Hey, what’s up? Sorry… what’s that? Who spent the afternoon chatting and drinking with actress Mila Kunis? Oh, that’s right, I did. You know Kunis — the Ukrainian-born, Tyler Durdenesque ballerina in “Black Swan” (thatscene with Natalie Portman) and No. 2 on last year’s AskMen’s Top 99 Women (No. 26 this year? What were we thinking, men?). This month it was announced she’s signed on to become the first-ever global brand spokesperson for Jim Beam’s portfolio of whiskies. That’s how I ended up in an old-timey drawing room on the third floor of a townhouse, alone with Kunis. We discussed bourbon and booze, along with her upcoming movieJupiter Ascending and that awkward-tastic viral interview with BBC reporter Chris Stark.
AskMen [AM]: We’re going to focus on the bourbon first, because we love spirits.
Mila Kunis [MK]: I like that you called it “spirits” — good job.
AM: First of all, “Global” Brand Spokesperson. No responsibility there.
AM: You’ve done three new commercials tied in to Beam’s new “Make History” campaign, set to begin airing soon. Can you give a sense what else your responsibilities are going to entail?
MK: I don’t think I can divulge, because we’re still in the process of figuring out the logistics of everything. But I’ll tell you it’s a great company because they want to work with you and want you to feel like you’re a part of the company. They’re incredibly collaborative. I hope we can do a bunch of great, fun things in the future. [Editor's note: According to a press release from the company, "Kunis will also be featured in retail materials and content on Jim Beam's website, Facebook and Twitter."]
AM: When were you first tied in with Beam?
MK: We shot the ads a while back, maybe December. So we started to work together, like, six months ago. [Editor's note: Beam's master distiller, Fred Noe, told us later that, "You can tell how serious she was about the whole thing: Before anything was signed, sealed or delivered, she came down to Kentucky to learn about the process and check things out."]
AM: Were you a bourbon drinker before that?
MK: Yeah, I’ve been drinking bourbon for probably four years now [she's 30].
AM: Do you have a favorite way to drink it?
MK: I like a little Jim Beam Black Label on the rocks. But sometimes, I won’t lie, I like me a little bit of Jim Beam Honey, because it’s just a little sweet. But always on ice, for sure. A big chunk of ice.
AM: Since you are a bourbon drinker and there are so many women drinking whiskey these days, do you think that might be part of your mission? To make it known that women drink bourbon?
MK: I’m not out there screaming that women are drinking bourbon, but I think it’s a great beverage as an option. I’ve got nothing against drinking a Cosmo or Martini. It’s not like one is judging the other. It’s just delicious and slow and steady, and there’s something about sipping a bourbon that to me is very relaxing.
AM: Since you’re a bourbon girl… A guy’s in a bar: Can he still buy a drink for a woman?
AM: What’s the best way to do that? Should he guess?
MK: Ask the waiter what she’s having. No guessing. Because you also don’t want to assume that she’s drinking alcohol. Sometimes she’s drinking water. But I think it’s great. Chivalry is not dead and you should be a gentleman. But if you are going to buy a girl a drink, buy it. Don’t just offer it. Follow through.
AM: In addition to bourbon on the rocks, do you have a favorite bourbon cocktail?
MK: They’re all downstairs, honestly [following the interview, Bill's Food & Drink was celebrating with three drinks: Black 'n Rocks, Jacob's Ghost and Soda, and a Makin' History Whiskey Sour]. But when I was in Kentucky, Fred’s wife made me a Whiskey Sour which was delicious [she later admitted she had two]. I like the Penicillin, which is whisky, honey, lemon juice and ginger beer.
AM: You know the Penicillin is a New York City invention.
AM: Yep. Sam Ross, who was with Milk & Honey at the time, created it [the original features single malt or blended scotch with a rinse of smoky Islay Scotch whisky].
MK: You’re the first person today who’s not only heard of the cocktail, but actually knew where it came from! I should go and have one.
AM: You need to go to Sam’s new place, Attaboy, where the old Milk & Honey was.
MK: Well, there you have it! [to a handler at her side: "Will you remember this bar for me?"] I first got it at a restaurant I was at and the mixologist said, “What liquor do you want?” I said, “Any kind of bourbon,” and it was great.
AM: Let’s talk real quickly about your new film, the sci-fi thriller Jupiter Ascending. You play the title character. Can you walk us through it a bit?
MK: It’s a bit of a hard movie to put into one sentence. It’s the Wachowski siblings [their first original collaboration since the Matrix franchise]. It’s Channing Tatum and myself. I play a young girl living in Chicago. The base storyline is all about consumption and how we as a society are all about consuming and it’s all we care about. Ultimately, it’s a sci-fi film; it’s great and big. We had fun shooting it in London and Chicago for six or seven months.
AM: It seems as if you’ve had the opportunity to play perhaps a broader range of characters than a lot of your peers. In other words, not just the romantic interest, but baddies, comedic characters and Meg fromFamily Guy for so long. Was that calculated?
MK: Absolutely. After Forgetting Sarah Marshall, everyone wanted to put me in a box to do romantic comedy and I vigilantly fought against it. It took me five years before I went off and did another romantic comedy [Friends With Benefits]. I was so specific about wanting to prove that just because you do one thing well, it doesn’t mean it’s all you can do. So I went and tried to do everything but what people expected me to do. You always want to challenge yourself and work with people you respect. You can’t always go by genres, but it’s always fun to challenge yourself.
AM: You’ve become something of an online hero, what with Funny Or Die videos, your professed love of gaming, viral interview videos [like the one with British journalist Chris Stark], and joining YouTuber Sgt. Scott Moore at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. Do you consider yourself part of a new generation of cross-platform entertainers?
MK: I don’t think you could have predicted any of the things you just said. It all happened and people have gravitated towards it. The kid from the BBC wasn’t playin’ — he and I were doing an interview. It’s not that big of a deal. I still don’t understand why people gravitated towards it so much. We were just bantering back and forth, no different than what you and I were doing [In addition to NYC-based cocktails, Mila and I also discussed Jim Beam ice cream and maple donuts, and the dessert carts being trundled past for another event]. The young man who asked me for a date, it just happened and I said “sure.” It wasn’t like I was the 10th person down the line to do it, I think it was one of the first times it happened. I was in the middle of doing a press junket [for Friends With Benefits] and the video was brought to my attention by someone at ET or something like that. It kind of all worked out. You can’t predict these things, they’re anomalies. They really are. I think it’s important to just be a good, honest person and be true to who you are. Because once you start trying to make that happen… Lord knows, I don’t even have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Why would I ever want to be viral when I’m not even on the Internet?
I may have been the only one nursing a drink (Jacob’s Ghost White Whiskey and soda), but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t drinking with her. As our time together ended, we shook hands and she called me “awesome.” That’s when I swaggered proudly downstairs to Bill’s Food & Drink, only to have the bartender discreetly inform me my fly had been undone the whole time. Ashton Kutcher, you’re safe for now, you lucky bastard.