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PEET, KUTCHER EXPERIMENT WITH OFF-SCREEN CHEMISTRY

Outwardly, it looks like Amanda Peet and Ashton Kutcher are an item. They stroll into an interview together, practically hand in hand. He's protective of her, she lets him pull her chair out for her. They pepper their banter to each other with "honey" and "sweetie."

On-screen, their director Nigel Cole says, "I'm amazed how sizzling the two of them come across when they're together. I wish I could take credit for that."

Of course, Kutcher is teamed with actress Demi Moore in real life, and Peet has no comment about her personal life. Yet the two of them are aware that they come across well as a couple who dance around their feelings for each other over a seven-year period in their latest movie, "A Lot Like Love."

"We actually read an actress in Los Angeles, and it wasn't working," Kutcher begins.

"You read 20 people," Peet interrupts. "You can tell the truth."

"We read other actresses and the chemistry wasn't just right," continues Kutcher. "We wanted someone who had the combination to be vulnerable, but also to be funny. I've seen Amanda and she's beautiful, very funny and able to be vulnerable."

Peet looks at her co-star skeptically as if she's being "Punk'd" and then says, "I guess that when we auditioned with each other we fell in love with each other, or I fell in love with Ashton."

In the story, Kutcher's character meets Peet's character on an airplane, and they have a quick sexual encounter in a tiny bathroom. She's a New York Goth-like character and he's a kid who's still living at home. They reconnect over a period of years and eventually realize their encounters feel a lot like a real love for each other.

Peet says her character's early years remind her of growing up in New York.

"I was a hipster, kind of an artsy person, it was my Goth phase -- or at least I tried to be like that," she said. "Actually, I was kind of a prude in high school, and I did my homework and I went to college. But I identified with this artsy, tough girl."

In reality, both of the young actors are rather cynical about love. Kutcher, 27, admits, "I'm somewhat of a love cynic in that I don't know if it's truly 100 percent attainable every day, but I think that to me love is when your desire for someone else is greater than your desire for yourself -- or equal to that."

Peet, 33, adds, "I certainly don't believe in love at first sight. I definitely believe in a lot of chemistry and lust at first sight. But I think that love is something that takes work. As you can see in the movie, I think that timing is everything."

Both of the actors admit doing crazy things for love.

Peet laughs, "I've tried to make a move at the wrong time. I've thrown pebbles at someone's window. I've gone after them when there's another woman in the picture."

And Kutcher recalls a long-distance relationship. "One of the craziest things I did was when I was in Canada shooting a film and I flew in to Los Angeles for 30 minutes to see a person and then flew back out to Canada. I had a 30-minute window where I could see them, and they weren't there. They showed up with about 15 minutes to go. And then I had my 15 minutes and I was gone."

Kutcher says his more-than-15-minutes in the fame spotlight is always a bit stunning to him.

"I often wonder what I'm doing here," he said. "Why am I sitting in front of this microphone talking to you? Why me?"

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