Mila Kunis first made a name for herself as Jackie, the delightful airhead on That ’70s Show, but unlike most sitcom stars, she has been able to move successfully to the big screen. Her latest movie, Oz: The Great and Powerful, puts her in the role of an evil witch—not what you’d expect from Esquire’s (and Maxim’s and GQ’s) Sexiest Woman Alive. She recently spent a day with her Oz co-star and Playboy Contributing Editor James Franco to chat about paparazzi, Pilates and getting old.
FRANCO: Let’s talk about Oz first. Was it hard to play such an ugly-looking creature?
KUNIS: That was the easy part. I’d never done a role that existed before, and it’s probably the scariest one I’ve ever played. It’s not like I’d ever play Theodora better than Margaret Hamilton. The only thing I could do was reinterpret it. I hope people appreciate it for what it is and don’t compare it to what it was—because you can’t.
FRANCO: I think they’re two very different movies. You’re fine.
KUNIS: I hope that’s how people see it. I did have fun making it. Can I tell you I love Detroit? I could walk around. I had food outside. I don’t remember the last time I ate outside. We went to the zoo. It was fantastic.
FRANCO: You can’t go to the zoo in Los Angeles?
KUNIS: Dude, I can’t leave my house in Los Angeles.
FRANCO: Because you’d be followed?
KUNIS: Yeah, there’s no privacy. Every sweet, mundane moment you have in life is photographed. I always get photographed in the morning, when I’m running errands or going to the gym, so in all the photos you see of me I’m in sweatpants because it’s seven a.m. and I’m going to Pilates. I’ve now resorted to going to Pilates at six a.m. to see if I can beat the paparazzi.
FRANCO: They’re just going where the money is, right? The magazines want to see you.
KUNIS: But you know me. Come on, I am the least exciting person to photograph daily.
FRANCO: You look good in some of them.
KUNIS: Fuck you! What do you mean “in some of them”?
FRANCO: You’re not always in sweatpants is what I’m saying. Tell me this: How do you see things playing out in terms of your future and your career? What do you think you want to be?
KUNIS: I don’t know. James, seriously, do you feel you could be an actor forever?
FRANCO: Yeah. Although, do you think it will get weird when you’re older?
KUNIS: I think for a woman it does. There’s a documentary you should see called Searching for Debra Winger, about how this industry affects women in their 30s. Realistically speaking, it’s hard.
FRANCO: What happens, they age and people don’t want them?
KUNIS: No, I think you have to choose. Do you want to have a life, or do you want to have a career? Sometimes you can find a happy medium, but in this industry it’s rare.
FRANCO: What are the conflicts? Traveling so much? Is it hard to have a family?
KUNIS: All of the above. Everything. You have to choose: privacy or career.
FRANCO: Why is that particular to women?
KUNIS: It’s not necessarily particular to women, but in this documentary it is. I also think in this industry, age is particular to women versus men. Why? Because that’s just how it is.
FRANCO: You don’t see yourself like Meryl Streep, working into your 60s?
KUNIS: Listen, I’d love to, but I wouldn’t presume or assume to be that. If I’m lucky enough to have a career remotely close to hers, great. If I’m not, I’m not going with the expectation of having one, because that will ultimately slow me down. It’s one in a million; it’s not the reality.
FRANCO: But look at your career. Why would you think that? What would you do if you couldn’t act?
KUNIS: I think a lot of it is luck. Don’t get me wrong, I work my ass off. But so do a lot of people. It all depends on whether people care to see me in five years or not, and you can’t predict that. It’s weird that at the age of 29 I’m talking about aging in this industry, but the truth is I don’t think I can do this for the rest of my life. I want to be a producer. That’s really what I want, because I love this work in a weird, sick way. But I also want a life. I want a family—just, like, one day, not tomorrow.
FRANCO: And that means you’ll stop acting as much?KUNIS: As much, for sure. I want to be a present mom. When I was growing up both my mom and dad worked full-time. I guess the only thing I can say about that is they worked full-time in one location. I’m never in the same place for more than two months. How am I ever going to have a family like that? You have to make compromises. If that means I do one movie a year, if people still want to see me and hire me and I don’t suck by that point, great. But my only source of happiness can’t be dependent on something so fickle. And I find this industry to be incredibly fickle.