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Ashton Kutcher let’s it all hang out at the No Strings Attached press conference

No Strings Attached
25 February 2011

We were lucky enough to be in the presence of a comedy genius last week, and let’s face it, he’s easy on the eyes too. The gorgeous Ashton Kutcher and Director Ivan Reitman were at the Dorchester to promote No Strings Attached, the fabulous new rom com starring Aston Kutcher and Natalie Portman, who unfortunately couldn’t be there due to her pregnancy.

No Strings Attached is a hilarious look at the concept of ‘sex buddies’, and what happens when two people try to have a no strings attached relationship, purely sex, no emotions and no love. You can probably guess what happens as this adorable couple try to convince themselves and each other that they are not falling in love. 

Ashton talked about his chemistry with Natalie Portman and how he doesn’t mind being naked, and Ivan revealed how he wanted the sex scenes to be as realistic as possible…



Ivan, your trade mark of science fiction, is obviously missing from this film and instead you’ve delved into tackling a relationship comedy, what made you decide to do that?


Ivan Reitman: I started working on this with Liz Meriwether, the author, over three years ago when she was a young playwright out of New York, I loved her upbeat sense of humour and she seemed to have a wonderful eye and ear for the voices of her generation. I actually pitched this idea to her, and we talked about When Harry Met Sally over 30 years ago and the idea of was it possible for a boy and a girl to just be friends, which we felt was a bit outdated and the contemporary version would be is it possible for a boy and a girl to just have a sexual relationship without any sort of romance whats so ever. Liz loved the idea and her first draught was really funny, and Natalie Portman wanted to be on board quite early on and I just loved the idea of being in a room with these actors trying to create believable, truthful, funny scenes together.


It’s probably your most revealing role, and when you saw the script, I bet you thought that you better head down the gym and get as toned as possible?

Ashton Kutcher: I actually stopped working out for this film, I literally had a conversation with Ivan before we started and I said; ‘you know, this guy is a production assistant/aspiring writer, i know a lot of these guys and none of them are particularly fit! (laughs) I just felt like it wasn’t necessary for this character. He’s already in a very enviable position so I thought making sure this character was real was really important, so I thought I would let myself go a little bit. Apparently I didn’t make myself go enough, because it seems to be the only thing anyone wants to talk about! That and my derriere.


Ashton, you’re character is shown early on in a very memorable scene as a young boy trying it on with the girl, when you were at school were you a player with the girls or a bit of a fumbler?

Ashton Kutcher: I was a bit of a fumbler, I didn’t really have a proper girlfriend until I was a senior in High School, so I was really nervous about the whole thing, and I didn’t manage very well.


Aston how do you stand on the 21st century version of romance through social networking sites, do you make a quick call or send a text because it’s quicker?

Ashton Kutcher: I think there’s a couple of elements to it, I think it’s accelerating relationships, but it’s also making them very disposable. The notion that you can ‘un-friend’ someone at the push of a button, is kind of frightening, therefore I think people are having less of an investment in relationships. At the same time, it used to be that you met someone, you would go on a few dates and gradually get to know them and trust them at the same time, and you learn a little bit about them. Now you can know all about their friends, what friends you have in common, who their family are, what they do for a living, what they had for dinner, all after one date, or even before the date. All that information makes us feel very familiar with people even if we don’t know them. The greatest fear in the world is public humiliation or public rejection, so I think we would say things in a text or email that we would never do face to face, so relationships are coming together and breaking apart faster. So relationships are more disposable, but i think this creates more opportunities for romance, as a hand written letter means more today than it has in hundreds of years.


Mr Reitman, was this film R rated in America, and if so, is this the price you pay when creating a comedy that contains a sense of reality.

Ivan Reitman: It’s mostly for language that we got the R rating and for sexual situations, it’s not even about explicitness of the sexuality, but the explicitness of the ideas, I think the USA rating board is much more concerned about sexual conversation, it’s a weird anomaly. If you want to make an honest movie in the states it will be rated R.


Surely this effects your audience because you want kids to see this film?

Ivan Reitman: Absolutely, its stops kids under sixteen seeing it in the cinema at least initially, and they’ll end up watching it on DVD or TV, so its kind of ironic. Fortunately the box office has been great and I think we’ve been at number two for the last two weeks. It will be interesting to see how it does when it opens in Australia today, and the UK in the next couple of weeks and then France, where it’s generally rated fairly low.


Ashton, obviously you’ve got to create a screen chemistry, which must be difficult to create with someone that you don’t know, but with you two it seems to click.

Ashton Kutcher: It’s easier when you like the person, and she’s very likable, I don’t think its something you can plan or manufacture. I generally find you can have good chemistry with someone you can argue well with, and Natalie and i appreciate being right, and that makes for good chemistry. But Natalie could have chemistry with this cup (picks up his water glass) if she wanted to. She’s probably one of the best actresses of my generation, and its a blessing and a curse as an actor because you know that everything that you get from her is going to be real and honest and reactive and beautiful, at the same time when the light shines in a dark room, all the dust shows and so it was a challenge for me to play this role and be as honest as she was.

Ivan Reitman: I’d like to talk about chemistry because I don’t think you can act it, and I don’t think it’s about attractiveness, or arguing as much as I’d like to take credit for it as a director, I can’t-it’s really a magical thing. Sometimes it happens and often it doesn’t happen and its particularly an important thing in a movie about romantic relationships, and we were really lucky, the magic just happened. I had an instinct about it,but it’s really more an act of God.



If the chemistry doesn’t exist between your two main actors, are you then ‘screwed’?

Ivan Reitman: Yes, and you see it all the time, good work is being done, the screenplay is really good, but then there’s something dead about what goes on and there’s very little you can do about it.


Ashton, whats the most romantic gesture either of you have ever been on the receiving end of or given?

Ivan Reitman: I think it’s sometimes appearing when one is not expected, especially if you’ve been away filming, it’s making an effort to see your loved one.

Ashton Kutcher: Romance is personal, the carrot gesture in this film are instead of flowers because she didn’t want them, so that really meant something to her. Romance is usually not some grand gesture but something very simple and very very personal and romance is an island right next to care, and when you care about someone and you listen to them and you feel them then you know just whats right, and generally it’s something that will be very unimpressive to a room of strangers.


How did it come about having Kevin Kline on board and Ashton, what was it like playing opposite him as your Dad?

Ivan Reitman: I worked with Kevin Kline sixteen years ago in a movie called Dave and we had a great time together, and he’s generally known as Kevin Decline in America, he’s very tricky about the films he chooses. When I read this part, I kept thinking how great he would be in this ego centric roll, because Kevin loves the idea of playing an actor actually in real life, so I just called him up and he declined as the role was too small, so I sent him a really impassioned letter and he said OK, and we had a wonderful time, and he said ‘I guess we shouldn’t wait sixteen years for the next time.

Ashton Kutcher: Liz Merrywhether did such a good job scripting this part and I was a little nervous about working with Kevin at first, and the first day of the shoot he shows up and he’s got linen pants on a shirt and between scenes he takes his shirt off and he’s prancing down the street with no shirt on, and I’m thinking this guy is fantastic! I thought he was going method, but I think he was just being Kevin! The relationship that we get to play was fantastic, where one member of the family has a huge level of public success and what that does to the relationship to the kid, where they’re publicly invisible, and having Kevin play that with me was an absolute treat.


Do you have any good tips on making a relationship with an older woman work?

Ashton Kutcher: I’m just trying to make mine work and I think great relationships are great partnerships, and they come in all shapes and sizes, and ages, the only tip I have in a relationship is keep working on it, especially when it’s good, don’t get lazy and take a break when things are going well.


The sex scenes weren’t exploitive of the female body as most sex scenes are, was this an important creative decision?

Ivan Reitman: I wanted it to be as straightforward as possible, I didn’t think the shooting should be romantic, it wasn’t about fancy camera angles and moving dollies and fade outs. In fact the first scene, which is the most critical one, as it triggers the rest of the movie, is all close and how the two relate to each other and I’m really relying on the chemistry that these two have and the passion that is in each others eyes and how they look at each other. I think for that first sex scene there were three or four takes and I think I just let the scene run longer than everyone expected, they knew they had to keep it going and so it felt very awkward and very real, and I decided not to have any music during the sex scenes so that it was quite stark and we’re forced to just watch the scene.


Did Natalie ever have any issues with any of the sex scenes?

Ivan Reitman: I said earlier that she read an early draft of the screen play, and I said, I didn’t want this to be like a Doris Day movie from the 1950’s, I wanted it to feel very naturalistic and very contemporary. I said I don’t want you to be nervous about what I’m going to show, I’m not going to take advantage of you, I just want it to feel real and allow the comedy to come out of your characters. She wanted her audience to see this other side of her, which is quite a truthful side to her, that she is accessible and has a great sense of humour and she has the greatest deep body laugh.


Yesterday at the press conference Ashton, your bum was on a massive poster, was it just an average day for you at work, having your bum out?

Ivan Reitman: He likes being naked

Ashton Kutcher: I like having it out!  I don’t mind being naked, we all come into the world this way, there’s nothing you can do about it, doing the scenes are infinitely awkward, there are 40 strangers, standing around, i think its less awkward for guys than it is for girls, because the crew tends to be more masculine, and mine isn’t much different from yours. Whenever I’m doing a sex scene, I get out of myself my making sure the other person is OK, and when you’re caring about someone else, you’re not worrying about yourself, and that’s my mental process, I just try and make sure the other person is alright and apologise a lot.