Valentine’s Day is coming up, and many of us are wondering what we should do.
“Valentine’s Day” comes out Friday, and while the ensemble romantic comedy doesn’t offer any real suggestions about what to do, two of its stars – Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher – sat down with us to talk romance.
In the film by Garry Marshall, the veteran director of “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries,” Kutcher plays a real romantic, a florist named Reed having the busiest day of the year. He begins the day by proposing to his girlfriend, played by Jessica Alba.
His best friend, Julia (played by Garner), an elementary school teacher, wakes up with a handsome doctor she believes is the one after so many bad relationships. But the pals’ plans go awry as the story unfolds.
“Valentine’s Day” stars a who’s who of Hollywood – Julia Roberts, Patrick Dempsey, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Shirley MacLaine, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Bradley Cooper, Topher Grace, Queen Latifah and Kathy Bates, as well as Roberts’ niece Emma Roberts and newly crowned Grammy queen Taylor Swift, who shows she also has comedy chops.
Garner and Kutcher have their own fairy-tale romances. The Twitter king (the actor has some 4.5 million followers) is married to actress Demi Moore. Last year he used his Twitter power to raise money to help Malaria No More buy nets for the people of Africa. Now he and his wife have launched the Demi and Ashton Foundation, aka DNA, to raise
awareness about sex slavery.
“There is an organization in New York that helps these girls after they’ve been pulled out of slavery,” Kutcher said, “and my wife and I are going to send valentines to all those girls and make them our valentines; so they know that they can be loved without asking for anything in return.”
Garner is married to actor Ben Affleck, and the couple has two children, Rose, 1, and Violet, 4. So the actress, who starred in Marshall’s “13 Going on 30,” only had to work about three weeks last summer for “Valentine’s Day” and has mostly been on “mommy patrol.”
And while Garner is trying to get an independent film project off the ground – “it’s hard to get movies made these days,” she noted – she has nothing planned acting-wise next.
“My husband’s editing his movie right now (`The Town’ starring `The Hurt Locker’s’ Jeremy Renner),” Garner said. “It’s really intense. He’s working like crazy. It just wouldn’t make sense right now.”
But she and Kutcher, who turns 32 today, were in good humor as they answered some questions about love, romance and “Valentine’s Day.”
In the movie, there’s the anti-Valentine’s Day character played by Jessica Biel. So is it a truly romantic day or a capitalist conspiracy?
Garner: It’s whatever you make it.
Kutcher: That question sounds relatively loaded. I think the opportunity to have a day that is dedicated to sharing your care for other people – for me, personally – that’s a romantic notion. It all depends on what you do with it.
Garner: I’m always happy when there is something special about the day. When you see people at the grocery store and you say “Happy Valentine’s Day,” it’s a nice way to connect. And it’s a nice way to have a reset button in whatever relationship you’re in. … And good things can grow from that.
Kutcher: It’s funny, when you’re interviewed by women, that question never comes up. When you’re interviewed by men, it does. And when you think about all holidays in general, is there a capitalistic conspiracy around Christmas? … But I think that if you sit back and look at the world, we need moments in time to celebrate different things.
And I don’t think anyone says you have to buy things for people on Valentine’s Day.
The young boy in the film had a crush on his teacher. Did either of you?
Garner: I did. I had a crush on my gym teacher I think in the first grade. It didn’t go anywhere. I don’t know why.
Kutcher: No, it never did equate for me. They were teachers. I remember really being embarrassed once because I called my teacher “Mom,” and … I tried to act like I didn’t.
Garner: It’s kind of like going up to a man at the zoo and grabbing his pants and then realizing he’s not your dad.
Are flowers important to give?
Kutcher: I think flowers are an extraordinary gesture of art. People, when they think about art, think paintings or sculptures or movies. I think flowers are an art that exist for a moment. So I think that it’s a beautiful thing to exchange.
Garner: The card is key. Flowers on their own are lovely, but what you say in the card is very important.
Kutcher: Unless you have an extraordinary florist that speaks through the flowers.
Garner: Unless you’re bringing something that you picked yourself, and unless you’re sending flowers from Eric Buterbaugh(known as the florist to the stars), then you pretty much have to write a great card.
In the movie, your characters kiss, and Jen’s Julia jokes it wasn’t that good. So in real life, is the first kiss or second kiss more important?
Garner: The collection.
Kutcher: I think the second kiss, because the first kiss can often be a shot in the dark. With the second kiss you learn how well people can adapt. And if you want a great partner, you have to have a partner that is very adaptable. I would say the second kiss.
Are there songs that put you in a romantic mood?
Garner: There are so many of them that are meant for that.
Kutcher: I think it’s two things. The song itself, but I also think it’s the moment that we shared when the song was playing. There are certain songs like “The Dance” by Garth Brooks. I remember there was a moment and energy and feeling that I had with someone and the song came on and it was a shared moment, and so every time I hear that song I can tap into the sense memory of that feeling.
Garner: For me it was “Groovy Kind of Love.” When I was in high school, I was in the marching band, and I was into a football player. When we played the song at halftime, I remember wondering if he heard my saxophone in the locker room.
A key plot point in the film is telling a friend that they are in love with the wrong person. Did either of you ever have to do that?
Garner: I did have to do that and I waited patiently for years until my friend was ready to hear it, and then she finally looked at me and said, “What do you think?” And I was so happy she asked. There wasn’t anything horrible going on. He wasn’t cheating on her. He just wasn’t right. But I think that different occasions call for different amounts of truth.
Kutcher: I agree. I don’t know if I specifically had to do that. I’ve most definitely been told that something like that was happening from a friend, and I’ve appreciated it when I was told. It’s interesting because with my character in the movie all his friends think this girl isn’t right for him, but none of them tell him. And that’s what triggers his desire to tell Jen’s character what’s going on.
I guess, like after you break up with a girl, all your friends come out and tell you this and that about her, and I’m like, “Where were you six months ago?” And a lot of times maybe they were telling me and I didn’t want to hear it.