Even though Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner have done dramas, they seem to be aware that movie audiences respond best to them in comedies. So it seems like a natural fit that the two actors would appear in “Valentine’s Day,” the romantic comedy that has one of the biggest star-driven casts in recent years.
Kutcher and Garner play best friends Reed Bennett (a florist) and Julia Fitzpatrick (a schoolteacher) in “Valentine’s Day,” which follows the lives of several Los Angeles-area residents during the romantic holiday. At the “Valentine’s Day” press junket in Los Angeles, Kutcher and Garner opened up about the stresses of Valentine’s Day, their plans for the holiday this year, and what it was like for Kutcher to work with his “That ‘70s Show” co-star Topher Grace on the “Valentine’s Day” movie.
Are you a sucker for romantic comedies?
Garner: Totally! This is right up my alley.
Kutcher: I don’t like them. I just make them.
How do you personally feel about Valentine’s Day?
Kutcher: I think it’s stressful. I think there’s expectation built up on this day, and you’ve got to be careful early in relationships not to set the bar too high … Guys go full-out on that first Valentine’s Day, trying to woo the girl over, not realizing that now you’ve set a standard that you have to live up to. And I wooed hard, so now I’m just trying to sort it out.
Garner: I think it’s harder on the guys, actually. The girls, we just kind of expect some flowers, but I have daughters. Do you have four valentines, in effect [referring to Kutcher’s wife Demi Moore and her three daughters]?
Kutcher: Yeah, you’ve got to do all, especially if you don’t think they’re going to have another valentine, then you’ve really got to …
Garner: Go nuts.
Kutcher: That’s why this year, my wife and I started this foundation, the DNA Foundation, helping [sex] trafficking victims. And there’s an organization called GEMS [Girls Educational & Monitoring Services] in New York that helps these girls off the streets. And so we’re making them all of our valentines this year as well. So we’re going to send them valentines, because they need to know that somebody loves them and doesn’t want anything in return. The daughters thing was a great entrée to learn, because there’s a lot of balance.
I think it [Valentine’s Day] is as stressful for girls, because it’s like, “Am I going to have a valentine?” [He says to Garner, who is married to Ben Affleck] You’re all locked in, so you’re not sweating it.
Garner: And I’ve trained him. He knows what to do. Don’t tell him I used that word.
What do you remember about Valentine’s Day when you were in grade school?
Garner: Everybody gets them but there’s always the girl who gets the big special one from Hallmark, instead of the little slip of paper in the envelope.
Why is Garry Marshall the perfect director for “Valentine’s Day”?
Kutcher: He’s the master of rom com. People know it and there’s a reason why. The way that he directs a set, the minute you walk on, you feel like you’re part of this family, and you have the freedom to proof the material, you have the freedom to play with it, but you also know that if you don’t know what to do at any given time, you’ve got Garry.
Garner: And also, this was such a huge undertaking. Just the scheduling alone, keeping track of all the storylines, Garry does not get ruffled. He’s done this so many times, he knows what he’s doing, and he’s not that fazed. He works harder than anyone, but he doesn’t take it so seriously that you see him get all angst-y about it.
Kutcher: Yeah, he’s done the dance enough where he knows. He’s worked with big stars. Nobody tries to even pull anything on Garry, because there’s no sense in trying to pull something on Garry. It’s not going to go over. So everybody just shows up and does the gig.
Ashton, you and Topher Grace haven’t been in a project together since “That ‘70s Show.” Did you two hang out on the “Valentine’s Day” set?
Kutcher: [He says jokingly] Yeah, I sabotaged his trailer before we started. I had to go and rush his trailer a little bit, make sure he didn’t have a better trailer than I had.
Garner: Also, in the press, they have a lot to say to each other.
Kutcher: Yeah, this cat is throwing me under the bus! I love Topher, and when I found out he was doing the movie, I was excited. Now that we’re far enough out of the show, now we can start working together on other things where people don’t immediately put us in the characters that we played on the show. It’s fantastic to start to move into that phase of our career where we can start to do other stuff together that doesn’t have that … residual hangover of the show.
How was it working with Patrick Dempsey?
Garner: We had worked together before a long time ago. We’d done a [TV] pilot together that wasn’t picked up. So it was really fun. I’d worked with everybody that I got to work with on this.
Kutcher: The hardest thing about working with Patrick is looking into his eyes. That guy, you can spend an hour …
Garner: Just gazing.
Kutcher: You can have a holiday in his eyes. And his hair is bullet-proof. He’s competing with the kids from “Jersey Shore” with the hair. It’s so perfect.
Garner: He knows it too.
Kutcher: It’s so dialed in. Like Pauly D [from “Jersey Shore”] called and said, “I want my hairstyle back.” He’s upset about that.
Patrick Dempsey has always had great hair.
Kutcher: It’s impeccable. It is impeccable! And he gets that little crinkle when he smiles.
Garner: He does. He has perfect crow’s feet.
Ashton, you’re a florist in “Valentine’s Day,” and a good friend of yours is a florist. Did you do any preparation with him?
Kutcher: Yeah, one of my best friends is one of the best florists in the world.
Garner: The respect for him. If I get an arrangement from Eric Buterbaugh, I know it’s going to last for a couple of weeks.
Kutcher: And you know somebody didn’t phone it in. His stuff is pretty impeccable. He let me work in his shop for a couple of weeks, and I learned about hydrangea and learned about all the different flowers and how to cut them and arrange them and some stuff that I’ll never use again.
Garner: Ashton was all fired up when he showed up to work, ready to do some flowers.
Jennifer, are you ready to give your daughters Valentine’s Day advice when they’re old enough to understand?
Garner: Yeah, my girls, we all have a valentine. We all share a valentine. We will be spoiling him this year for sure.
Kutcher: Her youngest daughter is eloping, and she’s having to deal with that.
Garner: That’s tough. She’s trying to learn how to walk and she’s eloping.
Kutcher: It’s tricky.
Garner: It’s messy.