Mila Kunis talks about depicting sexual assault and gun violence in new film 'Luckiest Girl Alive'

As a teenager, Mila Kunis had relatively modest ambitions when it came to how she envisioned her future.

“To me, [success] was the idea of owning a car, and owning a house, or having my own place, and being able to pay my bills, and having a dog,” she tells Yahoo Entertainment in a new interview (watch above). I was like, ‘That's it.’ That's the pinnacle of success, right?”

Of course Kunis, now 39, is paying her bills and then some. The That '70s Show alum has proven to be one of Hollywood’s most successful, prolific actresses over the past 15 years, with eclectic credits including Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), Black Swan (2010), Ted (2012), Bad Moms (2016) and Four Good Days (2020). The Ukrainian-born performer also has two children with husband Ashton Kutcher — and yes, she achieved her goal of becoming a dog owner, too.

Kunis’s latest feature is the Netflix thriller Luckiest Girl Alive, an adaptation of Jessica Knoll’s bestselling 2015 novel about a young woman who seeks to reinvent herself after experiencing a series of traumatic events in her teenage years.

The film deals with two very heavy subject matters: sexual assault and gun violence.

"Each one independently is incredibly complicated and we try to tackle both in one [movie],” Kunis says. “But I think that when you watch the film as a whole, it's not there for shock value. It's not there for anything other than to tell a story, and to keep the story grounded and to help you understand the why, which is what makes this entire story incredibly fascinating is figuring out the why. That is the whole mystery, and this is just one of the extra puzzle pieces that helps you."

LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE. Mila Kunis as Ani in Luckiest Girl Alive. Cr. Sabrina Lantos/Netflix © 2022.
Mila Kunis as Ani in Luckiest Girl Alive. (Photo: Sabrina Lantos/Netflix)

Knoll drew upon her own experience with rape in writing the novel — though the author initially chose to keep private the fact that the story had autobiographical elements in it.

"Writing it as fiction, I could see that I was terrified to come out with my story as myself," shares Knoll, who revealed she was a rape survivor with a 2016 essay in the newsletter Lenny Letter. "And I can very clearly remember thinking, I'll write it exactly as it happened, I'll put it in fiction, and I'll let the world decide if it was assault.

“Because when I was growing up, I was told that it wasn't, that I had participated in it because I was drunk, because I was at a party, because I liked one of the boys. And hearing from so many woman over the year that the book came out, at events telling me what that story meant to them, using terms like ‘the character's rape’… People didn't know what they were doing for me because they were using words that no one would use at the time it happened. And that's what gave me the courage to come forward and write the essay.”

Watch our full interview with Kunis, Knoll, director Mike Barker and co-star Chiara Aurelia above.

-Video produced by Stacy Jackman and edited by Jimmie Rhee

Luckiest Girl Alive opens in select theaters Friday before debuting on Netflix on Oct. 7.

Watch the trailer: