When you think of young actors who are expert in the genre of drama, Mila Kunis's name isn't one of the first to come to mind. The dark-haired star is better known for her turns in comedies like That '70s Show (as Jackie Burkhart, a role she landed at the tender age of 14) and Forgetting Sarah Marshall—not to mention her ongoing stint as the voice of Meg Griffin on Family Guy. But this year she'll appear in two films that might change perceptions: In The Book of Eli, out Friday 15, Kunis joins a sword-wielding Denzel Washington on a violent journey across the wasteland of postapocalyptic America; and later this year, she'll costar with Natalie Portman in Darren Aronofsky's supernatural ballet flick, Black Swan. Even though we caught her after a grueling workday on the set of that film, she was perfectly charming when discussing the end of the world and her love of Star Trek.
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I'm not going to lie: The Book of Eli totally freaked me out.
Oh, I'm so happy you saw it! What'd you think?
It's interesting, but it's also really bleak and scary.
But it is optimistic; you have to believe that humanity can survive and prevail. I think you've gotta look at it optimistically, but the whole story isn't the most pleasant, I guess.
Your character, Solara, starts out as this kind of weak girl, but by the end of the movie she becomes a total badass.
She's pretty awesome, I have to say. The character is thrown into this situation that she's never been in, and she learns very quickly that it's fight or flight. She grows so drastically over what ends up being a five-day period, and it's believable.
Do you relate to her at all?
I think anyone can. She's all about truly seeing what the world has to offer, whether it's good or bad. I do relate to that; I mean, I've made mistakes, but I learn from them. Just not in a postapocalyptic world.
How do you think you'd fare if the apocalypse happened tomorrow?
Oh, miserably! Well, hold on; if I had Denzel Washington with his sword-fighting skills next to me, I think I'd be okay.
Let's assume you don't have that luxury.
I don't know. It's like being deserted on an island. I would hope that I would know what to do, and I would hope that my instincts would take over. But I don't think you actually know until you're in that position.
I read that you're getting banged up on the set of Black Swan.
Ballet training—that's the only thing you need to get beaten up. I've torn ligaments, dislocated a shoulder... But it's because I'm 26 years old, and I started doing something that a true ballerina takes 20 years to perfect. Your body tends to freak out. But I'm in the best shape of my entire life.
So you can totally mimic a professional ballerina now?
Well, it's exactly that: I can mimic it. You have to look at me from the waist up to, maybe, possibly, from the right angle, make it believable.
All the buzz over that film is about the sex scene between you and Natalie Portman; Internet fanboys are pretty much drooling on their keyboards over it.
If the only reason people go and see it is because of a rumor, they're going to see a very different movie. If people are paying attention to one simple thing [about the film], nobody is going to blame them. But I think that the movie as a whole is very different. Let them go and see it for whatever reason, but I think they'll walk out with a whole other perspective.
Another reason fanboys get excited might be that you identify as a Trekkie.
You can't ever not be a Trekkie. Once you've seen the whole series and every movie twice over in chronological order, you'll have a hard time denying it. I love Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
Do you consider yourself a geek?
You know, people started calling themselves geeks because it was cool, and I don't want to call myself that because I don't know what I am. I mean, I like geeky things; I like dumb toys, and gadgets and video games and computers. But I don't know if that's a geek thing! And I like manicures and spas. I don't know. [Laughs]
You can call yourself a geek and still get manicures. I think that's allowed.
Thank you! I just like a bit of everything.
The Book of Eli opens Fri 15.