A Closer Look at Ashton Kutcher
NOT THAT LONG AGO, ASHTON KUTCHER was stoned in Iowa. This is a condition distinct from that of his character Kelso on That ’70s Show, who is customarily stoned in Wisconsin, or even his character Jesse in Dude, Where’s My Car?, who, in a daring variation on a theme, is stoned in an unidentified state that looks a lot like California.
For Kutcher, being stoned in Iowa in 1996 meant sitting in a basement, listening to the Prodigy and White Zombie, grooving on the black-light posters. One night in such an environment, with nothing to go on except his altered consciousness, Kutcher declared that one day he would go on a date with Jennifer Aniston. When challenged by a friend, he bet a thousand dollars on the proposition.
“I was obsessed with her,” says Kutcher. “That photo of her with crossed legs from ROLLING STONE was my screen saver on my computer through college.”
Five years later, Kutcher, by then a successful young sitcom actor living in Hollywood, attended a party for the movie Moulin Rouge. He remembers, “I feel this presence, and it’s Brad Pitt walking in the room. Dude, he does have a presence.” A studio executive introduced Kutcher to Pitt; Kutcher promptly asked him if he could have permission to take his wife on a date. Pitt, unsurprisingly, just stared at him. Kutcher didn’t tempt Aniston to cheat or even obtain her phone number, but he insists, “I’ll never have to pay that bet off. I’ll go to my death still saying I’m going to take out Jennifer Aniston.”
This is life as Ashton Kutcher: He didn’t get Jennifer Aniston, but he did get out of the Iowa basement. After five years on That ’70s Show, whose season finale on May 14th will see the cast graduate, finally, from high school, Kutcher’s film career is still on the launching pad. So he created another TV show, Punk’d, a hit for MTV that features Kutcher orchestrating practical jokes on other celebrities while the hidden cameras roll. The show punk’d Justin Timberlake by convincing him that all his possessions were being confiscated for back taxes and punk’d Eliza Dushku by making her believe that she was about to get busted for shoplifting.
The idea for Punk’d came out of Kutcher’s inferiority complex. When he’s in a room with other famous people, Kutcher doesn’t feel like he belongs. He says, “I feel like the butler, like I should be serving people and not sitting at the table. That’s why I like doing Punk’d — I get to meet all these celebrities.” Kutcher, 25, has shaggy good looks, an unusually broad forehead and a talent for playing genial morons. Oh — and he’s a former model. This means that if most members of the American public have thought about his personality at all, they assume he’s a sweet but dim guy who walks around in a cloud of marijuana smoke.
In fact, Kutcher is the hardest-working prankster in Hollywood; he stopped smoking weed five years ago because he wanted to get more done. “His work ethic is sickening; it’s out of control,” says Jason Goldberg, the co-creator of Punk’d. Kutcher is doing two TV shows simultaneously, developing a slate of movies and periodically hitting the town — although Kutcher says he always ends up talking business. He sleeps approximately five hours a night.
“I would prefer people have low expectations of me,” Kutcher says. “I think that’s an advantage.”
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