Mila Kunis is explaining the “logical” approach she took to understand her complicated character in her new film, “Luckiest Girl Alive”. ET’s Nischelle Turner spoke with Kunis before the thriller hit Netflix on Friday, where she shared how she “reverse engineered” the role before letting the emotions of the film take over.
“I mean, I don’t know if I’m gonna sound like a sociopath, but it wasn’t that hard,” Kunis said of portraying some of the film’s more difficult moments onscreen. “I have a very healthy relationship when it comes to acting. I don’t live and breathe it when I come home. I’ve always said this: who I am and what I do are two very different things.”
“Understanding the why of the character is always the easiest way in,” she continued. “And I guess I reverse engineered it, so, I went like, ‘How did she end up here?’ These are the incidents that happened. Can’t control those incidents. You can’t fault for those incidents. You have to forgive yourself for those incidents — that is the film. So, for me to do it, I think I approached it in an oddly logical way, and then allowed the emotions to then take over.”
In the film, Mila plays TifAni “Ani” FaNelli, a New York woman who appears to have it all, from the sought-after job at a glossy magazine to the dream Nantucket wedding. But all of that is threatened when a crime documentary director interviews her about a school shooting that took place at her prestigious high school when she was a teenager. As a result, Ani is forced to confront the truth about what actually happened.
Kunis called school shootings a “sad” reality that parents and students across the country have to deal with, and while she said her kids practice active shooter drills at school, she’s not ready to talk to them about the grim prospect of having to encounter one.
“Not yet, not about this,” Kunis, who shares Wyatt, 8, and Dimitri, 5, with husband Ashton Kutcher, said when asked if she’s broached the subject. “I’d rather talk to them now about the bird and the bees, so to speak, and anything else. I’m not ready to talk about school shootings. I can’t do it.”
“They do drills in schools. So, when I grew up, they did earthquake drills. And now they do — they don’t call them active shooter drills for little kids, but they have different names for them, and they do them. It’s sad. To think that this is the society that we are living in. My 6- and 8-year-old go to school, doing an earthquake drill also, and call it whatever you shall, but an active shooter drill at six and eight. We don’t talk about it yet.”
That’s not the only trauma the film tackles. Ani deals with a harrowing past littered with shocking incidents that include not just the school shooting, but sexual assault, fractured family and bullying that was almost too much to bear — incidents that made Kunis reflect on her own teenage years.
“I think the beautiful thing about this film, is that when you walk out, you have a lot of conversations like this,” Kunis said when asked what she’d tell her younger self about tough topics like these. “I’m so grateful, I was like, ‘I wonder what in my life prevented me from getting myself into this situation.'”
“And I can go without putting blame,” she continued, speaking of Ani. “She didn’t do anything, but somehow she got to this situation. How? You and I could have both been in the same exact situation multiple times in our life, I imagine. How did I not get there?”
ET also spoke with Chiara Aurelia, who plays the teenage version of Ani, about why it was important for both her and Kunis to take on this role.
“Before we started filming, we were able to do a Zoom and kind of talk about what we saw for Ani, and the character and kind of her journey and backstory and mannerisms, and how she walked and talked and moved and breathed and all that — which I think was super amazing,” Aurelia shared.
As for what she wants viewers to take from the film, the “Cruel Summer” actress said she hopes it leaves an impact, particularly for the women watching.
“I hope they take away a lot — I think I hope they’re impacted by the story,” she said. “I hope they enjoy watching the film. I mean, Mila is fantastic, who wouldn’t want to watch her in a movie? Come on.”
She continued, “But also, I think I hope that it provides a sense of voice and strength for a lot of women out there, and a lot of people in general that are struggling with the kind of subject matters that we talk about in this film, and hopefully that has an impact for the better.”
“Luckiest Girl Alive” premiered in theatres Sept. 30, and is streaming now on Netflix.
More From ET: