Mila Kunis finally takes the lead in Jupiter Ascending
Given that she has been kicking around Hollywood for 20 years, it does seem strange that Mila Kunis has only just arrived at the top of her game.
Yes, she is famous.
Yes, she has been in more than 24 movies, plus two extremely popular long-running TV series (That '70s Show and Family Guy).
And yes, she is a Golden Globe nominee.
This year, the 31-year-old US actress, who has long been playing the girlfriend (Friends With Benefits, Ted), the baddie (Oz The Great And Powerful), the sidekick (The Book Of Eli) or the seductress (Black Swan), can finally boast a big-budget flick that she headlines.
Opening here tomorrow, Jupiter Ascending is a sci-fi saga from writers-directors Andy and Lana Wachowski (of The Matrix fame) that sees Kunis as the titular protagonist, a modern-day Cinderella who cleans toilets for a living.
She has a Prince Charming in the form of hunky Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered half-man-half-wolf who literally sweeps her off her feet and into another galaxy.
It turns out she is from another planet and is in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
Just as Jupiter battles power-hungry villains while contemplating her destiny, Kunis, who was the Wachowskis' first choice, seems pretty much in control of her life off-screen.
Jupiter has the girl-next-door appeal, an "average girl who's thrown into this environment and has to figure (it) out", said Kunis,, adding that she could relate to her circumstances.
"Sometimes you don't know which path to take or even what road you're on until something happens to make you realise there's more to life than this," she said.
Kunis' acting path appeared chosen for her from the start at least.
To improve her English, her Ukrainian immigrant parents signed her up for theatre workshops two years after the family moved to Los Angeles in 1991.
She was spotted by talent agent Susan Curtis, who is still Kunis' manager, and was signed on the spot. She was only nine.
At 14, she was cast in That '70s Show, which ran for a good eight seasons.
That sitcom was where she met her true-life Prince Charming, US actor Ashton Kutcher.
But she did not know it then.
They played a dysfunctional teenage couple on-screen, but were platonic pals in real life.
Kunis' long-time boyfriend was US actor Macaulay Culkin, while Kutcher dated US actress Demi Moore, whom he married in 2005.
Coincidentally, both ended their relationships in 2011. The best mates became an item a year after.
"I went through everything embarrassing that a girl can go through in front of my fiance," she told W magazine. "There's no question that he's seen the worst. I find that comforting."
After breaking out in That '70s Show, Kunis was determined to take control of her career, or what she called "a hobby".
"I have never wanted to be the person who only has business on her mind.
"To me, this job has always been a hobby that turned into a great profession. But I don't eat and breathe acting," she said.
Kunis has turned down offers for what she deemed stereotypical roles and has opted instead to audition for a variety of genres - horror, drama, action, romantic comedies - to demonstrate her range.
In an interview with The Star-Ledger, she said she "gravitates towards different things at different times".
Jupiter Ascending was up her alley because she is "a bit of a nerd" and loves science fiction, she told W.
"(The movie) is so smart, amazing and so much fun. There's a lot of action, and a beautiful love story.
"And even though it takes places in the most fantastical settings, everything feels so tangible and real. Also, there's a fair amount of sharp humour, which I love."
Jupiter Ascending, which opens in the US on Friday, has received little pre-publicity buzz and has had mixed feedback, but regardless of whether or not it will be a hit, it does not look like Kunis' trajectory will be affected.
Early US reviews have praised her ability to hold her own against Tatum and the busy visual spectacle, establishing herself as an engaging heroine.
Now, though, after carving her niche in Hollywood on her own terms as a versatile actress, the new mother is putting everything on hold for a year.
She and Kutcher, 36, have a daughter, Wyatt, and her focus is on being a hands-on mother to the four-month-old.
The couple have remained relatively low-key despite their celebrity.
She told talk show host Craig Ferguson during an appearance on the Late Late Show in December that "it is a luxury to be able to take time off work".
"I am able to be a stay-at-home mum with my kid and I do find that nowadays people can't do that.
"Everyone has to have a job and you have to have a two-person household.
"So I was able to take time off and actually raise my child, which I consider a blessing."