INT: Kutcher & Smart
Not many people know this, but before celebrity boy toy Ashton Kutcher became famous for his love of trucker hats and forty-something divorcés, he was actually known for his work as a comedic actor. With his new movie THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, Kutcher looks to branch out into drama. This Friday, audiences will decide: will Ashton follow in the footsteps of comedy-to-drama success stories Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey, or did he just get punkd by his agent?
Amy Smart, the hot chick from ROAD TRIP, stars as Kutchers childhood girlfriend. Like Ashton, she also gets a chance to showcase her skills, playing a variety of characters including a vapid sorority girl and a heroine junkie hooker. Amazingly, she manages to be equally frightening in both roles. Talk about range. The two of them joined me at Four Seasons in Beverly Hills to talk about their new film, opening this Friday. You can also enter our BUTTERFLY EFFECT contest here.
What attracted you to the script?
Amy: The script was an original story, well written. It was so fascinating. It definitely affected me when I read it. And it was the greatest challenge Id seen yet, as and actor to do. That is what initially drew me to it.
Ashton: I thought that it was kind of a fantastic metaphor for life, and pretty enlightening. I also spoke with the directors before I decided to sign on. And they had a really clear, concise vision of what they wanted to do stylistically, and what they wanted from the story. And the opportunity to play a character thats blind to the trauma that takes place in his life. The violence in the movie I thought was a fantastic metaphor for how blind we are as a society, and as a people, to the things that actually do happen on a day to day basis, and how we kind of just block them out. And whether it be through our media or whatever, we go Oh, its not happening in my world, so its not happening. In the movie theres a great representation of the violence with the kids, and the pedophilia, and these kind of things that the guys could have taken the easy road, and you know, kind of squeamishly cut around, but they werent afraid of it.
The movie takes place in several alternate realities. Which was the hardest reality in the movie to play?
Amy: I worked on all the realities a lot, but I think the most gratifying for me was really the one with the heroine junkie prostitute because it was something that I really had to dive into and just go there and be 100 percent committed to it. I did a lot of work on that, and we actually went to go see the behavior in this little section of Vancouver thats like the highest populated heroine using section in all of Northern America because of the port from Asia. So we got to witness a lot of really messed up people, and their body language.
Ashton: I would say the most difficult reality was the first one because that was the base character and really getting the base character, and understanding the psychology behind a person that has blacked out the traumatic moments in his life, becomes a person thats hiding the most. Thats why I decided to wear facial hair, and actually getting to that character helped me understand really who this guy was, and that hes really trying to hide who he really is behind, whether its facial hair, or his mannerisms, very internal human being. And so finding that guy was the most difficult, and the other ones were just adaptations of that.
Is there a particular actor that you aspire to be like?
Amy: I definitely started off loving Meryl Streep and Susan Sarandon, and then it started to broaden quite a lot and now I really appreciate a lot of the young actresses out right now. Im totally blown away by Maggie Gyllenhaal and her performance in SECRETARY, I think its an incredible movie. I love Emily Watson in HILARY AND JACKIE and BREAKING THE WAVES. I love Toni Collete in MURIEL'S WEDDING. I mean, theres so many different, wonderful performances that keep me inspired constantly.
Ashton: Kirk Cameron. When I was a kid I wanted to be Mike Seaver. Its true. Im not kidding. That was the pinnacle of an acting career as far as I was concerned. And then, I would say now I appreciate performances from everyone that actually has the guts to try. And I dont want to be like anyone else, because Im never going to be able to do it as good as they are so Im going to go my own road.
How does the recognition that youre getting because of your personal life affect you?
Ashton: Its funny because actually, I did Saturday Night Live before I ever met Demi, I did the cover of Rolling Stone before I ever met Demi, and all of that kind of hit right at the same time. So Saturday Night Live came out, the cover of Rolling Stone came out, Punkd really started getting mass media attention, and then I met Demi, and we started, you know, spending time together, which got more attention even yet. And also I had made acquaintances with the young man, Sean Combs. And that all happened before I met Demi. Then I met Demi, and I started getting followed all over the place. Do I rejoice in the fact that I cant leave my house without being followed? Um, no. I dont think that anyone would like that. Its a little creepy. But I wouldnt have it go away, because if it went away, I wouldnt be in the position that I am right now, you know what? I would have it go away, if I could still be in the position I am right now.
Is Punkd over?
Ashton: I started Punkd after we did THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, and then I decided to end it before we did the press junket. You know what it is? You keep it new or its through. And I felt like, you know, the format of the show, weve done it. Weve seen it. You know, weve done a bunch of different people, and if it wasnt going to be new, I didnt want to do it. And I get bored really, really quickly, and I think that theres other things that we can do. And you have to remember, the MTV audience is an extremely fickle audience. And they like things for this long, and then they find the next cool thing that exists. Thats how that place works. So if you cant change it, and make it new, and make it different, and make it the new hot thing, dont do it, because youre going to fall off the cliff.
What was it about this movie that made you choose this dramatic role?
Ashton: We made the movie for 9 million dollars. So the risk of making a 9 million dollar movie isnt as great. Youre not sitting in there with 40 million dollars on your shoulders. I didnt know if people were going to accept me as a dramatic actor. I still dont. Well see in a couple weeks. I felt like I could do it, and I felt like I could do it well. I felt like I could play the character. I felt like it was a difficult character to play, and I felt like I could get it, without taking a gigantic risk financially for some company and then failing, and then having them go, Oh, well he cant do dramas. If the movie makes 30 million dollars, this movies been a huge success. Its a success for the company, they get their money back, and I get to be introduced in a different format, in a different genre.
Were you nervous about working with first time directors?
Ashton: Very nervous. I was really, really freaked out. And they were awesome. They were really accepting, they let me try anything I wanted to try, and they told me when I sucked, which is the best thing a director can do.
If you could change anything about your past or present, what would you change?
Amy: I think that as you get older, you learn to live in yourself more securely, and become more confident, and sure of who you are, and I think that life is about growth. And you continue to grow and progress, hopefully, so I think in the past, you know you go through your insecurity stages, and not feeling good enough, or accepted or whatever, and to know that now, and to probably go back would have been pretty cool.
Ashton: I think that we can change our past. I truly believe that, and I believe that it happens now. I think this is the lesson of the movie. The actions that we make in our present life have the ability to change our past. If you have a relationship thats unmended from your past, the opportunitys right now to go back and fix that. And I think that I wouldnt change anything other than the things that Im actively changing.
What about Britneys marriage?
Ashton: I still dont even know whats going on with that. I called her two days ago and I havent heard back from her yet. So I don't know. I have no knowledge of whats going on with that at all.
What projects do you have planned for the future?
Ashton: MY NEW BEST FRIEND. Theres a show in the UK, called My New Best Friend. And it just won the comedy awards in the UK. Thats were we got the idea from. If you watch it, youll get it. And for the future we have another show that were doing called SNAFU that were working on with MTV. We have a pilot that were trying to get made, that actually Eric and John wrote thats for Fox. Im producing this uh, well call it THE DINNER PARTY, which is a film that I believe Im going to do with Bernie Mac, and theres a couple other things that Im trying to figure out right now.
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