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Why Ashton Kutcher Doesn't Get Many Movie Offers Anymore

Ashton Kutcher first became a household name thanks to his breakthrough television role as the lovable doofus Michael Kelso in the hit sitcom "That '70s Show," but he's also attempted to gain some traction on the big screen — with mixed results. Lately, Kutcher's movie roles have seemed fewer and further between; with that in mind, here are some theories as to why Hollywood doesn't have much room for him at the box office anymore.

He started as a small screen sensation

Viewers might have been split between Team Kelso and Team Hyde when it came to Jackie's love life throughout "That '70s Show," but Kutcher's on-screen presence as the jovial bonehead simply could not be denied. The show catapulted the then-21-year-old into instant fame, and he went on to solidify his status as a small-screen A-lister by co-creating MTV's docu-reality prank series "Punk'd," where his rolodex full of famous people came in handy as he pulled practical jokes on all his new Hollywood pals. He even single-handedly brought mesh trucker hats back into style.

But his movies haven't been as well received

Although Kutcher did have some initial success translating his slapstick humor to the big screen in 2000's "Dude, Where's My Car?" and he charmed alongside Brittany Murphy in 2003's "Just Married" — both films earned scathing reviews.

Kutcher tried to turn things around with a starring role in the 2004 time-travel thriller "The Butterfly Effect," but while the movie made a nice chunk of change, his Tomatometer average wasn't exactly improved as a result of the arguably underrated flick. Collectively, Kutcher's filmography has since been marred with pan upon pan by reviewers, and none of his movies — except for the 2014 documentary "The Man Who Saved the World," which he barely appeared in — have ever even broken the 50% threshold in their Rotten Tomatoes scores.

He's also been typecast

Some of Kutcher's biggest commercial successes on the silver screen have remained in the comedic realm, including his 2008 rom-com with Cameron Diaz, "What Happens in Vegas," his part in Garry Marshall's 2010 ensemble dramedy "Valentine's Day," and his "friends with benefits" film with Natalie Portman, 2011's "No Strings Attached."

In each of those movies, Kutcher's quirky demeanor helped his characters stick, and although none of them were as dimwitted as Michael Kelso or his "Dude" persona Jesse Montgomery III, they also weren't exactly Mensa material. Put simply: His fans seem to prefer when Kutcher's on-screen characters stick to the most basic levels of intelligence. His titular turn in 2013's "Jobs," a much-hyped Steve Jobs biopic, failed to resonate with audiences or critics.

His return to TV was ... not so triumphant

As his film momentum slowed, Kutcher made what was poised to be a "winning" return to television in 2011, replacing Charlie Sheen on "Two and a Half Men" after Sheen alienated creator-producer Chuck Lorre with his antics and was booted from the hit sitcom. Despite the fact that Kutcher seemed like an ideal addition to the show, which boasted sky-high viewership during Sheen's tenure, ratings rapidly declined. Kutcher again tried his hand at the big screen with a supporting role in 2014's "Annie" revival, but that film was a disappointment with critics and audiences alike, and he again returned to TV with the Netflix sitcom "The Ranch" in 2016.

The Ranch put him out to pasture

Netflix's "The Ranch" had the potential to present a true return to form for Ashton Kutcher. The buddy comedy series featured Kutcher opposite Danny Masterson from "That '70s Show" as brothers who learned to work together on their family's ranch after Kutcher's character Colt Bennett spent years away being a football stud. Like Kelso and Hyde, the two brothers were polar opposites of one another, and the best jokes were often made at Kutcher's expense. Reviews for the series were mostly middling, however.

Making matters worse, Masterson was accused of sexual assault by multiple women in 2017 and was ultimately fired from the series mid-production as a result of public outcry over his continued involvement in the show. Not only was Kutcher's TV comeback unable to return him to his status as a staple of small screen comedy, but the show was marred with a major #MeToo era controversy as well.

Capital ventures

While Kutcher's on-camera career has started to wane, he's found a new calling as a technology aficionado. He credits his experience starring in commercials with inspiring his initial interest in getting behind the scenes of product development. He told Forbes, "I had done a [traditional endorsement] deal for Nikon at the time. I'm like, 'Whoa, hold on, wait a second. I've got to figure out how to get in the equity game, because it just makes so much more sense.'" He then decided to channel his fame and fortune into funding startup ventures in Silicon Valley.

The two funds he started with Guy Oseary, titled A-Grade Investments and Sound Venture, have been highly successful with investments in companies like Uber, Airbnb, Spotify, Pinterest, Acorns and Warby Parker, to name a few. He was even named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People as a result of his entrepreneurial activities. He is estimated to have turned a $50 million investment into over $250 million (and counting). Suffice it to say, most actors could only dream of having a fallback career like the one Kutcher has carved out for himself.

Saving the world, one child at a time

In addition to tearing it up in the business world, Ashton Kutcher has also dedicated a great deal of his professional efforts to ending child trafficking and sexual exploitation at home and around the world. He and his then-wife Demi Moore co-founded an organization called DNA (short for Demi N Ashton) in 2009 after the two watched a Dateline documentary on the subject of human slavery. After their marriage dissolved, the charity was rebranded as Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, but they both remained on board. The organization couples Kutcher's love of technology with his philanthropic interest by using internet and technology resources to help combat human trafficking. 

Kutcher in particular has become a reputable expert on the subject of using Thorn's technology to tackle the crisis on a grander scale and even testified before Congress in 2017 about Thorn's efforts to address the crisis, which he referred to as his current "day job." As of 2018, he and Thorn have helped to save an estimated 6,000 children from sexual abuse.

He's made some errors in judgment

Despite his good deeds and digital savvy, Ashton Kutcher has also seen his reputation take a few hits that might've cost him a job or two. For example, in 2011, he reacted to the news of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno's firing by writing, "How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste." He later claimed to have been unaware of the circumstances surrounding Paterno's ouster — namely, the accusation that he had overlooked multiple accounts of sexual abuse against children by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky — and later apologized for the terrible hot take. Even so, he drew a lot of ire for his mis-tweet.

Then in 2017, he was again forced to eat his words after he posted a tone-deaf list of questions he planned to pose about what constitutes improper workplace behavior. He later admitted he was taking the "wrong" approach and thanked followers for their profuse condemnation. The damage was done, however, and many wondered whether Kutcher was as forward-thinking as his work suggested. On top of those gaffes, Kutcher was also accused of having a "bad attitude" during an interview with Sharon Osbourne after she got his name wrong. According to Osbourne, he even demeaned her accomplishments by asking, "What have you done in this industry?"

He's become famous for being famous, too

Another hindrance to Kutcher's film career is, ironically, his off-screen success, as he tends to make more headlines for his personal life than his onscreen accomplishments.

For example, Kutcher and his first wife, Demi Moore, were regulars on the red carpet and used their social network platforms to document virtually every detail of their marriage. He basically helped put Twitter on the map by engaging in (and eventually winning) a popularity contest on the network with national news station CNN in 2009, and his digital influence has remained intact. He and his current wife, Mila Kunis, continue to attract paparazzi; even as audiences avoid Kutcher's films, a lot of people still have the time to wonder what their children are up to.

He's been tied to controversial figures

For someone like Ashton Kutcher, who makes a living more as a celebrity personality and entrepreneur than an actor these days, remaining in the public eye is key to maintaining his status. Unfortunately, some of the comments that Kutcher and his wife Mila Kunis have made over the years have caused more bad attention than good. And while some may say that there's no such thing as bad press, that doesn't necessarily hold true for Kutcher, whose online comments and celebrity associations haven't always gone down well with the entire public.

Case in point: Kutcher's ties with the controversial Rabbi Yehuda Berg. The religious figure Berg is a former co-director of the Kabbalah Centre, an organization that called the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Madonna, and Kutcher's ex-wife Demi Moore among its many ardent followers. Many have sworn by the teachings of Kabbalah — a more mystical interpretation of Judaism — but Berg attracted all the wrong kinds of attention when he was accused of sexual misconduct in 2014.

Berg was the recipient of a massive civil suit accusing him of inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact. Ultimately, Berg was ordered to pay a five-figure sum to his alleged victim, while the center itself also had to shell out a significant amount. Though Kutcher played no direct part in the whole affair, the fact that Berg was an officiator at his wedding to Demi Moore — and that Kutcher attended the funeral of Berg's father — made many question their close connection.

His real estate investments have sparked protests

It's bad enough when stars like Ashton Kutcher get bad press, but if they become the target of a more serious controversy, their next project could very well become the focal point of the controversy itself; Interviews and media attention could turn dicey if reporters want to know more about a star's scandal than their new movie. Studios may be hesitant about casting Kutcher for this very reason.

Back in 2016, Kutcher and his wife Mila Kunis became investors in Airbnb which led to trouble for the recently wed actors. The peer-to-peer vacation rental service has been accused of taking away much-needed housing from local residents by forcing home and rental prices to skyrocket in some areas. Airbnb also finds itself adjacent to other housing-related disputes worldwide. For instance, when Kutcher was promoting the company at a 2016 event in Los Angeles, he was interrupted by a protester who took issue with Airbnb profiting off settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The incident made headlines, which may have caused studios to question whether they want Kutcher in their next blockbuster. 

He's walked away from numerous gigs

When it comes to casting a leading man for a major new movie, studios want a star who's going to play ball in all aspects of production. Someone who will be a good collaborator, promoter, and beyond. And unfortunately for Ashton Kutcher, he doesn't have the best track record when it comes to doing whatever is needed to make a project a success. 

Most infamously, Kutcher dropped out of "That '70s Show" after its seventh season, citing scheduling conflicts with his burgeoning movie career. Though he made a handful of guest appearances in the show's final season, he didn't renew his contract as a series regular. Combined with the loss of Topher Grace — who also left to do movies — the show couldn't survive and ended after its eighth season. Likewise, the wildly successful celebrity prank show "Punk'd" — which Kutcher began hosting in 2003 — went through a cancellation scare in 2004 when the actor decided he'd had enough of the show and officially quit after just two seasons before deciding to return at the 11th hour.

Though he'd eventually work out a deal to return, the show ultimately came to an end after five years — despite good ratings — when he walked away again. Though some theorized that the first exit in 2004 was a ruse to convince unsuspecting celebrity prank targets that the show was over, his history of walking away from successful gigs may have made producers wary of his commitment to his projects.

He's gained a reputation as a bad actor

Since his breakout role as Michael Kelso on "That '70s Show," Ashton Kutcher has had a pretty familiar career trajectory. First, he took a string of similar roles, but when he found himself typecast as an oafish slacker, he broadened his filmography with a few dramas, perhaps in an effort to be taken more seriously. But outside of his iconic TV role, Kutcher hasn't received the best reviews for his performances, and as a result has earned a reputation as a bad actor, or at the very least, a limited one.

None of this, of course, is to say that he actually is a bad actor. As Michael Kelso, he earned much praise and a diehard fanbase, and he's demonstrated that he can be charming and likable in the right role. The problem, however, might be his bad luck with movies — it's not his fault 2022's "Vengeance" wasn't a bigger hit, after all.

At the end of the day, most studios make their casting decisions based on what they see on-screen and from what critics and audiences feel about an actor. And unfortunately, for whatever the reason might be, Kutcher doesn't have the best track record on film. 

His biggest movie role nearly ended his career

In the early 2010s, Ashton Kutcher was cast to play the late Steve Jobs in a sweeping biopic of the revolutionary tech innovator. It was a major move for the actor, who'd previously been known mostly for comedies. It was a role that challenged him — even terrified him — but it didn't turn out as well as he might have hoped. In addition to being overshadowed by the rival Steven Soderbergh biopic starring Michael Fassbender, "Jobs" was slaughtered by critics.

While Kutcher may have done a better job than Fassbender of looking like Steve Jobs — even to the point of being an eerie doppelganger of the Apple founder early in his career — reviews all pointed to Kutcher's poor performance and lackluster portrayal of the polarizing computer genius. Mercilessly mocked, Kutcher's career was nearly ended by the film, and that's not hyperbole: After the film's unspectacular theatrical run, Kutcher didn't star in another movie for a decade. 

Though Hollywood didn't exactly blacklist him, it would seem that "Jobs" sullied Kutcher's reputation. Interest in the actor as a bona fide leading man slipped, and the vision of Kutcher as Steve Jobs may still be what resonates with some in the industry. And when seeking an actor for a high-profile production, few studio executives are willing to roll the dice on someone who hasn't delivered a hit movie in more than 15 years.

Medical issues put his career on hold

Bad press, poor reviews, and disappointing box office runs aren't the only reasons that Ashton Kutcher stopped acting in the 2010s. Though most people weren't privy to it at the time, medical issues also played a big part in the actor stepping away from Hollywood, a fact he would talk about more openly after his health had taken a turn for the better. 

In 2022, Kutcher revealed that a few years earlier he'd been diagnosed with a devastating autoimmune disorder. The disease, a rare form of vasculitis, causes a swelling of the blood vessels that decreases blood flow and can often cause near-fatal organ failure. For Kutcher, the effects were extremely serious, with the actor all but losing both his vision and hearing for a time, as well as his ability to walk by sapping him of his equilibrium. Kutcher genuinely feared that he might lose those abilities forever, and had to come to terms with the fact that his career — such as it was — might be over forever.

Thankfully, Kutcher was able to make a full recovery. Not only did his sight, hearing, and equilibrium all return to normal, but he was even able to get into good enough shape to enter a marathon in 2022. But even with his remarkable medical turnaround, his diagnosis meant he spent over a year unable to audition or field any casting calls that came his way.

He and Mila Kunis are focusing on their family

From his many non-acting endeavors to his medical problems, Ashton Kutcher had a lot on his plate over the last decade. No duty was more important to Kutcher, though, than his biggest role to date: being a husband and father. His marriage to his "That '70s Show" co-star Mila Kunis was one of the most high-profile Hollywood marriages of the previous decade, as the two were officially wed in 2015 after dating for nearly three years.

A year before the couple had their nuptials, though, they welcomed their first child, and a year after came their second. "For me, the number one role I will ever play is to be a father," Kutcher told People in 2023. While many celebrity parents juggle their jobs in front of the camera with raising their kids, Kutcher and Kunis put acting aside to raise their two children. And it wouldn't be until his daughter Isabelle was school age that Kutcher decided to get back to work as an actor.

Even when he did, though, Kutcher didn't want to put being a good dad on the back burner. While filming "Your Place or Mine," Kutcher even sacrificed some of his salary in order to move production to Los Angeles so he could still spend time with the little ones while working. With that kind of family focus, Kutcher may simply be selective about where and when he wants to work.

His long-awaited return to movies was a total disaster

By the time the decade turned over to 2020, Ashton Kutcher hadn't been top-billed in a film in quite a few years, with his last starring performance coming in the cringe-worthy "Jobs." And while he spent time away from the acting game dealing with health issues and raising a family, he took a supporting role in B.J. Novak's 2022 film "Vengeance." It received good reviews, and within a year Kutcher decided the time was right for a real comeback, leading the romantic comedy "Your Place or Mine," a Netflix original from screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (co-creator of the CW hit "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend") in her feature-length directorial debut.

Starring opposite rom-com queen Reese Witherspoon, the movie is the classic story of two platonic best friends who realize they're in love with each other. Trite, to be sure, but even the most formulaic movies can still be good. This one, however, didn't pass muster, with both critical and audience scores falling into the sub-basement level, and much of the criticism falling squarely on Kutcher's shoulders, with many feeling that the two stars had absolutely zero on-screen chemistry. If having his last major role being "Jobs" wasn't bad enough, that his comeback was a massive failure probably isn't convincing anyone that Kutcher is ready to star in a fresh, new hit film. 

He got into hot water over his defense of Danny Masterson

It's always a dilemma when someone you know is accused of a serious crime, and that goes double for a superstar like Ashton Kutcher. It can be natural to want to defend a friend, but how far is too far when the allegations are serious — as they were with Kutcher's "That '70s Show" co-star Danny Masterson? Masterson was put on trial in 2023 for three counts of rape that took place in the early 2000s. 

While many in the industry who knew Masterson personally remained mum, Ashton Kutcher and wife Mila Kunis — both his former co-stars — decided to speak out. But rather than make a statement about how the allegations were a shock based on the man they knew, Kutcher and Kunis went further, writing letters to the judge to defend Masterson and protect him from more serious punishment. In those letters, the two actors called Masterson a "role model ... an outstanding older brother figure," and a "reliable source of guidance." The outrage among the general public was swift and fierce, especially as news of those letters came out only after Masterson had been convicted and was facing sentencing.

In response to the outcry, the duo tried to backtrack, issuing an apology and ultimately choosing to disable comments on their social media. Given the nature of the convict he defended, Kutcher was eventually forced to step down from his role as chairman of the nonprofit that he co-founded to fight child sex trafficking. Masterson, meanwhile, received a sentence of 30 years to life.

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).

He has a history of awkward press coverage

We've seen firsthand during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike how a lack of promotion by a film's stars can kill a movie's box office potential. But even when things are going well, a bad press tour can be just as damaging as no press tour. And Ashton Kutcher has a strange track record of awkward promotional appearances and interviews even when journalists aren't pressing him about his off-set controversies.

In 2021, Kutcher and wife Mila Kunis sat down with Dax Shepard's "Armchair Expert" podcast, where they curiously revealed that they don't believe in regularly washing their children — or themselves. "If you can see the dirt on them, clean them," Kutcher said. "Otherwise, there's no point."  As for his own body, Kutcher claimed he only ever washes his armpits crotch, "and nothing else ever." Co-host Monica Padman seemed perplexed, and so did almost everyone who saw the headlines as their comments made the mainstream news.

Equally as bad was Kutcher's promotion of his 2023 comeback movie, "Your Place or Mine." While appearing on the red carpet with co-star Reese Witherspoon, Kutcher took part in a series of extremely uncomfortable and awkward photos, and in the aftermath the press seemed more interested in the cringe-worthy pictures than the movie itself. Kutcher attempted to blame the situation on his autoimmune disorder, and also claimed he didn't want to appear like he was having an affair with his co-star. But even the actor's wife told him, "You gotta act like you like each other" (per Entertainment Weekly).

He doesn't do sequels

Looking back over Ashton Kutcher's career, one thing stands out: The fact that he's never done a sequel or even a follow-up, not to his biggest TV roles or his most popular films. In 2023, he made a small cameo in "That '90s Show," marking the first time he'd ever reprised a previous role, but Kutcher's co-star and wife Mila Kunis revealed that she had to force him to do it. And it's not just a matter of coincidence that Kutcher hasn't done sequels.

In the early 2000s, after "The Butterfly Effect" became an unexpected hit, a sequel was greenlit quickly, but Kutcher was nowhere to be found. Without him, "The Butterfly Effect 2" became a direct-to-DVD affair, as did "The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations." The same thing happened with Kutcher's 2006 animated smash, "Open Season," which had two sequels that went direct-to-DVD in the U.S. But the biggest mark on his non-sequel resume is his apparent refusal to return for a follow-up to his 2000 slacker classic "Dude, Where's My Car?"

Over the years, producers have been trying to get a sequel up and running, but Kutcher has put the kibosh on the idea time and time again, with his most positive response coming in 2016 when he said that he'd consider it. Co-star Seann William Scott, meanwhile, has been trying to garner support for a second film, but so far, Kutcher's hold-out has left the film in limbo for more than two decades. And with an apparent reluctance to do sequels, studios may be leery to sign him up for films that could spark a franchise.