Who Is Ashton Kutcher?
After an early modeling career, Ashton Kutcher rose to fame in the late 1990s as Michael Kelso on the sitcom That '70s Show. Kutcher followed by creating MTV's hit reality show Punk'd and went on to headline films like Dude, Where's My Car?, The Butterfly Effect, No Strings Attached and Jobs. He returned to sitcoms in 2011 with Two and a Half Men and began starring in the TV series The Ranch in 2016.
Born Christopher Ashton Kutcher on February 7, 1978, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Ashton Kutcher started out as a model, later becoming a popular actor and successful producer. He was born minutes ahead of his fraternal twin brother, Michael, to factory workers Larry and Diane Kutcher.
At the age of 13, Kutcher was dealt two painful blows: His parents divorced and his twin brother had to undergo emergency heart transplant surgery after his heart was badly damaged by a virus.
Kutcher, his brother, and their older sister, Tausha, stayed with their mother after the split. When their mother remarried, they moved to Homestead, a small farm community. In his new hometown, Kutcher continued to pursue his interest in acting, appearing in school productions. After his high school days drew to a close, Kutcher's rebellious side emerged. He was arrested for breaking into his school in his senior year and spent a lot of time partying.
After graduating in 1996, Kutcher enrolled at the University of Iowa, where he studied biochemical engineering. He joined a fraternity and continued his partying ways for the first few months, before hitting the books. In addition to his studies, Kutcher held a number of odd jobs to pay for school, including sweeping up cereal dust at a General Mills factory.
Before being approached by a talent scout, Kutcher knew nothing of the world of male modeling, but that would change soon after he entered and won the Fresh Faces of Iowa modeling contest in 1997. This took him to New York City, where he signed with a modeling agency. Some of his most famous gigs as a model were for designer Calvin Klein and the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. During the Abercrombie & Fitch shoot, Kutcher met his future girlfriend, model and actress January Jones.
Kutcher returned to modeling in 2008 as part of an advertising campaign for Pepe Jeans London. He was back on the runway again in 2011, modeling in Brazil for the Colicci fashion label.
Big Break: 'That '70s Show'
In the spring of 1998, Kutcher landed his breakthrough role on the popular retro sitcom That '70s Show. The comedy followed the life of Eric Forman (Topher Grace) and his friends through their teenage years in the small town of Point Place, Wisconsin. Appearing as the adorable but dense Michael Kelso, Kutcher won over fans his broad humor and good looks. Mila Kunis played his on-again, off-again on-screen girlfriend, Jackie, and Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon and Wilmer Valderrama rounded out the rest of the cast as Steven Hyde, Donna Pinciotti and Fez, respectively. The young actors on the show developed a strong bond and were often seen out together in Los Angeles.
Producer: 'Punk'd,' 'Beauty and the Geek'
In 2003, Kutcher served as co-creator and executive producer of the MTV network's hit reality show Punk'd. Preying on unsuspecting stars, Punk'd played practical jokes on the likes of Justin Timberlake, Hilary Duff and Tyra Banks during its eight seasons on the air. Two years later, Kutcher headed another reality TV show, Beauty and the Geek, which brought together smart, socially challenged men and beautiful, less intelligent women, who worked together toward the show's grand prize.
'Two and a Half Men'
In 2011, after Charlie Sheen was fired from Two and a Half Men, Kutcher took over the co-starring gig in the role of internet entrepreneur billionaire Walden Schmidt. Kutcher's one-year contract was rumored to be at $20 million. When the first episode with Kutcher aired in September, an estimated 28.7 million people tuned in, the highest ratings of any episode that Sheen had been on in the previous eight seasons. Kutcher ended up staying on the show through 2015, earning $750,000 per episode.
In 2016, Kutcher began starring in the Netflix sitcom The Ranch as Colt Bennett, a failed pro football player who returns home to his family farm in rural Colorado. The show also stars Sam Elliott and Debra Winger as Bennett's parents, and originally featured fellow That '70s Show alumn Danny Masterson as his brother before Masterson left amid sexual assault allegations in December 2017. The Ranch aired its final episode in January 2020.
'Dude, Where's My Car?'
Following appearances in the romantic comedy Down to You (2000) and the crime drama Reindeer Games (2000), Kutcher didn't stray far from his television image for his first leading role: He played a wacky stoner, Jesse Montgomery III, who, along with friend Chester Greenburg (Seann William Scott), tries to retrace the previous night's events in Dude, Where's My Car? (2000). While it was derided by critics, the comedy was a box-office success, and Kutcher, subsequently, developed a large fan base. That same year, the actor was named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People."
'My Boss's Daughter,' 'Just Married,' 'The Butterfly Effect'
Kutcher's follow-up film, Texas Rangers (2001), failed to make much of an impression on audiences or critics. Bouncing back soon after, he appeared in two romantic comedies: My Boss's Daughter and Just Married (both released in 2003). Tackling more dramatic fare, in 2004 Kutcher starred in The Butterfly Effect, also serving as an executive producer on the science-fiction film. The movie, which revolved around a young man who can travel back into his own past to change the course of events, did well at the box office, bringing in around $60 million.
'Guess Who,' 'A Lot Like Love,' 'The Guardian'
Returning to the romantic-comedy genre in 2005, the actor starred in Guess Who, with Zoe Saldana and comedian Bernie Mac, and then in A Lot Like Love, with Amanda Peet. Trying his hand at action, Kutcher appeared in The Guardian (2006) with Kevin Costner, a film about the U.S. Coast Guard. Kutcher, who played a rescue swimmer in the film, underwent intensive physical training. "I used to be a pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker, so I had no endurance," he later told Cosmopolitan magazine. Also in 2006, Kutcher took on something less physically taxing: lending his voice to the animated film Open Season.
'What Happens in Vegas,' 'Personal Effects,' 'No Strings Attached'
In 2008, Kutcher starred in What Happens in Vegas, with Cameron Diaz, and the drama Personal Effects, with Michelle Pfeiffer. On the producing side, he worked on the ABC sitcom Miss Guided (2008), which was canceled after only one season. Kutcher later returned to film acting, appearing in the romantic comedies Killers (2010) and No Strings Attached (2011).
In 2012, Kutcher landed one of his most anticipated roles to date: playing legendary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in the 2013 biopic Jobs. The film also featured Josh Gad as fellow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, with Lesley Ann Warren, James Woods, Matthew Modine and Dermot Mulroney rounding out the cast.
Marriages and Children
On September 24, 2005, Kutcher wed Demi Moore in a small ceremony at their Beverly Hills home. Moore's three daughters from her previous marriage to actor Bruce Willis served as her bridesmaids and walked her down the aisle. While Kutcher was dating Moore, he became very close with her children, so much so that they refer to him as "MOD," or "My Other Dad." Kutcher also managed to develop a friendship with Moore's ex-husband, Willis, who was on hand for the nuptials.
Kutcher and Moore separated in the fall of 2011, but didn't officially part ways until nearly two years later, finally reaching a divorce settlement in 2013.
In 2012, Kutcher began dating Mila Kunis, his longtime That '70s Show co-star. The couple's engagement was announced in February 2014. In March, it was reported that Kutcher, 36, and Kunis, 30, were expecting a baby. Kunis gave birth to their daughter, Wyatt Isabelle Kutcher, on September 30, 2014. In 2015, Kunis and Kutcher were married over the Fourth of July weekend at the Secret Garden at Parrish Ranch in Oak Glen, California. On November 30, 2016, Kunis gave birth to their second child, a son named Dimitri Portwood Kutcher.
Businesses and Foundation
In addition to acting and producing, Kutcher has a range of business interests. He has invested in Los Angeles restaurants, Geisha House and Dolce, and serves as creative director of Ooma, a telephone device company.
In 2009, Kutcher and Moore founded DNA Foundation, later renamed Thorn, a human rights organization aimed at stopping human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. That year he also made history by having the first Twitter account to attract 1 million followers.
In February 2017, Kutcher spoke to the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee as chairman of Thorn to speak out against the sexual exploitation of children around the world and seek funding for his organization, which builds software to combat human trafficking. "Technology can be used to enable slavery, but technology can also be used to disable slavery," he said.
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