By Victoria Namkung
Photographs by Mark Liddell | August 17, 2011 | People
Silk chiffon blouse ($1,725) and skirt ($2,625), Yves Saint Laurent. 326 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills; ysl.com. Yellow-gold Love bracelet, Cartier ($4,850). 370 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills; cartier.com
She’s got one of the most exquisite faces in Hollywood, comedic chops (even though she swears she’s not funny) and absolutely stuns on the red carpet (who could forget that lavender lace Elie Saab she wore to the Oscars?). But Mila Kunis would rather be at home in a pair of pajamas than spilling out of nightclubs. The star of July’s Friends with Benefits has recently become one of the hottest actresses around, despite having worked since the age of nine. She’s currently shooting Ted—Seth MacFarlane’s feature-film directorial debut about a man’s teddy bear that comes to life—with Mark Wahlberg, and she recently signed on to play a witch named Theodora in Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, also starring James Franco.
In Friends with Benefits, Kunis stars alongside Justin Timberlake—a welcome comedic turn after the white-knuckle intensity of her Golden Globe-nominated role in Black Swan. “[Friends with Benefits] was a perfect movie for coming to work at 4:45 in the morning—which would normally be miserable—because I knew I’d be laughing for the next 17 hours with people I genuinely liked,” says Kunis of the modern rom-com. “The director, Will Gluck, and Justin are so sharp and quick-witted—they just want to have fun.”
As for the movie’s plot, which revolves around friends hooking up just for sex, the actress isn’t a believer. “I think it’s realistic in theory and fails in execution because someone always gets hurt,” says Kunis, adding, “I don’t have personal experience in this department.” She and Timberlake shot sex scenes for two weeks, and she says they became easier as the days passed. But Kunis is far less comfortable with her current status as a sex symbol. “I’m flattered, but I’m not that person. Sophia Loren is a sex symbol,” she says. “If watching TiVo and eating Pinkberry in sweatpants is sexy, then I’m your gal.” It’s her self-deprecating attitude and easygoing charm that makes Kunis even more attractive—if that were possible. As her Black Swan costar Natalie Portman once said, “She loves video games and Star Trek, but she’s the prettiest girl in any room.”
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When she’s not working, Kunis can be found hanging with her dogs: Shorty, a 14-year-old beagle-corgi-dachshund mix, and Audrey, a nine-year-old English bulldog. The actress, who had a breakthrough, big-screen role in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall and voices Meg Griffin on Family Guy, loves reading, cooking and watching TV in her North LA abode. “I watch just about everything, from Sister Wives and Dexter to Anderson Cooper 360° and all of the food reality shows,” she says. “Remember when Anthony Bourdain did the LA episode for No Reservations? I had been to every single place except for that goat restaurant in East LA. I should go there.” The screen siren—who famously lost 20 pounds from her already petite frame for Black Swan and happily gained it back via In-N-Out burgers, corn-truffle pasta at Santa Monica’s Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi and Russian food from her mom’s kitchen—loves food and is suspicious of anyone who doesn’t. The last thing she made? “Pork stuffed with collard greens and a lot of different spices that you make into rectangular patties and bake in the oven,” she says enthusiastically.
She becomes equally excited when discussing Los Angeles, her home since her family emigrated from Ukraine when she was seven. After the initial culture shock and requisite teasing from fellow grade-schoolers, she became fluent in English within a year, played a young Angelina Jolie in the film Gia and ended up graduating from Fairfax High School while starring on That ’70s Show. “LA gets a bad rap, but it’s what you make of it,” says Kunis. “I have Ventura Boulevard down the street with the best sushi in the world and friends whom I’ve known since I was nine years old.”
It seems for Kunis the only downside of LA living is the paparazzi’s newfound obsession with her. “I’ve never dealt with it on a level like in the last few months. It makes you become a hermit, because normal activities—like picking up laundry or sneezing—suddenly [make you] very self-conscious,” she says. “I love the Internet, but it’s taken away all sense of illusion. If you leave the house you’re screwed, and if you don’t leave you’re screwed.” She credits her strong family with keeping her sane and grounded. “They’re so proud of my brother and me. I think they’re happy we’re happy.”
The paparazzi aside, Kunis wouldn’t trade her current state of affairs for anything. “I’m incredibly blessed. I started acting when I was nine years old, and if you would have told me that, at 27, this is where I’d be, I wouldn’t have believed it,” she says. “I get to do what I love for a living, and I don’t consider it a job. It’s fun and extremely gratifying—I love everything about it.”
Styling by Lisa Michelle Boyd at opusbeauty.com
Makeup by Rachel Goodwin for Chanel at The Wall Group
Hair by Mara Roszak for starworksartists.com
Manicure by Beth Fricke using O.P.I
COVER LOOK: Mesh bodysuit ($1,685), satin skirt ($2,830), leather harness belt ($1,185), openwork insect brooch necklace ($1,340) and leather pumps ($1,255), Lanvin. 260 N. Rodeo Dr.; lanvin.com. Gold Love bracelet, Cartier ($4,850). 370 N. Rodeo Dr.; cartier.com. Ring, Opal Stone (price on request). Gray Gallery, 8751 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; graygallery.com