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Mila Kunis: “They build you up just to knock you down”

August 24, 2011

Ms. Kunis, would you call yourself a perfectionist?

That’s the thing where I think I fail in life; I’m not looking for perfection. I don’t think it’s achievable; I think it is impossible to achieve perfection. If you are six feet under you are still six feet under. You can have everything in the world that you consider as perfect but you are still going to be six feet under. So I don’t think that there is such a thing as perfection.

Is that a problem in Hollywood, the pursuit of perfection? So many girls at your age try exactly that: to be and to look perfect.

It is really sad, because it’s true. Everybody is starting to look the same. It is bizarre how everyone has the same facial features now. One person dyes her hair brown, everybody dyes her hair brown. I think people lose all sense of themselves. It’s unfortunate.

Is that something the entertainment and fashion world caused itself?

I don’t know what caused it, I don’t know what came first: the chicken or the egg, but something caused it. I don’t know if it’s the covers of the magazines where you see the most perfect, most beautiful people. The sad thing is that it is all photoshopped. There is no such thing as perfection. What I consider beautiful, most likely you don’t. That doesn’t mean that I am right and you are wrong, it’s just a difference of opinion.

But you also lost a lot of weight when you got an important part in Black Swan. You suddenly looked very skinny.

And you said it: it was for the part. It was much easier gaining the weight back. (Laughs)

Didn’t you like being so skinny?

No, it was disgusting. I looked like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. People would hug me and panic. I hated being that skinny in real life so I wore big sweaters and baggy clothes. People who hadn’t seen me for a while would come in for a hug and get all freaked out. I saw them feeling me. I got a lot of, “Are you okay?” and “Do we need to talk?” I always said, “I’m fine, it’s just temporary.” I must have looked so scary thin. My arms were just so little. It was gross.

Is Hollywood very competitive among girls your age?

It is and it isn’t. It is competitive but it is also all based on opinion. I can go in and the first director might think I am a horrible actress and the next director might think I am great. All a matter of opinion. That is the sad thing, there is no right and wrong, there is no 2 + 2 = 4. Not at all. You can be the greatest actress and you will never get a job.

You were born in Ukraine and moved to LA in 1991. Do you consider yourself American or do you also see certain elements of your personality that are very Ukrainian?

I think I am pretty American – I am very Westernized, let me put it that way – but I do believe that the older I get the more I realize that I have a very European background to me, whatever that means. But I am very much LA. I was raised since second grade in Los Angeles, but what my parents instilled in me was very different from what my friends grew up knowing. But I think the older I get the more I realize it.

Was it difficult to adjust back then?

Yes. But luckily if you are seven or eight years old you don’t really know consequences. So you don’t really understand that if you do this, that will happen, because there is no concept of that. So you kind of just throw yourself in. As a kid you kind of just do it without even understanding what you are doing. I learned English by accident, by just being rather than studying. It works when you are little. Kids are great, they have no fear.

Did you want to become an actress from very early on?

No. Not at all. At one point I wanted to be a teacher, at one point I wanted to be a doctor but then I realized that I don’t like blood. Then I wanted to deliver babies until I realized that there is a bit more involved than just the delivery process. I thought for a while that babies just appear, you know. (Laughs) I wanted to be everything and anything – except acting.

So how did you end up with this profession?

Purely by accident. Very organically. I was nine years old and I met my manager, who is my manager to this day, and it was a hobby; it was something I did after school and something that got me out of school sometimes – which was a big plus. It was fantastic. I got to go play and pretend and then I didn’t have to go to school. I was 21 or 22 when I decided that this could be my career. So when I decided to make it my career everything changed.

Was there ever a danger that you could lose yourself?

I’ve been doing this for so long that I’ve seen a lot of people who lost themselves. The theory says that you only learn from your own mistakes. It’s life. But when it comes to this industry I tell you this much: I really, truly believe in learning from other people’s mistakes.

So what is the greatest lesson you learned from someone else’s mistake?

One? There is a whole list. Everything and anything. In this industry you have to be constantly aware of your surroundings and be aware that they build you up just to knock you down. I really do believe that, because it creates better stories. It’s not enough talking about how great somebody is – it doesn’t sell. What sells is talking about somebody’s downfall. I think the greatest lesson I learned is to keep my private life private. And I will fight for that forever and ever. That is my lesson.

It must be difficult for you because you are exactly the target group the outlets are aiming at.

Yeah, but I will never talk about things. There are certain things that I will never discuss. I don’t care if that makes me not the nicest person. I will discuss any film I have done, I will discuss anybody I have worked with, I will discuss politics if you need me to – I will discuss anything and everything under the sun, but I will not discuss my personal life.

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Short Profile

Name: Milena Markovna Kunis
DOB: 14 August 1983
Place of Birth: Chernivtsi, Ukraine, Soviet Union
Occupation: Actress

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5 Responses to this Interview

  1. Smart girl. like her.

  2. I find her completely insufferable and will never understand her appeal (aside from physical appearance cus she’s pretty damn hot).

  3. she’s completely the opposite of what you’d expect really. She’s just a completely normal human being. I think she’s great and she’s such a better role model than some of the actresses you see today.

  4. She’s naturally beautiful, intelligent and what I really like about her personality is that she comes across as a genuinely open minded and non judgemental person.

  5. Poor person to have to answer these meaningless questions! Why do women always have to answer these question about how the industry is so shallow and degrading to them? Or for ‘older’ actresses, how they feel about aging or botox (see interview with Julie Delpy). And what kind of question is ‘did you like being so skinny’? When actors like Tom Hanks or recently Matthew McConaughey lose weight for a role, do they get the question ‘did you like being so skinny’?

    This interview is just an reproduction of all the stereotypes and shallowness that it seems to want to criticize. Ask something else that might actually engage a reader on a more intellectual level. I’m sure this person Mila Kunis, like most people, have more intriguing and interesting things to talk about than perfection and how being skinny feels. She even says she can speak about politics, but nope, let’s not pick up on that. Who cares about her political view? I’m sure that would have more substance than anything else in this interview.

    If it’s hard to think of questions for women, take the same questions you use for men, and apply.

    Examples of good questions:
    - What is the most fun you’ve had making a movie? (see Christian Bale)
    - Do you get upset when you see a bad movie in the theater? (see Alexander Payne)
    - Film has an unparalleled power to influence culture. Does it bother you to see that power abused? (also Alexander Payne)

    Examples of horrible questions:
    - Ms. Rampling, have you ever thought about having plastic surgery?

    - Does getting older force you to swallow your pride? (Also Charlotte Rampling). Why not ask John Malkovich this? No, the question to John Malkovich is: Would you say that you are more at peace now than when you were younger?

    - How do you combine a very consuming career and motherhood? (See Meryl Streep. Note: who asks successful men how they combine a consuming career and fatherhood?)

    Please do it better next time and I’d love to come back and read every single thing on this site!

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