Also Credited As:Milena Markovna Kunis
|Milena Markovna Kunis on August 14, 1983 in Soviet Union|
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Born on Aug. 14, 1983 in Kiev, Ukraine, Kunis was raised by her father, Mark, a cab company executive and former mechanical engineer, and her mother, Elvira, a drug store manager and former physics teacher. When she was seven years old, her family moved from the collapsed Soviet Union to the United States, settling in Los Angeles, where she had an initially rough transition not knowing or understanding the language and the culture. Later, Kunis enrolled in after-school acting classes at Beverly Hills Studios while attending Hubert Howe Bancroft Middle School. Discovered by a manager while performing in an acting showcase, the young actress was soon cast in children's programs and television commercials including campaigns for Barbie and Payless shoes. Following her small screen debut on a 1994 episode of "Days of Our Lives" (NBC, 1965- ), Kunis began landing work on television shows like "The John Larroquette Show" (NBC, 1993-96), "Unhappily Ever After" (The WB, 1995-99) and "Hudson Street" (ABC, 1995-96). Kunis graduated from guest star to recurring roles with "Nick Freno, Licensed Teacher" (The WB, 1996-98) and "7th Heaven" (The WB, 1996-2006), before playing a young version of Angelina Jolie's titular role in "Gia" (HBO, 1998), the critically acclaimed biopic about the life of doomed supermodel Gia Carangi.
In a bold move, Kunis went on an audition for a role on the sitcom "That 70s Show" (Fox, 1998-2006) which required actresses be at least 18 years old; lying about her age - she was 14 at the time - Kunis managed to land the career-making role of Jackie Burkhart, a fast-talking, immature rich girl whose superficial advice occasionally turns out to be right. Eventually, producers figured out that she had fibbed about how old she was, but they also realized Kunis was the best actress to play the part, which she did over the course of the next eight years. Though she tired of playing the same character that long, Kunis nonetheless embraced the experience while continuing to branch out into other areas, including animation when she replaced Lacey Chabert in voicing Meg Griffin on Fox's "Family Guy." Though the series was initially cancelled in 2002, its popularity with viewers and performance in DVD sales led to the show's resurrection in May of 2005. Meanwhile, in 2001, Kunis graduated from Fairfax High School during the height of her sitcom's popularity and had a prominent supporting role in the teen comedy "Get Over It" (2001), starring Kirsten Dunst.
Continuing to branch out into other avenues, Kunis starred in the horror sequel "American Psycho II: All American Girl" (2002), playing the sole survivor of the first film's killer, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), who develops an unhealthy obsession with the serial killer mind and eventually becomes one herself. Disappointing to most fans of the original "American Psycho," Kunis' version was roundly panned by critics on its way to a straight-to-DVD release. So bad was the film that even the author of the source material, Bret Easton Ellis, denounced the sequel. In 2002, she began dating former child star, Macaulay Culkin, a relationship that became the subject of tabloid speculation, mainly over the idea of whether or not the two had been married, since they had been an exclusive item for so long. Meanwhile, she maintained a steady course in her acting career, playing the titular lead in "Tony N' Tina's Wedding" (2007), an adaptation of the long-running environmental theater comedy that was filmed three years earlier, screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2004 and finally received a limited theatrical release in 2007, only to quietly depart to DVD shelves soon after.
Over the years, the raven-haired beauty appeared in several music videos, including Aerosmith's single "Jaded" (2001) and for The Strokes' single "The End Has No End" (2003). Following "That '70s Show" leaving the air in 2006, her film career began to take off, with major roles in movies like "After Sex" (2007) and the decidedly unfunny comedy "Moving McAllister" (2007), which also starred Jon Heder and Rutger Hauer. After starring in the straight-to-DVD thriller "Boot Camp" (2007), Kunis had a suitable role as a love-struck receptionist who falls for a slovenly television composer (Jason Segel) unable to get over his longtime girlfriend (Kristen Bell) in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2008). Turning to video game adaptations, she co-starred opposite Mark Wahlberg in "Max Payne" (2008), playing the Russian spy, Mona Sax, who seeks revenge for her sister's murder. She next played a con artist who lands a job at a flavor-extract company in order to scam a recently injured employee (Clifton Collins, Jr.) in "Extract" (2009), starring Jason Bateman and directed by Mike Judge. Following supporting turns in the comic book-turned-action movie "The Book of Eli" (2010) and the winning comedy "Date Night" (2010), Kunis was paired opposite Natalie Portman as rival ballet dancers in Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" (2010). While the lion's share of praise fell on Portman for her role as the more innocent ballerina, Kunis earned her share of accolades for her darker turn, as well as Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress.