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January 2004
The Butterfly Effect : An Interview with Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart

By Todd Gilchrist

The Butterfly Effect: An Interview with Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart

While he's currently on some people's "it" list, Ashton Kutcher is definitely proving his case. Besides playing Kelso on the popular TV show That 70s Show, Ashton is carving a niche in Hollywood lately with recent roles in Just Married, My Boss' Daughter, and Cheaper by the Dozen. With his cancelled series Punk'd behind him now, Ashton is ready to make a serious play in this business. Amy Smart has always played the girl most guys on film would die for with roles in Varsity Blues, Road Trip, and more recently The Battle of Shaker Heights. There's a certain aura about Amy that makes her the right choice with certain roles. Coming out on Jan. 23rd, Ashton and Amy team up as lifetime companions separated by adolescent tragedy in the thriller, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT. In speaking with blackfilm.com, both actors talked about the reasons they took on this film.

TG: What attracted you to the script?

Amy: I know what attracted me was first of all, the script was an original story, well written. It was so fascinating. It definitely affected me when I read it. And it was the greatest challenge I'd seen yet, as and actor to do. That is what initially drew me to it.

Ashton, same: Myself, this script, when I got it, it was in the form that we shot it for the most part. We changed the ending a little bit, but it was pretty much there, and I thought that it was kind of a fantastic metaphor for life, and pretty enlightening. I also spoke with the directors before I decided to sign on. And they had a really clear, concise vision of what they wanted to do stylistically, and what they wanted from the story. And the opportunity to play a character that's blind to the trauma that takes place in his life, and then the violence that is in the movie I thought was a fantastic metaphor for how blind we are as a society, and as a people, to the things that actually do happen on a day to day basis, and how we kind of just block them out. And whether it be through our media or whatever, we go Žoh, it's not happening in my world, so it's not happening.' In the movie there's a great representation of the violence with the kids, and the pedophilia, and these sort of things that the guys could have taken the easy road, and you know, kind of squeamishly cut around, but they weren't afraid of it.

TG: Did you always think you'd be successful?

Ashton: I don't think anybody has that much foresight. I think that having that much foresight is a gift that we don't get to have in this world. That's why time and space does exist so that we can't see the reaction of our actions immediately. I would say that that is somewhat the trick of the devil.

TG: Which was the hardest reality in the movie to play?

Amy: I worked on all the realities a lot, but I think the most gratifying for me was really the one with the heroine junkie prostitute because it was something that I really had to dive into and just go there and be 100 percent committed to it. I did a lot of work on that, and we actually went to go see the behavior in this little section of Vancouver that's like the highest populated heroine using section in all of Northern America because of the port from Asia. So we got to witness a lot of- - a lot of really messed up people, and their body language.

Ashton: I would say the most difficult reality was the first one because that was the base character and really getting the base character, and understanding the psychology behind a person that has blacked out the traumatic moments in his life, becomes a person that's hiding the most. That's why I decided to wear facial hair, and actually getting to that character helped me understand really who this guy was, and that he's really trying to hide who he really is behind, whether it's facial hair, or his mannerisms, very internal human being. And so finding that guy was the most difficult, and the other ones were just adaptations of that.

TG: Which actor do you aspire to be like?

Amy: I definitely started off loving Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, and then it started to broaden quite a lot and now I really appreciate a lot of the young actresses out right now. I'm totally blown away by Maggie Gyllenhaal and her performance of Secretary, I think it's an incredible movie. I love Emily Watson in Hilary and Jackie and Breaking the Waves. I love Toni Collette in Muriel's Wedding. I mean there are so many different, wonderful performances that keep me inspired constantly.

Ashton: Kirk Cameron. Mike Seaver. When I was a kid I wanted to be Mike Seaver. It's true. I'm not kidding. That was the pinnacle of an acting career as far as I was concerned. And then, I would say now? I appreciate performances from everyone that actually has the guts to try. And I don't want to be like anyone else, because I'm never going to be able to do it as good as they are so I'm going to go my own road.

TG: How does the recognition that you're getting because of your personal life affect you?

Ashton: It's funny because I was actually, I did Saturday Night Live before I ever met Demi, I did the cover of Rolling Stone before I ever met Demi, and all of that kind of hit right at the same time. So Saturday Night Live came out, the cover of Rolling Stone came out, Punk'd really started getting mass media attention, and then I met Demi, and we started, you know, spending time together, which got more attention even yet. And also I had made acquaintances with the young man, Sean Combs. And that all happened before I met Demi. Then I met Demi, and I started getting followed all over the place! Do I rejoice in the fact that I can't leave my house without being followed? Um, no. I don't think that anyone would like that. It's a little creepy. But I wouldn't have it go away, because if it went away, I wouldn't be in the position that I am right now. No, you know what? I would have it go away, if I could still be in the position I am right now.

TG: Do you have any plans to work together (Ashton and Demi)?

Ashton: We work together on life everyday. And that's the biggest job that anybody has.

TG: Is Punk'd really over?

Ashton: I started Punk'd after we did The Butterfly Effect, and then I decided to end it before we did the press junket. You know what it is? You keep it new or it's through. And I felt like, you know, the format of the show, we've done it. We've seen it. You know, we've done a bunch of different people, and if it wasn't going to be new, I didn't want to do it. And I get bored really, really quickly, and I think that there are other things that we can do. And you have to remember, the MTV audience is an extremely fickle audience. And they like things for this long [holds up thumb and pointer finger in an inch gesture] right? And then they find the next cool thing that exists. That's how that place works. So if you can't change it, and make it new, and make it different, and make it the new hot thing, don't do it, because you're going to fall off the cliff.

TG: How about the restaurant?

Ashton: Yeah, it's still going good. I ate there last night and the food's great.

TG: What was it about this movie that made you choose this dramatic role?

Ashton: We made the movie for 9 million dollars. So the risk of making a 9 million dollar movie isn't as great. You're not sitting in there with 40 million dollars on your shoulders. I didn't know if people were going to accept me as a dramatic actor. I still don't. We'll see in a couple weeks. I felt like I could do it, and I felt like I could do it well. I felt like I could play the character. I felt like it was a difficult character to play, and I felt like I could get it, without taking a gigantic risk financially for some company and then failing, and then having them go, Žoh, well he can't do dramas.' If the movie financially makes 30 million dollars, this movie's been a huge success. It's a success for the company, they get their money back, and I get to be introduced in a different format, in a different genre.

TG: Were you nervous with first time directors?

Ashton: Very nervous. Yes. I was really, really freaked out, and nervous. And they were awesome. Like they were really accepting, they let me try anything I wanted to try, and they told me when I sucked, which is the best thing a director can do.

TG: If you could change anything about your past or present, what would you change?

Amy: I think that as you get older, you learn to live in yourself more securely, and become more confident, and sure of who you are, and I think that life is about growth. And you continue to grow and progress, hopefully, so I think in the past, you know you go through your insecurity stages, and not feeling good enough, or accepted or whatever, and to know that now, and to probably go back would have been pretty cool.

Ashton: I think that we can change our past. I truly believe that, and I believe that it happens now. That our actions, and the actions - - and I think this is the lesson of the movie - - the actions that we make in our present life have the ability to change our past. If you have a relationship that's unmended from our past, the opportunity's right now to go back and fix that. And I think that I wouldn't change anything other then the things that I'm actively changing.

TG: Any future plans?

Ashton: My New Best Friend, what can I tell you? There's a show in the UK, called My New Best Friend. And it just won the comedy awards in the UK. That's were we got the idea from. If you watch it, you'll get it. And for the future we have another show that we're doing called Snafu that we're working on with MTV. It's a hybrid, really pleasant show. We have a pilot that we're trying to get made, that actually Eric and John wrote that's for Fox. I'm producing this uh, we'll call it The Dinner Party, which is a film that I believe I'm going to do with Bernie Mac, and there's a couple other things that I'm trying to figure out right now.


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