I watched this quickly-going-viral video of Mila Kunis and a nervous-nelly interviewer with a smile on my face and I thought two things:
One, publicists could learn a lot from this; in trusting their clients to handle a situation in a controlled environment (such as a movie junket interview) because more often than not, you'll get a gem or two out of the interview that will garner more press than it would have otherwise. Plus -- and this is crucial -- it will show your client in a real, genuine and relatable light to the thousands of potential customers of the movie and potential fans of the client (i.e. branding your client). Two, actors generally become so numb answering the same questions over and over for the two or three days when they do press for a movie, that they are craving anything real. This kid is real. And raw. And genuine. And funny.
I remember flying to Hawaii to sit down with Mila and the rest of the cast of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It was the first time I had met Mila. It was also the first time I had met Jason Segal and Russell Brand. Rather than sit down in a hotel room in Hawaii which, other than a few native orchids in the background, could have passed for the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, my Access Hollywood colleagues and I decided to do our interview with Mila walking along the beautiful Hawaiian beach. The interview was fun and she talked about her family and life in a way that didn't lend itself to a sterile hotel room.
With Segal, Kristen Bell and Brand, we decided to just grab some golf balls and hit the hotel golf course and putt some balls on the green and have fun while we chatted very little about the movie -- instead we talked about Hawaii, what they'd been up to while they were in the islands and other life stuff. It was a good idea made even better by the fact that I believe a little alcohol had been involved prior to their arrival.
Imagine me with a funny, nice and loose Segal, Brand and Bell putting golf balls on this beautiful golf course. Look, they were just happy to get out of those hotel interview rooms. Add in a beautiful golf course overlooking the stunning, turquoise Hawaiian ocean with the sound of a perfect 80-degree breeze gently caressing the palm trees and you can understand that it was like we had liberated them from waterboarding. They were running all over the place having a ball -- corralling cats with new toys come to mind -- and our crew just kept shooting. I looked at our sound guy to make sure we were at least getting audio in this crazy scene and he nodded, "yes," so I was fine with it.
The point is, the publicist could have stepped in and tried to control the situation but it would have backfired. Plus, Segal, Bell and Brand are all smart individuals and are more than capable of handling themselves. Now, if it had turned out we were doing shots for every putt they missed and we ended up looking like drunken sailors on shore leave, we wouldn't have aired it. I understand not every media outlet is like that and some make their living on exposing a weakness or unflattering moment of celebrities and the publicist would have to step in and rightly so. But then again, those type of outlets rarely get access to the celebs. By the way, most seasoned, really good publicists are excellent at knowing when to step-in and when to let it roll and their clients benefit greatly from their expertise and deft-handling.
Speaking of stepping in, watch how the interview with the British lad gets completely mundane when the publicist steps in and asks them to talk about the movie. Granted, she was smart to only step in once. I have to hand it to Kunis, she did a bang-up job of going with it and having fun. It didn't backfire. It went viral. And she comes off looking stellar.