Friends with Benefits - Patricia Clarkson
Friends with Benefits - Lorna (Patricia Clarkson) © 2011 CTMG

Friends with Benefits reteams actress Patricia Clarkson with director Will Gluck after the success of their movie Easy A, in which she starred as Emma Stone’s very contemporary mother.

In this film she portrays Lorna, the eccentric mother of Jamie (Mila Kunis), a successful headhunter who lives in New York City. When Jamie persuades an up-and-coming art director, Dylan (Justin Timberlake) to take a job at GQ magazine, their friendship blossoms into something more, but with both having gone through unsuccessful relationships, they decide theirs will be sex without emotion – they’ll just be friends with benefits.

When Patricia breezed into our room for the interview she immediately remarked, ‘I know, you just had Mila and Justin.’ We told her we hadn’t, and she laughingly replied, ‘Good, I gotcha before the hot people!’ And with that remark, we began asking questions…

After seeing Easy A and now this, I would like to have you as a mother. What did you have to tap into to find this character?

Friends with Benefits - Patricia Clarkson
Lorna (Patricia Clarkson) © 2011 CTMG

I will be in every movie Will Gluck makes! I had such a blast doing Easy A, it was just a beautiful experience, with Will and Stanley Tucci and Emma Stone. I hit the jackpot. So when he called me, this was not long after, he said, ‘I have another part for you,’ I was like, ‘Great,’

He said, ‘It’s another mother.’ I groaned. He said, ‘It’s like a sister to the lady in Easy A, but on drugs, raunchy, like an ex-groupie.’ I was like, ‘Oooo, okay,’ Maybe her greatest gift is not being a mother. It’s being a groupie and sniffing glue!

Will seems to have a knack for presenting modern romantic comedies.

Will is reinventing the romantic comedy. He’s finding the romance in the frankness and in the humor, in the bawdiness and in the ugliness.

Dylan and Jamie are two people that are complicated, who have very difficult families and lives and I love the fact that they have jobs and they’re very secure; two professionals and they come at it and out of that kind of boldness, really just bluntness, comes romance, comes love.

I just play beautiful people’s mothers, Jim Sturgess (in One Day), Mila Kunis or Emma Stone, whatever works for Woody Allen, Evan Rachel Wood, I just play beautiful people’s moms.

As an actor do you feel a bit like a tuning fork when somebody new comes into a scene – can you recognize their talent right away?

Friends with Benefits - Patricia Clarkson and Mila Kunis
Lorna (Patricia Clarkson) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) © 2011 CTMG

When you work with really agile actors, you know in a second, you’re in a room and boom. I knew Justin before this, because of Mother Lover, the video we did for Saturday Night Live, and Mila and I had dinner a couple of times so that playing her mother I knew her.

Oh my God, Will, I love you, you let me walk into my first scene and Justin Timberlake’s naked. (she laughs) I owe you. And it’s lovely to see Mila too, a little depressing and extraordinary all at the same time, because they’re so gorgeous.

Can you talk about working with Justin before?

We shot that video two years ago in May. I got a weird call, like, ‘We want you to come be Justin Timberlake’s mother, and Andy Samberg’s lover.’ He’s so sexy.

I was just like, ‘Oh my God.’ I said, ‘Am I going to be doing something weird?’ And they were like, ‘No, no, no, it’s actually the opposite, you’re going to be skipping.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I like that.’

I got a call on a Wednesday night at 10 o’clock, which is how they do things at Saturday Night Live, it’s always crazy and last minute, and we shot that video on Friday, they edited it by Saturday and it aired that Saturday night before Mother’s Day.

I instantly became the coolest person with every niece and nephew.

Romantic comedies have struggle in recent years. Are there some classics for you that you love?

Anything with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, they are classics for a reason. But we do have them in contemporary (films). Annie Hall is probably my favorite film of all time. But I have endless romantic comedies that I love. I just saw Just Go With It, I thought it was fantastic.

It was genuinely funny and surprising. I also recently saw Funny People with Judd Apatow. I loved that film. Eric Bana in his last scene, couldn’t be hotter and couldn’t be funnier. It would be living my dream [to do a film with him].

As such a consummate actress, doing drama and comedy – is doing comedy now a relief for you after starring in so many dramatic roles?

I’m omnivorous. I think I would be unhappy doing just one or the other, and the fact that I’m now doing more comedy than I have, work begets work and suddenly people are like, ‘Oh, she’s funny.’ I was like (gives an expression like ‘yeah.’) Yes, I can pull down my pants with the best of them.

But comedic parts for women my age are few and far between and it’s harder and harder [to find them]. But I’m very thankful now that I’ve got this new place – people always offer me drama, but now people are offering my comedic parts and I owe Will Gluck a lot.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.