As a child, Evan was urged by a psychologist to keep journals detailing his daily life. As an adult seeking the cause of his memory problems, Evan breaks open those childhood journals and inexplicably finds himself capable of traveling back in time to relive those events. Believing this power of time travel will allow him to heal wounds suffered by those close to him decades ago, Evan goes back in time to change his past.
Ashton Kutcher sat down with his onscreen love interest, Amy Smart, to analyze "The Butterfly Effect," a sci-fi drama that marks a drastic departure from Kutcher's normal comedy fare.
What attracted you to The Butterfly Effect?
Amy Smart: I know what attracted me was, first of all, the script was an original story [and] well written. It was so fascinating. It definitely affected me when I read it. And it was the greatest challenge I'd seen yet, as an actor, to do. That is what initially drew me to it.
Ashton Kutcher: This script, when I got it, it was in the form that we shot it for the most part. We changed the ending a little bit, but it was pretty much there. 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. They had a really clear, concise vision of what they wanted to do stylistically, and what they wanted from the story. The opportunity to play a character that's blind to the trauma that takes place in his life, and then the violence that is 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, it's not happening in my world, so it's not happening. In the movie there's a great representation of the violence with the kids, and the pedophilia, and these kinds of things. The guys could have taken the easy road, and you know, kind of squeamishly cut around, but they weren't afraid of it.
The movie deals with multiple versions of reality. Which was the hardest reality to play?
Amy Smart: 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. We actually went to go see the behavior in this little section of Vancouver that's like the highest populated heroine using section in all of Northern America because of the port from Asia. We got to witness a lot of really messed up people.
Ashton Kutcher: I would say the most difficult reality was the first one because that was the base character. Really getting the base character, and understanding the psychology behind a person that has blacked out the traumatic moments in his life, [he] becomes a person that's hiding the most. That's why I decided to wear facial hair. Actually getting to that character helped me understand really who this guy was, and that he's really trying to hide who he really is behind, whether it's facial hair, or his mannerisms. [Hes a] very internal human being so finding that guy was the most difficult. The other ones were just adaptations of that.
What was it about this movie that made you choose this dramatic role?
Ashton Kutcher: We made the movie for $9 million so the risk of making a $9 million movie isn't as great. You're not sitting in there with $40 million on your shoulders. I didn't know if people were going to accept me as a dramatic actor. I still don't. 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 can't do dramas. If the movie financially makes $30 million, this movie's been a huge success. It's 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 working with first time directors?
Ashton Kutcher: Very nervous. I was really, really freaked out, and nervous. 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.