Actress Mila Kunis attended the 2011 Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Greenville, N.C., after Sgt. Scott Moore invited her via YouTube while he was deployed in Afghanistan. Kunis' acceptance led to other Marines trying their hand at celebrity invites. From left to right: Raul Perez, AJ Burwell, Brent Johnson, Brenton Hellyar, Mila Kunis, Scott Moore and Dan Costantino. (COURTESY OF SCOTT MOORE)
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Only a Marine would think to bring his date a bottle of vodka instead of a corsage.
Sgt. Scott Moore knew the woman accompanying him to last year's Marine Corps Birthday Ball went out of her way to be with him in Greenville, N.C. When they spoke on the phone before the celebration, she told Moore, then fresh off a combat tour with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, that she'd likely be tired due to her busy work schedule.
But don't worry, she added. It'd be nothing a little vodka couldn't fix.
Moore's date, of course, was actress Mila Kunis, whom Esquire magazine recently named "the sexiest woman alive." He invited her to the ball while he was in Afghanistan, filming a cheesy sorry, Scott 19-second video that he posted on YouTube. With a little help from Marine Corps Times, the clip went viral, causing a huge stir in the media and, arguably, an even bigger commotion throughout the Marine Corps.
To mark this year's birthday, the Corps' 237th, we tracked down Moore, 24, in search of the untold story from his date with the Hollywood bombshell. He obliged, answering all of our toughest questions.
Kunis was traveling outside the country, her publicist said, and was not available to comment.
Moore, who left active duty in April and is enrolled at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, described the actress as funny and laid back. Their night together started with a compliment and a confession, he said: She told him he looked handsome in his dress blues and that she was nervous. Out came the vodka, and the two downed a shot to take the edge off.
That moment was five months in the making, and the wait wasn't always easy, Moore said. Though his command was mostly supportive, even holding a briefing on how Marines should behave with a movie star present, he received some negative reactions from fellow Marines.
"I had some people sending emails who said they didn't appreciate what I did," Moore said. "A lot of guys thought it took away from the ball, which wasn't my intention."
The Birthday Ball, some told him, should've been a remembrance for the Marines who died during their deployment. Some of the guys upset with Moore outranked him, he said, so there wasn't much he could do. One master sergeant was particularly incensed, he said, and only recently stopped emailing him to convey his disapproval.
"He was a person I really respected and I thought respected me," Moore said. "He would email randomly telling me what a bad person I was and that our ball was turned into a red carpet event."
‘You can call me Scott'
Moore, then a data chief with 3/2 out of Camp Lejeune, N.C, was in Musa Qaleh when he filmed the invite. Decked out in battle rattle and ballistic sunglasses, he looked into the camera and said: "Hey, Mila. It's Sergeant Moore, but you can call me Scott." He'd told his buddies for months that he was going to ask out Kunis, and that he knew the secret to getting her attention.
"No one thought I would do it, and no one thought it would work," Moore said. "I knew I would do it. It was just a matter of being in Afghanistan that was the key ingredient."
After the video went viral, and before Kunis accepted, Moore received hundreds of propositions from ladies ready to take her place, he said. Media pressure on Kunis intensified. Then, during a press conference with actor Justin Timberlake to promote their film "Friends with Benefits," Kunis caught flak from a reporter, prompting Timberlake to say, "Do it for your country."
"I'll do it," she replied.
Timberlake also attended a Birthday Ball, in Washington, D.C., as the guest of Cpl. Kelsey De Santis, who invited him via video not long after Moore's request went viral.
Kunis arrived in North Carolina the day of the ball. She brought some friends to do her hair and makeup, and a security guard. Moore met her at the hotel where the ball was held. She looked taller than he expected, but otherwise he thought she looked like herself.
"She's obviously very attractive," he said. "I had her as my background picture on my computer in Afghanistan. She's fun to look at."
Kunis had a lot of questions about the Corps, Moore said, and seemed moved by a lance corporal who lost part of his legs and hand after he stepped on an improvised explosive device. Eventually, though, Moore had to tell some Marines to take a seat. The constant attention Kunis received, he said, was eye-opening.
"I snapped on this one lance corporal," he said. "I said, ‘Can't you see she's eating?' She appreciated that."
After dinner and some dancing to none other than the "Dirty Dancing" theme, "I Had the Time of My Life" Kunis said it was time to leave. She gave Moore a hug and kissed him on the cheek.
And then she was gone.
Moore knows he put Kunis on the spot, and said he feels a little sorry for all the celebs who've been the targets of copycat videos. One brazen lance corporal even asked First Lady Michelle Obama to join him for this year's celebration, though it's unclear whether she will.
Back home, Moore is something of a celebrity, he said. When people recognize him, all they want to discuss is Kunis.
Timberlake returned the favor to De Santis by taking her to the Spike TV's Guys' Choice Awards this past June. Moore and Kunis have stayed in touch by phone and email, he says, though they haven't spoken in awhile. They haven't had any more dates, and he doesn't expect they will.
"I attribute that," Moore said, "to the fact that I'm a poor college student living off the GI Bill while she shoots, like, seven movies a year."