would I be hunting?!' He said, 'Well, we're going to have to detonate your bag on the runway.' I was like, 'Are you kidding?' I was like, 'Detonate it! I'm not trying to kill anyone, I promise. Detonate it. Do it! Please. I don't want it on the plane either.' Then they were like, 'You just got Punk'd.' I was like, 'That's not even fair. You're like actual Secret Service. You're not an actor. That doesn't count.' But they had a video camera taping it from the press place in the back. I'm trying to confiscate the videotape.
AMANDA, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR FASHION SENSE?
PEET: I love fashion. I think that it's fun. I think that it's part of the business, the glamour and getting dressed up and going to do these things. It probably fulfills some kind of adolescent fantasy of prom or something like that, getting dressed up and that's probably part of why I like it. ASHTON, WHY DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR RESTAURANT INVESTMENTS HAVE TAKEN OFF?
KUTCHER: I don't know. I'm just an investor. I think that it's really good management and good food. I think that they did a very select job of choosing investors that they could get free promotion from and I think that that was really smart and a good one for them.
DO YOU GET A DISCOUNT?
KUTCHER: Yes. I get a discount.
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