Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis want people talking about their new movie, Friends with Benefits. Just don’t call it a romantic comedy.
“We always thought of it more as comedy than a romantic comedy,” says Kunis. “If anything, it was a two-hander — a buddy comedy with a little romance in it. Because you care about the characters and you watch the characters fall in love, but it’s not your stereotypical romantic comedy.”
Timberlake is on the same page about the film, about two love-weary friends who embark on a sexual relationship without all that messy romance stuff. “I don’t know that we’ve ever treated it like a romantic comedy or a slacker comedy. To me, funny is funny and not funny is not funny,” he says. “And so we just wanted to find the funny in all these situations, and that’s how we treated this.”
Friends with Benefits marks a major milestone for both Timberlake and Kunis, as it’s the first time either has top-lined a film, though they’ve both received positive reviews for supporting turns in the Social Network and Bad Teacher in Timberlake’s case, and Black Swan and Forgetting Sarah Marshall in Kunis’.
Still, taking the lead has to come with new pressures, but Timberlake insists they’re quickly pushed aside. “We deal with those demons before we sign contracts. After you commit to the movie, you have to let all that stuff go,” he says, though he admits having Kunis along for the ride was a huge help.
“That was a little bit of a comfort, knowing that you were going to be sharing the bill and the comedy and the whole movie with a counterpart,” he adds. “There’s never a moment in this movie where it’s just one of us out there by ourselves.”
If the premise of Friends with Benefits sounds more than a little familiar, that’s because it’s not the first movie this year to tackle the idea of pals hooking up. Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher gave it a go in January with No Strings Attached.
Kunis, though, doesn’t think audiences will worry about a sense of deja vu. “I think that movies are movies, and there’s only so many original stories to be told in the world, and that’s the truth,” she says. “There’s what, like, seven different stories.”
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