Long before you see Mila Kunis, you can hear her voice streaming from the other side of the restaurant. The 26-year-old actress is built like an elf, but her pipes have the declamatory blare of a bullhorn. Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy—to which Kunis has contributed the squawk of pubescent pariah Meg Griffin for nearly a decade—puts it this way: "There's no question that if you're standing next to a jet engine and having a conversation with Mila Kunis, you'll be able to hear her just fine."
There are Hollywood starlets who specialize in being wispy, evasive, mysterious. Kunis is not one of them. "I walk really heavy," she says when you finally shake hands, "and I talk really loud." Here at the counter of Musso & Frank's, the vintage grill on Hollywood Boulevard where she's been ordering the same breakfast (bacon, two eggs over easy, and a stack of flannel cakes) since she was 9 years old, she is so bracingly approachable that you might momentarily forget that she's, like, famous. She can tell you about shady corners in East L.A. where you'll find pupusas that are slid to customers under bulletproof glass and "$2 tacos that are soaked in grease." She was, for a while, so addicted to playing the video game World of Warcraft that she got all twitchy meeting up with folks in the real world—"I'd be like, 'Okay, are we done yet? Because I've gotta go home. Like, I really gotta go.'" She appears to have no clue what brand of jeans she's wearing. "You have to look at my ass and tell me," she says, rising up from her stool, arching her gamine back, and leaning over the counter to provide a clearer view. She suffers from an eye disease called iritis—"If you become my friend, then it becomes eye-ar-rhea," she says—and suggests that its similarity to glaucoma probably qualifies her for medical marijuana. Which leads her to this realization: "Oh my God, that would be the greatest story ever. What if our story's all about you and I getting legal marijuana and getting stoned? That would be like our own version of a Harold and Kumar adventure."
Video games. Greasy tacos. Wisecracks about scoring government-sanctioned weed. Meeting Mila Kunis gives you a glimpse of what might've happened if the Phoebe Cates character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High had somehow spawned a child with Jeff Spicoli. ("On top of all that," MacFarlane says, "she's a Star Trek nerd, which you don't often see in somebody that hot.") On the set of Extract, in which she plays the sneaky new temp at an extract factory, Kunis surprised director Mike Judge—the guy who first punctured the slacker consciousness with Beavis and Butt-head—by making knowing references to Rejected, a cult film by Don Hertzfeldt that Judge considers "one of the funniest animated shorts of all time." For an underground-comix geek, this was like learning that Catherine Zeta-Jones has a library full of Pekar and Crumb. "As beautiful as Mila is," Judge says wistfully, "you could believe that maybe she would cross paths with you in the real world."