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Mila Kunis Talks About 'The Book of Eli'


Mila Kunis in The Book of Eli

Mila Kunis in 'The Book of Eli.'

© Warner Bros Pictures
Jan 12, 2010 - Mila Kunis may be best known for comedies (That '70s Show, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), but she can handle action scenes when she needs to. In Max Payne, Kunis played a Russian assassin. In The Book of Eli, directed by the Hughes brothers and starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman, Kunis plays a servant under Oldman's thumb who breaks free to go on a journey with Washington's character, Eli.

At the LA press day for Warner Bros' post-apocalyptic action thriller, Kunis talked about undertaking action scenes in The Book of Eli. The weather didn't exactly cooperate with the production, but they trudged through nonetheless. "The weather was a little bit complicated. The weather didn't know what it wanted to be. It was snowing one day and then wind the next day and then sunshine and rain," said Kunis, laughing. "I didn't really have many stunts. Denzel had most of the stunts. He ran a lot. Walking for me is hard enough and so running, I was like, 'Whew. This is going to be rough.'"

The set may have been pretty physically difficult to work on, and the subject matter is definitely dark, but Kunis says Gary Oldman kept the mood light. "I laughed a lot. I'll tell you that Gary Oldman is probably one of the funniest people that I've ever worked with," revealed Kunis. "Jennifer Beals and I created a song for Gary that I will not go into detail about..."

Prompted to disclose just a little detail, Kunis replied, "I'll tell you one of the lines: 'Gary is not so scary,' because everybody has this preconceived notion that Gary Oldman is going to be very scary. He's not. I mean, he is. Onscreen he's so powerful, but in real life he's one of the funniest. He cracks jokes left and right, just fun to be with."

Obviously, it wasn't the action scenes that drew Kunis into the project in the first place. "It was the Hughes brothers directing. Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman," explained Kunis. "It would've been pretty stupid to say no, and the character was great. Don't get me wrong. The story is great. The film is great. The character is fantastic, but it was also an amazing opportunity to work with people that I respect and can learn from."

Although Kunis was really interested in working with the directing team of Allen and Albert Hughes, she'd never worked on a project with two directors before. Fortunately, the brothers have a system down that allows them to collaborate and not overwhelm their actors. "Well, the brothers, yes, they kind of have such a weird thing," said Kunis. "They do work together and so it's not like you gravitate to one person or the other. But I guess Allen is who I dealt with earlier on a lot more when I got the job, regarding my character and the look of the character and the feel of the character. That was mostly Allen. But during production it was both of them."

And she's not the love interest, which is something different from the type of character she normally gets to play in films. Instead, she's Washington's sidekick - you could even consider her a follower - on part of his journey across the country to deliver a special one-of-a-kind book. "I think it makes sense because if you look at him he's so...based on the story he was sent here for a purpose. He had to achieve this one goal and everybody has to have followers. That's not the right way of putting it but ultimately [they need] people to believe in them. I think she was just one of those that followed him and believed in his journey and believed in his purpose and believed in what he wanted to achieve, and wanted to learn from him and pass it along to future generations. So I thought that was important," offered Kunis.

Life in a World Gone Mad

The action in The Book of Eli picks up 30 years after some horrific event has destroyed the planet. Supplies of everyday items are extremely limited, shampoo is a luxury item, and he who controls the water supply, controls the town. So, just how would Kunis hold up if she had to endure what her character does in this gritty, grungy new world? "I would fail. I would fail miserably. Resourceful? No. I would need Bear Grylls with me because I wouldn't know what to eat. I would eat that snake with the yellow tail because I wouldn't know it was poisonous. I'm not like a survivalist," confessed Kunis. "I'd like to think that I would be, but I wouldn't be."

However, between The Book of Eli and Max Payne Kunis did pick up some skills that would help her get by. "I can kick some serious ass, especially if I'm wearing five inch heels. It's amazing what I can do. I can throw a really strong right hook. I learned that from my Max Payne training, and I can shoot really well. That's it. I run. I can run really fast. So if anything happens, if an altercation occurs, I'd run."

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