Christopher Who? The Real Ashton Kutcher
When Christopher Ashton Kutcher was born on February 7, 1978, he brought two surprises for his parents. One was a couple of webbed toes on his left foot, and the other was a fraternal twin brother, Michael. Raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the young Ashton Kutcher enjoyed a typical all-American upbringing, right down to the prominent role he played on his high school wrestling team. After an injury put an end to his wrestling, Kutcher took an interest in biochemical engineering, which would later be his major at Iowa State—the school once attended by Gene Wilder, Mary Beth Hurt, and Ben Rollins.
While at college, Ashton Kutcher frequently struggled to make ends meet, occasionally selling his blood to cover expenses. While he didn't find the coursework difficult, Kutcher began to develop other interests. It was in 1997 that he won the "Fresh Faces of Iowa" modeling contest and decided to embark on a modeling tour of New York. He left the University of Iowa and never looked back.
Ashton Kutcher's career as a model took him places he never would have seen as a biochemist. In 1998, he landed an audition at NBC for the pilot episode of an exciting new show called "Wind on Water." He did well, and was offered the leading role—that of a surfing cowboy. Kutcher asked for time to consider his options, and was told NBC needed to know by 4 p.m. that Friday. At 3:45 p.m., Kutcher got word from his agent that he had landed a starring role on "Teenage Wasteland," later renamed "That '70s Show." "Wind on Water" was canceled after its second episode.
By the end of the first season of "That '70s Show," it was clear that Ashton Kutcher's character, "Michael Kelso," was the breakout hit of the series. Gradually, the writers began assigning more and more screen time to Kelso, even writing whole episodes revolving around him. As a fan favorite, Kutcher suddenly had a lot of capital in Hollywood. Offers began coming in from TV and movie studios alike. While he was passed over for the lead in "Pearl Harbor," Kutcher did eventually land starring roles in a number of light comedies such as "Just Married," "Guess Who," and "Dude, Where's My Car?"
His breakout from the typecast pretty-boy comedic roles began with the family classic "Cheaper by the Dozen," in 2003, in which he played a narcissistic actor—a dream role for any leading man in Hollywood. Kutcher's transition to serious roles reached a peak in 2004's "The Butterfly Effect." The film, which deals with such weighty philosophical issues as time travel, causality, and whether the future is fixed, debuted to mixed reviews but was successful at the box office. While the reviews for the movie itself were not uniformly positive, Kutcher clearly retained his audience appeal, with one noted critic referring to his "amazing turn" in the film.
Kutcher has continued to make a string of successful films, always demonstrating that most precious of commodities in Hollywood—the ability to draw an audience. Kutcher's successes haven't been restricted to just one side of the camera. In 2003, he produced and starred in MTV's wildly successful show "Punk'd," in which some celebrities played practical jokes on other celebrities. Ashton Kutcher, along with long-time partner Jonah Goldberg, runs his own production company, Katalyst Films, which has built a reputation for producing solid, profitable films.
On the side, Ashton Kutcher had time for a high-profile celebrity marriage to actress Demi Moore. The couple was so close that Moore's three children took to calling him "MOD," short for "My Other Dad." Sadly, the couple would file for divorce in 2012. The proceedings quickly spilled across the tabloids, making an already difficult situation even more challenging.
Along with Demi Moore, Kutcher has been active in the international struggle against the exploitation of at-risk children, especially from sex trafficking. Kutcher and Moore cofounded the DNA Foundation to fund and educate workers around the world who are engaged with the issue. With their divorce, the future of the Foundation remains in doubt.
The life and times of Christopher Ashton Kutcher reads as an almost uninterrupted story of success piled on top of success. By bringing talent and hard work to his chosen path—along with stumbling into the occasional very lucky break—Ashton Kutcher is the very model of the rising star. Whatever his future holds, it seems likely that he'll be up to the challenge.