Ashton Kutcher takes on Bernie Mac in Guess Who
Ashton Kutcher can hold his own with comedians his own age, like the cast of That ‘70s Show or Dude, Where's My Car. But can he survive Bernie Mac? Kutcher developed the film Guess Who with Mac in mind, while Mac was simultaneously developing another Guess Who's Coming to Dinner remake, so the two had a harmonious relationship behind the scenes, despite the antagonism between their characters.
"Bernie's like a teacher, a friend, a father, and somebody you just laugh with all at once," Kutcher said. "I got to go to work every day and learn from one of the master comedians that is alive today so that was just a pleasure in and of itself. And then he's always looking out for you. You're like wait a second, I'm having like absolute reverence towards him and he's always got my back. He's always looking out for me and he's asking me my opinion and he really cares and he just makes going to work a pleasure."
The duo became intimately involved while filming scenes in bed together, telling dirty jokes and learning how to dance. In dance, it was Bernie's show. "Bernie destroyed me in the dancing department. I'm not very good. If I'm like line dancing, I do all right with country line dancing. But as soon as I have to move my hips, it's kind of an issue. I rehearsed for quite some time. Bernie just kind of came in and did it and left because he already knew how. I had to put some work in."
Despite their closeness, there was not much time for socializing off camera. "We were just always at it, trying to make the movie funny. For us, the message of this movie was really important, and it was important to us to make sure that this movie really said something, and wasn't just like a big comedy that wasn't saying anything, and wasn't like too sappy, so we were just working on the movie."
That message is partially the same as the original, that race will always be an issue with interracial couples. "I think the original was poignant in its time for changing inter-racial relationships. I think our movie has the heart of that, I think it has the premise, I think it has the message, I think it has the soul of that. But it's funny. You can laugh at it and you can enjoy it and I think that once you can start laughing at something and once you go to the uncomfortable places, those are the times that you can really grow. When I saw the film, it did that for me. Even when I was watching it in the theater at a couple of test screenings, and every time I watched it, we got to the dinner table scene, there were audible gasps in the movie theatre, everybody in the theatre is like on pins and needles, doesn't know whether to laugh or not to. This is exactly what [we want]. I think everybody's getting real comfortable now with the state of race relationships, and we should not be comfortable yet. I mean, if it was all even, and if everything was cool, nobody would be uncomfortable in the theatre. And that's the whole point. It is uncomfortable and we've got a lot to do and it ain't all even yet and it's not all right and that's why the movie needs to be made, and I think that it does just that."
Yet, there is a bit more to Guess Who than just race. "I think now this movie works whether it's racially motivated or not. Every kid has to come eventually and meet their significant other's parents. Every parent has to eventually meet their children's pursuer."
Guess Who opens Friday.