Ashton Kutcher might be more famous for his Twitter messages and marrying Demi Moore, than being a successful actor and producer. But his company Katalyst, which creates original digital media, television and film properties, was named one of the year’s Top 50 Most Inspiring Innovators by Ad Age.
His new movie Killers, which he produced and stars in, opens this week. Kutcher plays Spencer Aimes, an international spy and hit man, who meets and marries the girl of his dreams, Jen Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl), failing to mention his profession to her.
After going straight for three years, their life is turned upside down when it appears someone is out to kill him. Finally forced to tell Jen the truth, the couple try to keep up neighborly appearances, manage her in-laws, and dodge bullets, as Spencer attempts to determine who is trying to assassinate him. I spoke with Ashton about his career both in front of and behind the cameras.
What was the appeal for you to do this film?
My character in the film is a guy who starts out in this extraordinary place with this extraordinary profession. When he meets the right person, he decides that he just wants a normal life, and it’s a life that he doesn’t necessarily get to have. For me, I found that I was connected to that.
Also, I had been looking for a movie like this, that was a two-hander and that was a fun, entertaining action-comedy. I thought I was going to find it in a buddy cop movie with two guys. And then, when I read this script, I realized that this kind of movie hadn’t been made in awhile and I felt like we could have a really good time doing it and make a really entertaining film.
What was it like to do the fighting and the stunts in the movie?
I do have a stunt person. I’m not as awesome as Tom Cruise. I don’t jump through glass. I didn’t participate in that. My stunt guy went to the hospital twice for jumping through glass. I did jump off a boat and I did most of the fight stuff. I bought one of those exercise DVDs off the TV. I put it in and watched it, and got in shape.
I did some fight training, but then I realized that I should have learned how to movie fight because on the first fight scene, I knocked out a stunt guy. That was a bad ordeal. We were doing that scene on the boat, and we were on a yacht in the wind. He threw a punch and I blocked it, and then punched him and knocked him out. I felt really bad about that.
Everybody in this movie has secrets. Do you think it’s a good idea to sometimes keep secrets in a relationship, or should you never do that?
I firmly believe that it’s a good idea to keep secrets, but I think it depends on who the secret is benefiting. If, at the end of the day, you’re the person that’s benefiting from the secret, or you’re hiding something, and you’re the one who has something at stake, then you should probably tell it. If the secret is benefiting the other person, maybe you should keep it.
As a producer, did you bring the film in on time and on budget?
As a producer, I’m extremely satisfied with the film. We set out to make a movie that was a $100 million movie for $70 million. That’s always tricky because you don’t have that luxury of the extra day, or the back-up when something goes wrong. We got to Nice, France, and it was supposed to be sunny and beautiful, but it was freezing and windy, and we were on a yacht that was pitching.
And then, we got to Atlanta and, in the middle of the night, one of our generators got struck by lightning, so it just shut us down. And it rained and rained and rained. We were shooting outdoors, doing the scene where the car is crashing through the fences, and we got fogged out.
It seems like you can do no wrong, when it comes to finding the right projects, whether it’s films you’re in, TV shows you’re producing, camera commercials or your Twitter account. Where does the most pressure come from, for you?
I fail frequently; I just try to keep it quiet. I don’t know. I don’t feel like anything is pushing me. I feel like I’m just being pulled to things. I like to win. I think that that’s one element. I also really just think about what audiences and people would want.
One of the things about being on Twitter, for me, is mostly about just being on the pulse of what people are interested in, what people are doing and what people are looking for. I look at entertainment projects and storytelling and I really try to think about what people want.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
People are most shocked and in disbelief that I go to the office every day. I have a job. When I’m not acting on a movie, I go to work, first thing in the morning. I’m at work at 8 o’clock in the morning, and I get home from work at 7 o’clock at night. I treat my job like a job, and I work at it.
I think people would probably be most surprised, if I ever calculated up the number of hours I work on an average week and published that. If it was ever documented, I think people would be shocked to find out.