In his new romantic comedy, Ivan Reitman’s No Strings Attached, Ashton Kutcher plays Adam, whose longtime friendship with Emma (Natalie Portman) is almost destroyed when they have sex together. Determined not to allow their physical pleasure to corrupt their emotional connection, they decide that their relationship should have ‘no strings attached,’ no jealousy, not fighting, no expectations. But can you have sex without love getting in the way?
At the press day for the movie, Ashton Kutcher answered that question, and talked about the trials and tribulations of doing sex scenes and how romantic he is.
You’ve done many romantic comedies, what was it about this script that you liked?
Liz delivered a screenplay that was authentic, but also ridiculously funny.
Most of the time when you read a comedy script, at some point, it’s going to push for the comedy – but Liz’s never reaches for a joke. It’s really a character comedy, and not a generic ‘hijinx-y’ type of film.
This is Natalie Portman’s first rom/com so did you do anything to put her more at ease or just tease her mercilessly?
No. I learned more from Natalie I think in one day on the set together than I could ever possibly teach her in a billion years. She may not have done a rom/com film before, but she’s done so much work on so many different levels.
I even watched Garden State, and it’s comedic in and of itself. I don’t know that there’s anything I can really teach her.
Natalie is always prepared, plus she makes interesting choices with her character. And, at the end of the day, she’s a really sweet and giving person. She’s a great partner to have.
Kevin Kline plays your dad, Alvin, in this – what is their relationship like?
Alvin is a dad who doesn’t know how to parent and instead wants to be something more like a best friend to his son.
Being Alvin’s son is what wholly defines Adam’s position in the world, and now, what he is striving for is to get out from under the shadow of his father and to be his own person.
Kevin has a wonderful way about him, and is such a technician. His skill is really well honed, and it’s been an honor to work with someone who is dialed into their craft in that way.
What was working with Ivan Reitman like?
To have a cast filled with such wonderful actors is a tribute to Ivan Reitman. Ivan has made some of the most quintessential movies of my youth.
I grew up watching Ghostbusters and Stripes and, along with all of those other comedy ten poles, they became pillars in my life. Ivan is absolutely legendary in defining a genre for a generation, and he’s still doing it.
What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for someone?
I think that romance sort of coincides with effort. You can fall flat on your face, but as long as you’re making a great effort, I think it comes off as romantic.
So it can be something as simple as, if you’re someone who doesn’t cook, you make a meal.
For me, I’m a little bit of a workaholic, and I was in a different country, and I had one day off, and I flew from that different country just to see someone for an hour. And then turn around and go back.
The lead couple in the film are friends first before hooking up. Do you think that friendship can survive sex without feeling?
I wouldn’t know. I haven’t been fortunate enough to have one of those relationships. You know, I really think that whoever you’re with ultimately needs to be your friend. In all the really successful, happy relationships that I know, the people that are together are friends anyway.
I don’t know that sex always has to have feelings but I know that friendship always does. So if you’re friends, you’re going to have feelings of some sort, some layer, some level of a deeper feeling. So I don’t know that it’s completely possible.
Can you talk about shooting the first sex scene with Natalie in which there are a lot of close ups?
I think you’re always wondering when the word “cut” is going to be said when you’re doing these scenes. You’re there and you’re doing that scene and you’re always like, ‘Okay, when are they going to cut? How far are we taking this’?
So I think it’s always like that and it was technical too. Ivan comes back and says, ‘I think you need to [finish] sooner’. So your male machismo is like, ‘No, not at all. It’s going take me much longer than this.’ [he laughs].
Are they embarrassing to watch?
I just start by apologizing. You sort of try to set some ground rules. I think it was Sir Laurence Olivier who said, ‘I apologize if I get aroused and I apologize if I do not get aroused.’
There’s always that kind of awkward state of, ‘Is this okay, is that okay?’ And then in between it’s like let’s just act like nothing happened. Then you see how good an actor you really are!
What’s coming up for you?
I’m getting ready to reunite with Garry Marshall on a New Year’s Eve project that’s not a sequel but somewhat of a follow up to the Valentine’s Day movie we did.