Ashton Kutcher

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Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher by David Shankbone.jpg
Kutcher at the Time 100 Gala, June 2010
Born Christopher Ashton Kutcher
(1978-02-07) February 7, 1978 (age 36)
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S.
Education Washington High School
Clear Creek Amana High School
Occupation Actor, producer, model, investor
Years active 1998–present
Net worth US $140 million (as of March 2013)[1]
Spouse(s) Demi Moore (m. 2005–13)
Partner(s) Mila Kunis
(2012–present; engaged)

Christopher Ashton Kutcher (/ˈkʊər/; born February 7, 1978)[2] is an American actor, investor, producer, and former model.[3][4][5] He is known for his portrayal of Michael Kelso in the Fox sitcom That '70s Show. He also created, produced, and hosted Punk'd and had lead roles in the Hollywood films Jobs, Dude, Where's My Car?, Just Married, The Butterfly Effect, The Guardian, and What Happens in Vegas. Kutcher currently stars as Walden Schmidt on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, since Charlie Sheen's firing from the show in 2011.

Early life

Kutcher was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Diane (Finnegan), a Procter & Gamble employee, and Larry M. Kutcher, a factory worker.[6][7] His father is of Czech descent and his mother is of Irish, German, and Czech ancestry.[8][9] Kutcher was raised in a "relatively conservative" Catholic family.[10] He has an older sister named Tausha and a fraternal twin brother named Michael, who had a heart transplant when the brothers were young children. Michael also has cerebral palsy and is a spokesperson for the advocacy organization Reaching for the Stars.[11]

Michael's cardiomyopathy caused his home life to become increasingly stressful. He has stated that he "didn't want to come home and find more bad news about" his brother, and "[I] kept myself so busy that I didn't allow myself to feel".[12] Kutcher stated that when he was 13, he contemplated committing suicide in order to save his brother's life with a heart transplant; when he told his father he was considering jumping from a Cedar Rapids hospital balcony, his father dissuaded him from doing so shortly before doctors announced that a transplant had become available from an accident victim in another state.[13] Kutcher attended Washington High School in Cedar Rapids for his freshman year, before his family moved to Homestead, Iowa, where he attended Clear Creek Amana High School. During high school, he developed a passion for acting and appeared in school plays. However, Kutcher's home life worsened as his parents divorced when he was 16. During his senior year, he broke into his high school at midnight with his cousin in an attempt to steal money; he was arrested leaving the scene. Kutcher was convicted of third-degree burglary and sentenced to three years' probation and 180 hours of community service. Kutcher stated that although the experience "straightened him out", he lost his girlfriend and anticipated college scholarships, and he was ostracized at school and in his community.[14]

Kutcher enrolled at the University of Iowa in August 1996, where his planned major was biochemical engineering, motivated by the desire to find a cure for his brother's heart ailment.[7] At college, Kutcher was kicked out of his apartment for being too "noisy" and "wild".[15] Kutcher stated, "I thought I knew everything but I didn't have a clue. I was partying, and I woke up many mornings not knowing what I had done the night before. I played way too hard. I am amazed I am not dead."[16] To earn money for his tuition, Kutcher worked as a college summer hire in the cereal department for the General Mills plant in Cedar Rapids, and sometimes sold his blood.[17] During his time at UI he was approached by a model scout at a bar[18] called "The Airliner" in Iowa City and was recruited to enter the "Fresh Faces of Iowa" modeling competition. After placing first, he dropped out of college and won a trip to New York City to the International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA) Convention. Following his stay in New York City, Kutcher returned to Cedar Rapids, before relocating to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting.[15]

Career

Modelling career

After participating in an IMTA competition (losing to Josh Duhamel) in 1998, Kutcher signed with Next modeling agency in New York, appeared in ads for Calvin Klein, and modeled in Paris and Milan.[19]

Television and film career

Kutcher with Two and a Half Men co-star Jon Cryer in September 2011

After his success in modeling, Kutcher moved to Los Angeles after his first audition,[20] was cast as Michael Kelso in the television series That '70s Show, from 1998 and to 2006. Kutcher was cast in a series of film roles; although he auditioned but was not cast for the role of Danny Walker in Pearl Harbor (2001) (the role went to Josh Hartnett), he starred in several comedy films, including Dude, Where's My Car? (2000), Just Married (2003), and Guess Who (2005). He appeared in the 2003 family film, Cheaper By The Dozen, playing a self-obsessed actor. His 2004 film The Butterfly Effect was a dramatic role for Kutcher, playing a conflicted young man who time travels; the film received mixed to negative reviews, but was a box office success.[14]

In 2003, Kutcher produced and starred in his own series, MTV's Punk'd, as the host. The series involved hidden camera tricks performed on celebrities. He is also an executive producer of the reality television shows Beauty and the Geek, Adventures in Hollyhood (based around the rap group Three 6 Mafia), The Real Wedding Crashers, and the game show Opportunity Knocks. Many of his production credits, including Punk'd, come through Katalyst Films, a production company he runs with partner Jason Goldberg.[21] A 2004 interviewer described Kutcher as a "hunky young actor [who] is heading in all different directions at once", including "the hot L.A. restaurant Dolce":

"If anything, I'm a trier," says Kutcher between puffs of filtered Lucky Strikes. "I think, more than anything, it comes from the fact that my father always had several irons in the fire. Also, I don't want to fail. If something doesn't work out—if That '70s Show got canceled or if I wasn't going to have a film career—I always wanted to have backup contingency plans. So I just started doing other things; and on a half-hour sitcom, you're really only working for 30 hours a week. It allows a lot of time for sitting around, which I always kind of filled with work."[22]

Because of scheduling conflicts with the filming of The Guardian, Kutcher was forced not to renew his contract for the eighth and final season of That '70s Show, although he did appear in the first four episodes of it (credited as a special guest star) and returned for the series finale.[14] Kutcher produced and starred in the 2010 action comedy, Killers, in which he played a hitman.[23] In May 2011, Kutcher was announced as Charlie Sheen's replacement on the series Two and a Half Men.[24] Kutcher's contract was for one year and was believed to be worth nearly $20 million.[25] His debut as the character Walden Schmidt, entitled "Nice to Meet You, Walden Schmidt", was seen by 28.7 million people on September 19, 2011. The Nielsen ratings company reported that figure was more than any episode in the show's first eight seasons, when Sheen starred in it.[26][27] As of August 2013, Kutcher earns $750,000 an episode.[28]

Venture capitalism and investment career

Kutcher speaking at Y Combinator's Startup School in October 2011

Beyond the entertainment world, Kutcher is also a venture capitalist and has had a highly successful career doing so. Kutcher has also successfully invested in several high technology startups.[29][30] Some of his investments include Skype, Foursquare, Airbnb, Path and Fab.com.[31] He is a co-founder of the venture capital firm A-Grade Investments.[32] On October 29, 2013, Lenovo announced that it has hired Kutcher as product engineer.[33]

Kutcher was part of the management team for Ooma, a tech start-up launched in September 2007. Ooma is in the Voice over Internet Protocol business and Kutcher's role was as Creative Director. He spearheaded a marketing campaign and produced viral videos to promote this service. Kutcher also created an interactive arm of Katalyst called Katalyst Media, with his partner from Katalyst Films, Jason Goldberg. Their first site was the animated cartoon Blah Girls. Ooma revamped its sales and marketing strategy with a new management team in the summer of 2008, replacing Kutcher as their creative director. Rich Buchanan, from Sling Media, became Ooma's Chief Marketing Officer.

Restaurant

Kutcher has invested in an Italian restaurant, Dolce[14] (other owners include Danny Masterson and Wilmer Valderrama) and a Japanese-themed restaurant named Geisha House with locations in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York City.

Other work

In 2009, Kutcher established an international human rights organization with his then wife, Demi Moore. DNA Foundation, later known as Thorn, works to address the sexual exploitation of children and the proliferation of child pornography on a global scale.[34]

On March 23, 2011, Kutcher launched his own Twitter client with UberMedia, called A.plus. While the app was initially available exclusively for desktop computers with Adobe Air installed, it eventually became available on mobile platforms, for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. In order to download on one of the 3 mobile platforms, users must first have the UberSocial client installed on their device, and then proceed to the device's browser to download A.plus.[35][36]

Personal life

Relationships

Kutcher and Moore, September 2008

In 2003, Kutcher began dating actress Demi Moore. Kutcher and Moore married on September 24, 2005,[37] in a private ceremony conducted by a Rabbi of the Kabbalah Center. The wedding was attended by about 150 close friends and family of the couple, including Bruce Willis, Moore's ex-husband.[38] On November 17, 2011, Moore announced her intention to end the marriage.[39] After over a year of separation, Kutcher filed for divorce from Moore on December 21, 2012, in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences.[40] The divorce was finalized on November 27, 2013.[37]

Kutcher began dating his former That '70s Show co-star Mila Kunis in April 2012.[41] In February 2014, it was reported that Kutcher and Kunis had become engaged.[42] In May 2014, Kunis confirmed that she and Kutcher are also expecting their first child together.[43]

Interests and beliefs

Kutcher is a self-described fiscal conservative and social liberal.[44] He has been a student of Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah), for several years.[45] His No Strings Attached co-star, Natalie Portman, stated in 2011 that Kutcher "has taught me more about Judaism than I think I have ever learned from anyone else".[46] In trips to Israel, Kutcher visited Kabbalah centers in Tel Aviv and in Tsfat.[45] In 2013, Kutcher remarked that "Israel is near and dear to my heart..... coming to Israel is sort of coming back to the source of creation – trying to get closer to that. And as a creative person, going to the source of creation is really inspiring. And this place has been really inspiring for me – not only on a spiritual level, but also on an artistic and creative level."[47] On September 17, 2008, Kutcher was named the assistant coach for the freshman football team at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. However, he was unable to return in 2009 because he was filming Spread.[48][49] In February 2011, Kutcher sold his Hollywood Hills home, which he originally bought in 2004.[50] In April 2012, Kutcher became the 500th paying customer to sign up to ride Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.[51]

Twitter presence

On April 16, 2009, Kutcher became the first user of Twitter to have more than 1,000,000 followers,[52] beating CNN in the site's "Million followers contest".[53][54] Kutcher announced via Twitter that he would be donating $100,000 to a charity to fight malaria. However, there have been several reports that Twitter manipulated the contest's results by preventing users from "unfollowing" Kutcher or CNN.[55] In November 2011, Kutcher received much criticism for his tweet in response to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal calling the firing of Penn State Nittany Lions football coach Joe Paterno in "poor taste".[56] Kutcher subsequently turned over management of his Twitter account to his team at the Katalyst Media company.[57]

Controversy

In April 2011, Kutcher and wife Demi Moore began a public service announcement campaign claiming that "Real Men" do not engage the services of child prostitutes who are the victims of human trafficking.[58] Kutcher's claims that 100,000 to 300,000 American children were sold into sexual slavery were criticized by newspaper the Village Voice, which gave evidence refuting the claims. Kutcher may have understood a study referring to minors "at risk" for sexual exploitation as referring to children actually being prostituted. Experts estimate the true numbers to be in the hundreds, not the hundreds of thousands.[59] Kutcher reacted to the criticism by accusing the Village Voice of promoting child prostitution and using Twitter to request that Village Voice advertisers including American Airlines, Disney, the City of Seattle, and Domino's Pizza withdraw their advertising from publications owned by the Voice's parent company.[60][61]

Filmography

Films

Year Film Role Notes
1999 Coming Soon Louie
2000 Down to You Jim Morrison
2000 Reindeer Games College Kid
2000 Dude, Where's My Car? Jesse Montgomery III
2001 Texas Rangers George Durham
2003 Just Married Tom Leezak
2003 My Boss's Daughter Tom Stansfield
2003 Cheaper by the Dozen Hank Uncredited
2004 The Butterfly Effect Evan Treborn
2005 Guess Who Simon Green
2005 A Lot Like Love Oliver Martin
2006 Bobby Fisher
2006 The Guardian Jake Fischer
2006 Open Season Elliot Voice
2008 What Happens in Vegas Jack Fuller
2009 Spread Nikki
2009 Personal Effects Walter
2010 Valentine's Day Reed Bennet
2010 Killers Spencer Aimes
2011 No Strings Attached Adam Franklin
2011 New Year's Eve Randy
2013 Jobs Steve Jobs

Television

Year Show Role Notes
1998–2006 That '70s Show Michael Kelso 184 episodes
Main role (Seasons 1–7)
Recurring guest (Season 8)
2001 Just Shoot Me Dean Cassidy 1 episode
2002 Grounded for Life Cousin Scott 1 episode
2003–07, 2012 Punk'd Himself Creator, host, producer
2005 Robot Chicken Michael Kelso, Michael Knight, Templeton 'Faceman' Peck, TiVo Addict 3 episode, voice
2008 Miss Guided Beaux 7 episodes
2011–present Two and a Half Men Walden Schmidt Lead role (Season 9-present)
2013 Men at Work Eric The Fisherman Uncredited; Episode: Long Distance Tyler

As a producer

Year Title Role Notes
2003–2007, 2012 Punk'd Executive producer 79 episodes
2003 My Boss's Daughter Co-producer
2004 The Butterfly Effect Executive producer
2004 You've Got a Friend Executive producer 8 episodes
2005–2008 Beauty and the Geek Executive producer 48 episodes
2007 Adventures in Hollyhood Executive producer 8 episodes
2007 Miss Guided Executive producer 7 episodes
2007 Game Show in My Head Executive producer 8 episodes
2007 The Real Wedding Crashers Executive producer 7 episodes
2007 Room 401 Executive producer 8 episodes
2008 Pop Fiction Executive producer 1 episodes
2008–2009 Opportunity Knocks Executive producer 3 episodes
2009 True Beauty Executive producer 4 episodes
2009 The Beautiful Life Executive producer 5 episodes
2009 Spread
2010 Killers Executive producer
2012–2013 Rituals Executive producer 3 episodes
2013–present Forever Young Executive producer 6 episodes

Awards

References

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External links