Following the release of his film The Guardian, we caught up with Ashton Kutcher at the Dorchester Hotel in London to find out all the gossip.
Is this the fittest youve ever been for a movie? "Its the fittest Ive ever been in my life. I feel like when youre doing a film the idea is that you do all the work before you get there. Everything that youre going to do in a scene, everything that youre going to have to do physically, you have to have the work already done before you get there, because theres going to be enough problems once you get there that youre gong to have to solve. If you havent already figured out what youre going to do youre not going to win. "So I started training for the movie before I knew I had the role, I started training for about eight months, which involved swimming a lot. I dont like the water, and I didnt like it before I was in it a lot. I didnt like taking a bath really. "I dont mind drinking a glass of water, but....so I spent a lot of time swimming. I had to basically learn how to in order to do the film, and then just training beyond that and training as an actor, just to get better.
Did you have to have a special diet"I lived on chicken, broccoli and brown rice for the last three months. I went to my trainer, we went to see this school about two months out and these guys were all built in a way that Id never even thought about being built. I said I dont look like one of them yet, I need to look like one of them.
"And he said well alright heres what youre going to do, youre going to change what youre going to eat. So it was chicken, broccoli and brown rice. I could go without eating that again.
When you were on holiday recently you I heard you had an experience where you were doing it for real"Yes there is that danger of believing too much, when youre in the moment there isnt a danger of that because somebody said that as an actor you never want to get caught acting and Im trying my best not to get caught from here on out.
"But I was on holiday, I went to Turkey with some English friends of ours. There was one older gentleman, we call him the Dickie Doc, hes like an 80 year old doctor from here. He was on the trip with us and hed been drinking pretty much all day, and hes not a half bad bridge player.
"He decided to go for a swim, and he got about ten feet away from the boat and started t go under. So I just pulled him back to the boat, which wasnt too difficult a task.
Never have contemplated doing that before"Before doing the film I wouldnt have been quite so quick to get in the water, for myself. I really couldnt swim. I could probably make it from here to that post [a few feet away] and back, and I wouldnt have looked good doing it. So I wouldnt have done it before.
Did Kevin Costner give you advice, given his Waterworld experience"Whats interesting about Waterworld is that it actually made some $200 million, it was actually a financial success. But because it didnt perform well domestically in the United States its assumed it didnt do well for him. I even assumed that myself, but as far as him giving me advice, it was interesting.
"I always feel like youre not growing as a person unless youre doing something that makes you a little uncomfortable. I want to grow as a person, so when it came time I was training and training for the movie. We were about two months away and the trainer said he hadnt heard from Kevin. I said hes not swimming yet?.
"I started to think about Dustin Hoffman doing Marathon Man with Laurence Olivier, and Dustin was running around the track until he passes out and Olivier was standing over him and says its called acting my boy. So the whole movie I kept waiting for Kevin to come on to me and just go its called acting my boy.
"But it never happened. He got in decent shape for the film, and I learned a lot from him, not necessarily about being in the water but about being a man, and about relating with people and being a generous person and being a generous actor.
Where did the Gum line come from? Was that from the coastguards"No, that was in the script.
Were you a big Costner fan as a kid"The movie Field of Dreams was filmed in Iowa, and so I grew up with a cornfield in my back yard, and I always thought a baseball player was going to walk out of it. The mantra if you build it they will come becomes a way of life. Im very fortunate to have met a lot of my acting heroes, those people that you get to sit in little dark rooms and watch on a little box. They really become your heroes, they become your teachers and your team-mates. Theyre your bodyguards, or your authoritative figure. Now Kevin is my friend, I admire his work.
"Its hard, you could probably name on the fingers of maybe one hand the number of people whove been able to have a successful career for as long as Kevin has. You look up to those people when youre trying to do the same.
Have you kept up the healthy regime"No.
But you gave up smoking and drinking"I gave up smoking, I never gave up the drinking. When I was training, its hard to smoke and swim at the same time. Youd get to the edge of the pool and all youd be wanting is a cigarette when all you actually really want is oxygen.
"So I traded the smoke for the oxygen. I read a book by an author named Allen Carr, The Easy Way To Stop Smoking, and the great thing about the book is that you get to smoke while youre reading it. You get to page five and it says something like light one up now, and you say absolutely!. And you get to the end of the book and the last page says smoke your last cigarette. You do, and I did and I havent smoked since.
"Thats one thing that I havent returned to. And I took, I think a three month break from working out when I finished the movie, I couldnt motivate myself to get into the gym or swim. Ive done some swimming since but not a whole lot.
Did Demi give you any GI Jane inspired tips on surviving the training regime"She said to just go all out. She told me when she was there that she did everything, and that by the time they started shooting they really respected her and once they respected her for giving everything that she had then they supported her.
"They helped her and showed her, and that was really great advice because I went in on the first day of the boot camp and said alright keep up with me, because I said I was going all out. What it did was it created a unity between myself and the other guys that are in the movie. They took it seriously.
"And so by them taking it seriously I think the movie got better because of it. And the Coast Guard guys, man, they were there for me. Any question I had, anything I needed to know, they had my back.
What were your feelings on learning co-stars were Olympic standard swimmers"That was pleasant. I really thought I was there. I went through the whole Coast Guard manual, and made sure I could do everything that those guys could do, what they have to do in order to graduate.
"I got to Louisiana and Andy said well thats great, so you really think youre ready? and I was like yeah, Im ready, Im going to blow these guys away. Then he said hed show me who the other guys are, and he throws down a picture of Mark Gangloff who won a gold medal in Athens in the swimming and I was like man youve got to be kidding me!.
"There was I thinking I was really going to win, and they were faster than me. A lot faster. But once we got the gear on and started doing the tows and stuff they slowed down a little bit because its a different kind of swimming when youre dragging somebody else through the water. Those guys can make it across the pool in eight strokes.
"But once you get the gear on its like having a big parachute, a big net, so you dont have the glide, and the form becomes less essential.
Were there dangers involved"Yeah, to me a dangerous situation is when you realise what could happen. We could all be in a really dangerous situation in this room if we really want to think about what could happen, so I kind of put that out of my mind while I was doing it.
"But now looking back I think about hanging 80 feet above concrete and rebarb by a thin little wire controlled by some guy with a little winch. If you think about what could happen, I remember hanging from there after we did it two or three times. Kevin said maybe you guys could put a little fall pad down there in case . but from where we were hanging it looked [tiny]. I wondered how we were going to hit that.
"If we fall will we really hit that pad, as were swinging around in the wind and the rain. So there were definitely some dangerous situations.
How long were you underwater in that scene in the swimming pool"Thats the one thing about the movie that really ticks me off because I was under the water for about three and a half minutes, holding my breath after swimming the length of the pool but when they cut it in the movie its about 20 seconds, if that. So I kind of look at a lot of the things that I did and I wonder what the hell did I do that for, but you live and you learn.
Do you have a newfound respect for the coastguard"First of all going into the film I didnt know anything about them, but when I read the script it was three years ago so Katrina hadnt happened. When Katrina happened it was a huge catastrophe, and these guys really became the heroes. The one thing our government was able to really lean on was that they were successful.
"But I knew nothing about them, my respect for them is...anybody who is willing to sacrifice their life to save the life of a complete stranger, you have to respect. And if you dont youre a fool. Thats what these guys do on a daily basis. I also appreciate the fact that theres a branch of the military supported by the United States government that they train to save lives and not to take them. I think that thats a really noble thing.
And in regards to the acting, I dont regret anything that I did to train for the movie, I knew that I wanted to portray them as who they are. That meant creating a physique for myself that resembled theirs, and if I got into a little bit better shape than I needed to, thats not a bad thing. If Im playing a heroin addict, Im not going to do heroin, I can guarantee you that.
Were the Coast Guards thrilled with increased profile thanks to film
"They are, they actually had recruiting tables set up in Chicago at the opening of the film, and I think they actually got quite a few people to sign up. I dont necessarily want to make a recruiting film, but if it helps them thats a good thing.
How is Kevin Costner perceived by younger actors"Hes revered by me, I dont know if I can speak for everyone else. Dances With Wolves is one film he won an Oscar for as a director, I think it won seven Oscars, and if youre a young actor and you dont respect that I think youre kind of ignorant in some ways.
"I think directing yourself is a monumental task. Just to self edit as an actor, you work for some directors who dont give you a lot of feedback so you have to do that. Thats a difficult thing to do as an actor, and Kevin is always good in his movies. Occasionally we have the opportunity to be great and hes been great when those opportunities have come. So if they dont respect him all theyd have to do is look at his work and they will.
Did you notice any difference considering the fact that hes directed before"Its helpful, I know there were times. Andy [Davis] came out of the cinematography world, and so he has a really amazing visual sense, how the camera should move and how things should look. I remember one time we were shooting a scene in his office where I had my emotional revelation in the movie.
"Wed done some 20 odd takes of different angles, and I felt like Id done it authentically about 25 times, and we were moving on to take number 26 of 32, just because of the way Andy shoots. He shoots a lot of film from a lot of different angles. I just wasnt feeling what I wanted to feel.
"I went to Kevin and I said okay, this is why Im doing this movie with you, now youre going to help me. He said alright. I said that the last take was completely off and he said yeah it was. I asked how I could get it back.
"He said the only difference between me and him was that he was more relaxed in what he was doing, hes a little bit more confident in what he was doing because hed been doing it longer. He said just believe me, you dont have to do anything and then youll do everything. Thats all it took.
Do you have a preference of film genre"You know the films that have made me feel the best have been the ones that have had a story that Ive wanted to tell. As an actor, when youre first starting off, you dont necessarily get to choose that much. You kind of do what youre given.
"You have limited choices, and as my choices have grown Ive been able to tell the stories that I like to tell, about people that I respect, or a story that has a message that I believe in. Those are the kind of films I want to make, and whether thats a comedy or an action film or a drama, or a horror film or a western, whatever it is those are the kind of movies I want to make.
Are co-stars suspicious of you because of Punkd"I dont guarantee immunity, when Im working with someone Im not going to break that trust that you have to have. You have to be able to look across to the person that youre working with and trust them, and trust that theyre going to give it everything theyve got. I cant break that trust in my work. So if they do I hope that they know while were working together that nothing will happen.
Did Kevin ever have doubts"I think he just knew that that wasnt going to be the case. When youre hanging from the wires you have all this concrete and rebarb, if somethings going wrong you dont want the guy going are you punking me?. No, youre really going to die!. You dont want to get caught in that situation, so I would never do that.
By Liz Frost
Tagged in Ashton Kutcher