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Tragic Details About Mila Kunis' Life Behind The Scenes

Mila Kunis of "That '70s Show" fame has come a long way since her time on the period teen sitcom, with highly praised roles in such films as "Black Swan," "Bad Moms," and "Luckiest Girl Alive," among others. She has generally managed to stay in the public's good graces over the years, with her infectious charisma and charitable activism making her a fan favorite. However, as we've seen time and time again in Hollywood, fame and fortune don't grant anyone immunity from the tragedies and hardships of life.

Kunis, a Ukrainian immigrant who began her acting career at the young age of 9 with a role in a Barbie commercial, is no different in facing her fair share of challenges. She's had a harder life than many of her Hollywood peers, whether that's down to personal struggles or having to watch her loved ones suffer. From the discrimination she faced in her youth to the health scares that rocked her family, here are some tragic details about Mila Kunis.

Escaping anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union

Born to Jewish parents in Ukraine, Mila Kunis and her family moved to Los Angeles when she was 7 years old, driven by the pursuit of the American dream and the aspiration of a brighter future. However, their decision to relocate also held deeper significance, as they sought refuge from something sinister. Speaking from her personal experience, Kunis says the Jewish religion was suppressed while she was growing up in the city of Chernivtsi, formerly part of the Soviet Union. "After the Holocaust, in Russia you were not allowed to be religious," she told The Sun. "So my parents raised me to know I was Jewish. You know who you are inside." 

The presence of anti-Semitic graffiti around her school hit close to home, as her grandparents and many of her family were victims of the Holocaust. Now a mother of two, Kunis makes it a point to raise her children with the Jewish faith while involving them in religious practices. For the weekly Jewish celebration of Shabbat, for example, Kunis allows her children a sip of wine, per tradition. "My daughter has had a sip of wine since she was born," Kunis told Extra TV. "On Friday mornings [when she] wakes up and I'm like, 'It's Friday,' she goes, 'I can have wine?!'"

She cried every day after moving to America

Not long after arriving in the United States, Mila Kunis began her first day of second grade without knowing a word of English. As one can imagine, this made for a difficult transition. It was so difficult, in fact, that Kunis has blocked it out altogether. "I have no recollection of it," she told the Los Angeles Times. "It was because I cried every day. I didn't understand the culture. I didn't understand the people. I didn't understand the language."

Luckily for Kunis, she was able to find her footing after her first year. Her mother (who got a job in a pharmacy) and her father (who worked as a cab driver) sent her to acting classes to help with her English, and it proved to be a smart move. Her grasp of the language improved, and she quickly found a talent manager. It wasn't long before she began popping up in commercials and, eventually, in "That '70s Show," which she joined at the age of 14. Those difficult early years are now a distant childhood memory, and it's apparent just how far the star has come since she came to the United States with no English.

She was bullied about her looks as a child

It may be hard to believe someone like Mila Kunis has been bullied for the way she looks, but it's true. However, when you consider that this bullying occurred in the schoolyard at the hands of classmates, it becomes more understandable, given how unforgiving children can be. Speaking to OK! magazine (via the Independent), Kunis revealed that she was singled out for her distinctive features. "I grew into my face," she said. "I had a very funny looking face when I was little. I had like big eyes, big lips, big ears. But when I was little I was constantly being made fun of for having big eyes and that was awful. I used to come home crying: 'Why do I have big eyes?' And my parents were like: 'You're crazy!'"

Today, Kunis is known as one of the best-looking stars in Tinseltown, with outlets like Esquire, FHM, and The Sun all crowning her the sexiest woman in the world at different points over the years. However, accolades like that are not something the actor really concerns herself with. "You've got to base your career on something other than being FHM's top 100 No. 1 girl," she told the Los Angeles Times. "Your looks are going to die out, and then what's going to be left?" In more recent times, Kunis has had to contend with more bullying — this time from the tabloid press. In 2019, the National Enquirer criticized the star for her apparent weight loss, calling her "wraithlike" and quoting anonymous insiders who were supposedly worried about her health. Unsurprisingly, she neglected to comment when the tabloid reached out for comment.

She was underage when she had her first kiss on camera

The love story of Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher dates all the way back to the 1990s when the two met on the set of "That '70s Show," playing on-again-off-again couple Jackie Burkhart and Michael Kelso. The two kept it friendly until they reunited in 2012 after both going through separations with long-term partners and began casually seeing each other. Funnily enough, their situationship mirrored the eerily similar romcoms they starred in the year before — Kunis in "Friends with Benefits," and Kutcher in "No Strings Attached." Before long, however, things got more serious. By 2015, they were married and had already welcomed their first child. No fairy tale author could've written a more perfect happily ever after.

However, more recently, attitudes toward the beginnings of this Hollywood fairy tale have started to shift somewhat. This is down to an uncomfortable clip of Kunis and Kutcher on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" in 2002 that resurfaced online. In the clip, the two actors recount the story of their first kiss on screen — which also happened to be Kunis' first-ever kiss. "They were like, 'You guys are going to be making out in this scene.' And I'm thinking wait, this is slightly illegal," Kutcher says, with Kunis adding: "I've never kissed a guy. Ashton's attractive, and I was a 14-year-old little girl and I was extremely scared for my life." To make matters worse, their co-star Danny Masterson — who has since been sentenced to 30 years in prison for rape – offered to give Kutcher $10 if he made it a "French kiss," Kunis said.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Training for Black Swan took a real toll on Kunis

In 2010, Mila Kunis received well-deserved critical acclaim for her performance in the psychological thriller "Black Swan," starring opposite an equally impressive Natalie Portman. Leading up to the film, Kunis put in the work in order to properly get into shape and learn the art of ballet. She trained for four months straight, dancing seven days a week under the guidance of American Ballet Theatre coach Georgina Parkinson, with a focus on ballet, cardio, and Pilates. According to Kunis, the training was grueling, both physically and psychologically.

"I tore a ligament. I dislocated my shoulder. I have two scars on my back," she told W Magazine. On top of the intense physical exertion, Kunis was also put on a strict 1,200-calorie diet, the absolute minimum recommended calorie intake for a woman, according to health experts. She lost a shocking 20 pounds while preparing to shoot. The rigorous training paid off in the long run, resulting in a standout performance. Regardless, Kunis told W Magazine that she vowed never to dance again. "I'm a strong believer in mind over matter, but I didn't fully understand what that meant until this production. I was like, well — I wear heels; I can do this. I was wrong: Christian Louboutins are uncomfortable, but I screamed the first time I put on a pointe shoe."

Ending her long-term relationship with Macaulay Culkin

Before she got with Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis was in a committed relationship with "Home Alone" actor Macaulay Culkin. They were together for more than eight years before they split in 2011. Despite both being famous, the couple kept their relationship as private as possible. "I think we relish the privacy we do actually have and are able to sustain it," Kunis told Parade when she was still with Culkin. "We enjoy each other's company." Ultimately, it wasn't meant to be, and the two quietly separated around the time Kunis was promoting "Black Swan." Eventually, they announced the breakup, and when they did, they continued to respect each other's privacy and kept things vague. "The split was amicable, and they remain close friends," Kunis' rep told Page Six.

It turns out the split probably wasn't as amicable as that statement made it appear. Up until Kunis' appearance on the podcast "Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard" in 2018, where she opened up about her split from Culkin for the first time, fans could only guess about how the breakup went down. Now, we have a better idea — Kunis told Shepard how "terrible" it really was and that she regrets the way she acted in her 20s. "It's f***ed up what I did and it's f***ed up how I did it," she said. "When I got to be single I said, 'I just need to figure myself out.' I genuinely need to know why I did what I did, and, like, regroup myself as a human being."

She went blind in one eye

Some illnesses may not be apparent from someone's outward appearance, which is why it came as a surprise when Mila Kunis came forward about her prolonged struggles with chronic iritis, an eye inflammation that can cause pain, light sensitivity, headaches, and, in severe cases, partial or total vision loss. For Kunis, the illness resulted in blindness in one eye, the development of a cataract, and heterochromia, a condition in which the irises are different colors.

Kunis chose to keep her health condition a secret from the public for years due to personal reasons, but she eventually disclosed that she had undergone surgery to correct the issue. "I was blind in one eye for many years, and nobody knew," the actor revealed during a candid interview with Cosmopolitan magazine in January 2011 (via Today). "I'm not blind anymore. I had surgery a couple of months ago. They cut it open and dropped a new lens in there."

She was the victim of a hacker

Between 2010 and 2011, a series of celebrity hackings and wiretappings that became known as "Operation Hackerazzi" wreaked havoc on the lives of more than 50 individuals in the entertainment industry. Victims included Scarlett Johansson and Renee Olstead, both of whom had private photos leaked online and have been open about the impact it had on their lives. Mila Kunis was also among the celebrities targeted, and she courageously acknowledged being a victim of email and cellphone hacking, hoping to raise awareness about the gravity of the crime.

The perpetrator was named as Christopher Chaney, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his actions. "It's hard to fathom the mindset of a person who would accomplish all of this," U.S. District Judge S. James Otero said as he sentenced the then 36-year-old Florida resident to a decade behind bars (via CBS News). "These types of crimes are as pernicious and serious as physical stalking." Chaney was ordered to pay more than $200,000 in compensation.

Dealing with Ashton Kutcher's health scare

Yet another health crisis that significantly impacted Mila Kunis and her family revolved around her husband, Ashton Kutcher. The actor was diagnosed with the rare autoimmune condition vasculitis, which triggers inflammation within the blood vessels and can pose a severe threat to health. In a 2022 episode of the TV show "Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge," Kutcher opened up about his battle with vasculitis, the cause of which remains unknown. "Two years ago, I had this weird, super rare form of vasculitis that knocked out my vision," he said (via Today). "It knocked out my hearing. It knocked out all my equilibrium. You don't really appreciate it until it's gone."

Kutcher has managed to recover thanks to proper medical treatment and the unwavering support of his wife. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Kunis revealed what her mindset was like during the height of it all. "I don't think you have time to sit down and talk, you kinda just power through," she explained. "You go and deal with whatever health issue comes your way, but you still got kids, you still got a family, you have to live life. And I think that we are so fortunate to have one another, but as far as sitting there and incessantly talking about things, no. You gotta do."

Russia's invasion of Ukraine hit her hard

When Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Ukrainian-born Mila Kunis decided to speak out. Although Kunis considers herself an American "through and through" — she moved to the United States at age 7, after all — the invasion sparked something in her unlike anything she had experienced before. "This happens and I can't express or explain what came over me, but all of a sudden I genuinely was, like, 'Oh my God, I feel like a part of my heart just got ripped out,'" she said during an interview for the digital series "Conversations Above the Noise."

Immediately, she and Ashton Kutcher spoke up in support of Ukraine while noting the importance of avoiding villainizing the Russian people. "It's the people in power, not the people themselves," Kunis said (via Today). The two also started a GoFundMe in an effort to raise money to "provide an immediate impact on refugee and humanitarian aid efforts." Their fundraiser has raised more than $37 million to date, highlighting both the influential role of celebrities when championing noble causes and the surge of Western solidarity for Ukraine amid the invasion's devastating impact.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher have been criticized for supporting Danny Masterson

For years, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher were widely respected because of their advocacy for humanitarian causes. All of that came crashing down when character letters penned by Kunis and Kutcher in support of "That '70s Show" star Danny Masterson — who was subsequently convicted for raping two women — came to light. In the letters, the couple describes Masterson as a positive influence and older brother figure, among other praises. This prompted widespread criticism, and both Kutcher and Kunis stepped down from their roles at Thorn (the NPO Kutcher co-founded to combat child sexual exploitation) as a result.

In response to the backlash, the couple released an Instagram video to clarify their stance. "The letters were not written to question the legitimacy of the judicial system or the validity of the jury's ruling," they explained in the video. "We support victims. We have done this historically through our work and will continue to do so in the future." Their efforts did little to mitigate the fallout and potentially angered people further. Variety's chief TV critic Daniel D'Addario called the video "a bizarre document of contemporary fame," adding, "If the aim was to present us with a frank dose of Ashton and Mila letting us into their world, it missed the mark."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).