If the Great American Twitter Experiment has proven anything, it’s that when Ashton Kutcher talks — or tweets — people, especially women, listen. And Ashton’s ready to talk about sex. Or sex scenes.
“I never thought in my entire life that anything related to sex in any way would be something I’d get tired of,” he says. “But I was shooting so many sex scenes that I was actually getting tired of shooting sex scenes.
“‘Do we HAVE to shoot another sex scene? OH COME ON! MORE attractive women naked and all over me?’”
“We finally got to the point where we’d run out of positions. Everybody on the set was out of ideas, so we were consulting the Kama Sutra.”
Whatever vestiges of that mop-topped goofball-next-door that cling to Kutcher like cute to a cocker spaniel may be vanquished with his new film. “Spread” is “a game changer” for him, he admits. The 31-year-old plays an LA Lothario who uses sex to get by, something he’s had a front-row seat to since moving to Hollywood from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, more than a decade ago.
“There’s a rule in this world that you can swing by on your looks and ego for a while, but if you don’t back that up with some substance, it’ll run out pretty quick,” he says. “I read this script and I thought ‘Shampoo’ (the Warren Beatty drama about sex and shallow social striving in ‘70s LA).
“There’s a whole population of people who come to LA every year and don’t find success, don’t get the job, don’t become famous. They form a layer of the city that a lot of people don’t see. Those people have a story, too. Sometimes you do things that you don’t want to do just to get what you want to have.”
But don’t confuse “Nikki” his character for anything about Ashton. Sure, they’re both good-looking, and part of their appeal revolves around a kind of “toy boy” thing. But Kutcher never had to hustle and date for status.
“I got a job my first day in LA, working on ‘That ‘70s Show,’” he says. “But I know how to scrap to get by, and I know the compromises that you make just to have a place to stay, compromises to your integrity just to feel good about yourself because the ego is a pretty powerful thing.”
Kutcher, currently shooting a thriller titled “Five Killers,” may have played his share of “lazy,” “stoned” and “dumb” on screens big and small. But in interviews, he comes off as an astute observer of people and show business.
“I have a feeling he’s often the smartest person in the room but likes to keep it to himself,” says Bob DeRosa, screenwriter of “Five Killers.” “He has mastered coming off as just one of the guys,” not the easiest thing to do “when you have model good looks and a great business sense.”
That business sense is why he’s the King of Twitter, with three million “followers,” people who receive his personal tweets, and occasional shots of his wife, Demi Moore, in her undies. He’ll talk about his new movie on Twitter, “but you can’t go on social media and say ‘I’m going to sell this.’ You can have a conversation about it and if people are interested in the conversation, they might buy it.”
His showbiz savvy extends to creating Nikki, his character in “Spread.” He picked out Nikki’s trademark — funky suspenders that make even a sometimes homeless guy seem fashionable.
“When you go out in LA, the hustlers all have their own unique thing. ‘Oh, that’s the guy with the cane. Look, there’s the guy with the bandanna.’ Everybody there wants to stand out in the crowd. It’s peacocking. Everybody wants to be seen in Los Angeles. That defines the city.”
It’s that sense of the possible that is Hollywood. Even in corn country a guy can see the glamour and dream, Kutcher says. That’s what drew him and what draws thousands of Nikkis there every year.
“My favorite line from the movie is that bit of narration — he got there and he thought every day was going to be like a Van Halen video,” Kutcher recalls. “That image is the dream. I remember watching MTV and thinking, ‘Girls in bikinis on roller blades! I have GOT to go there!’
“That connected me to the movie, the notion of chasing that thing, but getting there and realizing that it’s not what I thought, that the image wasn’t real. ... Even when you grow up in Cedar Rapids, you can dream that fantasy. It’s not just about growing up, getting a job at General Mills or Procter & Gamble or going to college, coming back, and working at Rockwell-Collins. Hollywood allows you to see beyond that. I did. I guess that’s the one thing I have in common with every Nikki who goes West. Looking for the fantasy, man.”
// Short Ends and Leader
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