Earlier this month, Mila Kunis appeared on BBC Radio 1’s “The Scott Mills Show” to promote her new movie, “Oz the Great and Powerful.” Though Kunis has been on a press junket for the past few weeks, I think she’ll remember this interview in particular — after all, it has amassed close to 11-million views in just two weeks.
Chris Stark, the first-time interviewer, was vocal about his extreme anxiety from the beginning. After one question about the film, he digressed, detailing his and his buddies’ favorite drinks and nighttime hangouts. Though his bosses were clearly not impressed, Kunis was having what she called the best interview she’d had all day.
The interview, which might be a bump in the road for Stark’s early career, has done wonders for Kunis, who came off as incredibly funny and down to earth. At one point, the top comment for the video on YouTube is “such an awesome chick.” Other comments range from “Mila Kunis is the best” to “best interview ever!”
When celebrities embark on weeks-long promotional tours, what’s most important is that they come off as likeable and human — so that we can watch them and say, “Hey! You’re just like the rest of us!” And what’s more “regular” than Kunis enjoying a cold Blue Moon, fried chicken, soccer and a few Jägerbombs every now and then?
Kunis’s “Oz” interview has propelled her to the top tier of celebrity interviewees. By avoiding the same wrought and boring questions, these actors are able to connect much better with audiences and emit a down-to-earth energy that’s necessary to sell yourself and your film.
Nobody has done this better than Jennifer Lawrence, the ultra-likeable “Silver Linings Playbook” Oscar winner. Lawrence succeeds because she never takes herself too seriously. She’s able to laugh at herself, even after tripping on her walk up to accept the award for Best Actress.
Mila Kunis’s “Oz” interview is essentially Lawrence’s post-Oscars press video, which is currently at over five million views. Much like Kunis, Lawrence laughs off the boring, seemingly necessary questions. “What was your process this morning?” asks one reporter, to which Lawrence replies, “What was my process? I don’t know, I just woke up … I took a shower… I got my hair and makeup done, and then (with a mocking tone) I came to the Oscars.” She then apologizes and blames her behavior on the shot she took before coming out.
This is precisely how fellow Oscar winner Anne Hathaway has failed. Whereas Lawrence isn’t concerned at all about being politically correct or if people will like her, Hathaway is too conscious of how people perceive her. Her inability to laugh at herself, coupled with her amazing skill of relating any question to the “misfortunes of Fantine,” her “Les Mis” character, has made her the anti-J-Law throughout the awards season.
Lawrence, Kunis & Co. owe a huge debt to the new legion of young talk show hosts, whose programs have facilitated these power images. Most significantly, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel have taken talk shows to the next level, and they’ve brought their celebrity guests with them.
On “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” actors and singers are encouraged to join Fallon in other segments, clips and games throughout the episode. They aren’t confined to the typical desk-chair setup or the usual questions. Consequently, they’re able to showcase their actual personalities. Watching Tina Fey join audience members in a game of Pictionary, or Justin Bieber and Fallon play basketball is not only more fun to watch, but it reminds audiences that celebrities are people, too.
Jimmy Kimmel has also become somewhat of a master at knocking celebrities down a few pegs and humanizing them. His movie parody, “Movie: The Movie,” pokes fun at the repetitive and commercialized nature of the film business, all the while starring the actors who make up the industry. Similarly, “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets,” in which stars read insulting tweets about themselves, accomplishes the same goal. By acknowledging us regular people and our criticisms, celebrities gain an instant likeability.
When Kunis finally gives in to the producers of “The Scott Mills Show,” she offers to quickly run through the answers to the questions she “already knows (Stark) is gonna ask.” She details her character’s evolution throughout the film and how she approached her character and her relationship with the other actors on set before getting back to the good stuff: Will she or won’t she be Stark’s date at his friend’s wedding?
Kunis’s attitude toward the questions about her movie was one of boredom, and it was also the most boring minute of the interview. Audiences don’t really care if Mila Kunis rooted her character in honesty; her presence is promotion enough for the film. When I’m most engaged is when I feel like Kunis (or Lawrence, or any other actor) could be one of my best friends — and for a lot of people, that’s going to be reason enough to go see “Oz the Great and Powerful.”