INT: Jason Bateman & Mila Kunis
I’ve always been a little jealous of Jason Bateman. He’s a good looking fellow and he is also an incredibly talented actor. And worst of all, he did a series with one of my first crushes, Caren Kaye, who appeared naked in the classic teen sex flick MY TUTOR. Okay, maybe it is not a classic, but I stayed up many a night to catch it on cable. And here Jason is working with her on “It’s Your Move." Since then he has done a number of television and film roles including his wonderful work on “Arrested Development." Since this interview it seems that the idea of an ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT movie is getting closer to reality. But he has kept himself busy since the series ended with roles in JUNO, HANCOCK and now EXTRACT.
As for Mila Kunis, I have to say that I wasn’t terribly familiar with her work aside from watching “That 70’s Show” a couple of times. I liked her from what I saw in the sitcom but it wasn’t until FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL that I was stunned. Her performance in that film is absolutely perfect. I was so utterly taken with her that I’ll say it right here and now… Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination! That performance is so full of life, colorful and vibrant. Too often comedies are not given the respect they deserve when it comes time for award season. But seriously, look at what she accomplished there. It is a beautiful performance that just gets better and better with each additional watch. Sadly, I didn’t get to see her at work on this particular day in EXTRACT.
But I did get to see Jason, and he really is hilarious. And truth be told, this was one of the nicest set visits I’ve had the pleasure to do. And when I stopped by Jason’s trailer to talk with him and Mila, I had to explain to him my envy of his Caren Kaye connection. He had not witnessed the beauty of Caren in MY TUTOR, but once I mentioned it, the three of us took a look online to find video and/or pictures of the actress. It was an interesting start to a extremely fun interview with two very talented, and really cool folk.
Jason Bateman and Mila Kunis
First off, Jason I have an issue with you.
Jason Bateman: I’ll tell you right off, I go to your site.
Do you really?
JB: I love the graphics.
Thank you. I love it too. But I gotta tell you, when I was a kid, I had a huge crush on Caren Kaye in MY TUTOR.
JB: Wow. I’ve never seen that.
Really? I loved that movie dude, you have to see it.
JB: She showed her…
Yes, she showed everything in it.
JB: No! Really?
Yeah, I think so… although it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it.
JB: It’s so weird that I had like this instinct never to watch it because she was my mom [in “It’s Your Move”].
That’s exactly it… you got to work with her everyday dude! I was so envious. I hated you because you got to work with Caren Kaye.
JB: I bet we’ve got a still of it. [He begins to search on his laptop]
You really never wanted to see it since?
JB: Well, I was in love with Tricia Cast, the one that played my sister.
JB: Well not in “love” but I thought she was cute.
[As we watch a tribute to Caren Kaye on YouTube]
JB: It’s shot and lit like a porno.
It’s basically like those movies from that era, PRIVATES SCHOOL, PORKY’S… Mila did you ever watch any of those?
Mila Kunis: Ah, I’d never seen this one [MY TUTOR].
You’re missing out.
MK: I’d never even heard of this one but now I can’t wait to see it.
I dug it then… you know, Matt Lattanzi, Caren Kaye…
MK: And Jason…
Nah, he wasn’t in it. He did a series called “It’s Your Move” with Caren. And she was a mom.
[The video continues to play]
See, they’re cutting it out.
JB: Is that where it happens?
Yeah, one of the times.
[The video ends and there is barely a butt shot of Caren Kaye… our search was futile]
Now, I gotta say how nice it is to see you both involved with a Mike Judge movie. Were you fans of his before this?
JB: I was.
JB: I like that he has a pretty, sort of lo-fi sense of humor and esthetic. And there is a lot of uncomfortable silences. It’s somewhat British actually. My mother’s British so that was sort of my sense of humor growing up. It was sort of sarcasm and silence and above all else, don’t embarrass yourself. There is a lot of that, sort of awkwardness [about it]. It’s a bit like Christopher Guest. And as I’m sure Mila does too, she gets a lot of scripts that are more funny but usually the funny script is broad. There is not a lot of trust, I’ve found in scripts that are subtly funny. Ones that rely on characters as opposed to set pieces. Literally a pie in the face. I mean, granted, this thing hinges around a guy losing a testicle, but there is something kind of fresh in the major plot turn of this as opposed to a sight gag. So that is how I kind of approached it and luckily for me, I was right in guessing that was the tone of the movie.
I was watching your performance, as was Mila and we were both laughing hysterically at your… ‘Shut it!’ line. And with Mike directing, he seems to have a way with you guys that isn’t imposing. Am I getting a good sense of that?
MK: Yeah, pretty much. He is very easy going. I think it is because he end up hiring people he trusts…
JB: Yeah, he is pretty specific about who he wants for what part. And the result of that is he doesn’t have to do much, except just kind of let you do what you essentially would do. In other words, he doesn’t have to sort of wedge you into what he would like you to do because that person does their job. Maybe it’s just laziness [Laughing]. He just likes to sit there and pretend he’s watching T.V….
Now let’s talk about your characters, because I’m obviously coming in with no prior knowledge of the film, starting with you Mila, who do you play? Because you haven’t been talking that much [Laughing].
MK: That’s why I like doing two to one interviews because I can just sit back and enjoy.
No, I’m making you talk [Laughing].
MK: Jeez… I hate it… okay… Who do I play? I play a girl named Cindy who is like a lost soul. She’s a pathological liar/kleptomaniac. And she finds out that this guy at the factory lost one of his balls [Laughing]. So she decides to get a job there in order to seduce him and make him get a lawyer to sue the company for a million dollars. So then, Jason’s character wants to schtupp her so he hires a gigolo to seduce his wife and hilarity ensues. Go ahead Jas…
JB: Yeah, that’s basically it. It is pretty much, sort of small town people, small town problems. You know, there is questions of infidelity. My character is a guy who is sort of the classic protagonist, you know, he doesn’t really take life by the horns and he’s usually getting stuck by them. And he tries to do something kind of pro-active for once and it ends up biting him in the ass. So that is basically what happens, you know, I try and take a little initiative and it ends up biting me. It’s a victim comedy…
MK: But you’ll love Jason. If a person wasn’t in love with him before… his character is so endearing, and so sad that it is just the sweetest thing on the planet.
JB: [Looking at my recorder] You getting this?
Yeah, definitely. I do have to say though man, your work has really taken off with “Arrested Development”, you’ve had a very impressive career.
JB: If there has ever been an example of every actor being just one job away from grabbing some relevancy, it’s that, you know. Things were pretty quiet, and then, you know, along comes that show. I would have done half as good but that is the one I ended up getting. And luckily it was seen by people who were handing out some jobs, so its worked out well so far. But you know, everybody knows, it could be gone in a few months so just try not to f*ck it up, and pick good things if you’re lucky enough to be able to pick. I mean, I’ve been at it a long time and only in the last three years have I been able to actually make choices, where things actually conflict, schedule wise.
All the way back to “Silver Spoons”… and you’ve been at this for awhile too right? How long?
MK: Sixteen years.
How hard was it for you to get past “The 70’s Show”?
MK: It’s not that it was difficult, its just that I started the show when I was fourteen. And I don’t think I understood what I was getting myself into. And then I wanted to quit and go to college. And then when I was like nineteen, I made a conscious decision to continue. The show wrapped when I was twenty two, so twenty three I did FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL. And that I think really changed everything. Because after 70’s, I had all the T.V. offers in the world. But fighting for film became impossible because people just… you had to go in and prove yourself. And so when I went in for KNOCKED UP, it just didn’t work out timing wise. And then SARAH MARSHALL came around. I think the fact that Judd [Apatow] trusted me enough to not belittle audiences who can’t see me outside of T.V. It was great. So I was very lucky. I would say my span was maybe nine months of trying to figure out what to do. And then Sarah Marshall came around. So I owe a lot to Judd.
Let me know what you think? Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@JoBlo.com.