Even if you haven’t seen Black Swan, you’ve probably heard about a certain sex scene between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, who play rival ballerinas in the film. Kunis isn’t crazy about that prurient attention, but the 27-year-old That ’70s Show star doesn’t dance around details of her naked romp with Justin Timberlake in this summer’s Friends With Benefits. She also claims that Family Guy, for which she voices teen misfit Meg Griffin, might be the gay-friendliest show on television.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: Did you know how much gay audiences were going to swoon over Black Swan?
Mila Kunis: Well, we didn’t have Cher in our movie, but we figured gay people would still be into it. [Laughs] I grew up in West Hollywood, in the heart of the gay community, so I’ve always been attuned with the gays. My first gay friend came out in junior high, but I always gravitated toward gay people.
How do you explain that connection?
I was raised in a household where there wasn’t a separation between straight people and gay people, so I never saw being gay as something out of the ordinary. When I first started going out, I’d go to the Abbey, Micky’s, or Akbar, because all my friends were gay. I’m a massive “fairy princess,” as I like to call it. But even at the age of 10, I never thought it was weird to see two guys holding hands and making out. It wasn’t until I was about 19 when I realized that the whole world didn’t share the same views as I did.
Tell me about your best gay friend.
I’ve known David for many years, and he’s awesome. He comes from a half-Hispanic, half-white family; half didn’t accept him when he came out of the closet, and the other half completely embraced it. But looking at David, I still don’t understand how anyone in his family didn’t know he was gay. [Laughs] We like to see movies together, and we travel a bit. He likes hipster music — he wears skinny jeans and Converse shoes — so sometimes I’ll go sit and suffer while he listens to random bands that I’ve never heard of. He’s also the only person I trust to watch my dogs when I’m out of town. David has a boyfriend, and they want to get married. He and I go to a lot of the gay functions, the AIDS walks, and we protested together when Prop. 8 first passed. I’m still baffled that it passed, and I swear it’s because so many people were confused about the wording of the proposition. I’m not some big public activist, but I privately support all of my gay friends who are affected by that verdict.
Long before the film came out, the media was already focusing on Black Swan’s same-sex love scene. Did that annoy you?
No, but it is surprising how many times that’s all people wanted to talk about. I just wish everyone could walk out of an hour-and-a-half movie with something to talk about other than that one scene.
Did you see Lily, your character in Black Swan, as a lesbian?
Not at all. I just saw her as a free spirit living her 20s in New York City.
You also simulated oral sex with a woman in the 2007 film After Sex. You played a supposedly straight college girl who fools around with a lesbian classmate played by Zoe Saldana.
That film was very independent — we had no money or time — so Zoe and I just went in and had a lot of fun. It was one of those things where we were like, “Well, here we go!”
Did you go through a similar period of experimentation?
There was no need to experiment because I knew what I wanted. I was a very late bloomer, so it took me a long time to become comfortable with who I was, physically and sexually, but once I did, I knew what I liked. All my friends were experimenting around me, though.
So you lived vicariously through them?
I actually live vicariously through the characters I play. I love that I get to live all these different little lives.
Your next film, Friends With Benefits, also looks pretty racy. In the trailer you’re shown standing in front of a naked Justin Timberlake and sizing up his goods. Set the scene: What were you really looking at?
We had two weeks’ worth of sex scenes to shoot. Justin would just wear a sock that covered his frontal parts, so yeah, I could pretty much see everything. And I had tiny nipple pasties and a little pasty on my hoo-ha. We couldn’t have been more uncomfortable in the beginning, but by the fourteenth day, we’d just drop our robes, like, “Hey, how’s it goin’?”
Does your boyfriend, Macaulay Culkin [with whom she has since broken up], ever get jealous of that kind of thing?
Well, when you sign up for a movie called Friends With Benefits, you kind of know what you’re getting yourself into. But it’s work. It’s all very strategic, because there are 150 crew members trying to light you and make sure no one can see your pasties. And Justin couldn’t have been more of a gentleman, because it can be very awkward.
A very similar-sounding rom-com, No Strings Attached, stars your Black Swan costar Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, with whom you starred on That ’70s Show. Am I the only one blown away by this coincidence?
You know, in however many weeks of press I did for Black Swan, you might be the first person to point that out to me.
In the 1998 HBO movie Gia, you played the younger version of lesbian supermodel Gia Carangi, who was played as an adult by Angelina Jolie. What do you remember about that experience?
My parents never let me read the script, so I didn’t even understand what movie I was making. I had no clue until the premiere. Angelina Jolie was very sweet to me and my family, but when you’re a kid in Hollywood, there aren’t many people who aren’t nice to you.
I imagine it’s quite an honor to be cast as a young Angelina Jolie.
Absolutely, but I was too young to appreciate it when it was happening. I’m sure I would’ve rather been doing another Barbie commercial at the time.
In a flash-forward episode of Family Guy, Meg becomes a transgender man. How do you see her sexuality?
Meg is still exploring her sexuality. Meg just wants to be loved, so she doesn’t really give a hoot who it comes from.
In another episode, Meg pretends to be a “super-huge megalesbian” to infiltrate her school’s lesbian club because being gay makes her cooler.
Being gay is cool. I just wish gay kids realized that earlier in their lives.
Because your family moved you to Los Angeles from the Ukrainian SSR at the age of 7, you’ve spoken in past interviews about how you felt different and ostracized at school. Do you have any words of comfort or encouragement for today’s victims of antigay bullying?
I’ll never know what it’s like to be gay, so it would be unfair for me to compare my situation to something as extreme as the bullying of young gay people. Yes, I was bullied, but I was bullied for having big eyes and a funny accent. Yes, I cried when kids picked on me, but it didn’t make me second-guess who I was. This bullying today is making gay kids second-guess themselves, which is leading some of them to go take their own lives. It’s just absurd that this kind of thing is still going on.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has been a vocal champion of gay rights, but he’s also caught flak for some of the show’s gay and transgender humor.
I truly believe that Family Guy is one of the gay-friendliest shows on TV. It’s definitely the least judgmental of any person, religion, or culture, because it makes fun of everything and everybody, but purely out of love. The gay community’s really been embraced by our show.
Do you and Seth ever go out drinking?
I’ve known him for 12 years now, so yeah, Seth and I have had a couple of crazy nights.
I was bummed you couldn’t join Seth and your Family Guy costars on Inside the Actors Studio.
You and me both. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico shooting The Book of Eli, so there was no way I could get out of there.
I wanted to hear host James Lipton ask you deep questions about your work opposite Hulk Hogan in the 1996 classic Santa With Muscles.
[Laughs] That would’ve been amazing! Like when he asked Dave Chappelle about Half Baked,which was one of the greatest moments ever.
Lipton also didn’t get to ask you the Proust questionnaire, as made famous by Bernard Pivot. So what’s your favorite curse word?
Fuck. It’s a good, strong word.
Your Snooki spoof on the Late Late Show and your Audrina Patridge impersonation for FunnyOrDie.com gave me the impression that you frown upon the vapid young Hollywood scene and likely wouldn’t enjoy a night on the town with Lindsay Lohan. True?
True. Sometimes I wish I had a little bit of that in me, but I just don’t. I prefer to stay home, take a bath, have a glass of wine, and watch Bravo. I don’t want to go to the hottest club, dance on tables, get photographed, and then spend the next day denying it ever happened.
I’ve often been told I’m a gay man in a woman’s body.
The Advocate, February 2011 issue; extended online version.