The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Ashton Kutcher

Ashton Kutcher is known for his fun-loving personality and silly sense of humor, both on-screen and off. He played Michael Kelso, the quintessential himbo, on "That '70s Show" for eight seasons, and played pranks on his fellow celebs for his own MTV series "Punk'd." Kutcher married his former co-star Mila Kunis in 2015, and the couple shares two children. It may seem as though the actor has it easy with his all-American good looks and ever-present smile, but the truth is much darker.

From his early life growing up in Iowa to his Hollywood heartthrob days to his life as a family man, Ashton Kutcher has weathered his fair share of tragedy. Between the loss of loved ones, frightening health issues, and public and private missteps, Kutcher's life has been fraught with obstacles. Read on to find out the tragic events of Ashton Kutcher's life and how he has managed to overcome them.

Ashton Kutcher's twin brother was born with health problems

Ashton Kutcher and his fraternal twin brother, Michael, were born on February 7, 1978, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. While Ashton weighed a healthy 11 pounds at birth, his twin weighed only 4 pounds and had underdeveloped lungs. In fact, Michael wasn't even breathing when he was born, according to "Today." Michael survived this but faced more health issues as a young child.

At age 3, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, "I had all of the stereotypes that come with having a disability. I was called every name in the book on the playground," he shared with "Today." But Ashton always stood up for him, fighting off bullies and making sure to always include him. "He's my brother. If I'm playing, he's playing," Ashton shared on an episode of "The Checkup With Dr. David Agus" (via Entertainment Tonight).

When the twins were in eighth grade, Michael suffered another scary health setback. He was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and given just weeks to live unless he could receive a transplant. This hit Ashton hard, and he was willing to do anything to save his brother's life, even if meant sacrificing his own. "I'm thinking to myself, 'If anyone's a match, I'm a match,'" Ashton told Dr. Agus. "Now you start running that cycle through your head. You're like, 'This balcony looks far enough to take things.'" Thankfully, a donor was found within 24 hours and Michael's heart transplant was successful.

A teenage prank almost cost him his future

Ashton Kutcher is known for his role as Michael Kelso on "That '70s Show." But while Kelso was depicted as a stereotypical dim-witted hot guy, Kutcher had a bright a future ahead of him as a teen. He was a football player, and his grades were good enough that he aspired to study at MIT or Purdue University. But a silly prank proved more costly than he could have imagined, jeopardizing many aspects of his life. "I was 18 and I was a really good student and a good kid and didn't get in trouble, and then I broke into my high school," Kutcher told The Seattle Times.

Kutcher and his cousin broke into the school late at night, and Kutcher was caught upon leaving the scene. He spent the night in jail and received a pretty harsh punishment: 180 hours of community service, three years probation, and a third-degree burglary conviction. According to the actor, the incident not only painted him as the town outcast but had serious repercussions in his life. "[M]y girlfriend broke up with me. Then I lost my college scholarships and got kicked out of the National Honor Society and the choir and the play," Kutcher explained. He wasn't even allowed to attend prom.

But Kutcher revealed that the experience ended up being a wake-up call for him. "Getting in trouble, learning a life lesson — it straightened me out pretty quick," he explained.

His date was the victim of a brutal murder

In 2001, Ashton Kutcher was enjoying fame with starring roles on "That '70s Show" and in the film "Dude, Where's My Car?" But the good times were marred by a terrible tragedy when a woman Kutcher was casually dating was murdered in her home.

Kutcher met 22-year-old fashion student Ashley Ellerin through friends and the pair got along well. According to E! News, they went on a few dates and had plans to attend a Grammy-watching party at a pal's house on the night of February 21, 2001. Kutcher called Ellerin on his way to her place but she didn't answer the phone. When he knocked on her door, there was no response. Kutcher noted that Ellerin's car was in the driveway and thought she might be ignoring him because he was late. He looked through a window and saw what he assumed to be red wine spilled on the carpet. He later found out it was blood. Ellerin had been stabbed 47 times after getting out of the shower.

Ellerin's killer, Michael Gargiulo, known as "The Hollywood Ripper," was found guilty and sentenced to death in a trial that included Kutcher's testimony. According to People, Kutcher contacted police the day after Ellerin's murder, knowing he had been at the scene of the crime. "My fingerprints are on this door and I was freaking out," he said on the witness stand. "I told [an officer], 'Let me tell you what happened.'"

Ashton Kutcher's ex-girlfriend Brittany Murphy died unexpectedly

In 2003, Ashton Kutcher starred alongside Brittany Murphy in the rom-com "Just Married." The pair had obvious chemistry on-screen and apparently off-screen as well: They began dating after filming wrapped. In an interview with People at the time, Kutcher explained, "When we were doing the movie, we were just friends. ... And now we've been hanging out a lot more."

During a press tour for "Just Married," the couple seemed smitten. "He's an extraordinary person," Murphy gushed. "Once you realize he does one thing amazingly, you're then shocked, and you realize that he does another thing equally as amazingly." Kutcher had equally sweet things to say about Murphy, sharing, "She makes me smile every day" (via InStyle). Despite the love between them, Kutcher and Murphy split in the spring of 2003.

Six years later, Murphy died suddenly. As Coroner Asst. Chief Ed Winter told People, "She was really sick with pneumonia, very anemic, and she was taking medication, and all that combined killed her." The actor was just 32 years old.

Kutcher expressed his grief in an interview with "Nightline." "She was like the person who walked in the room and she was always the first person to dance," he shared. "And I just try to connect to that and celebrate who she was and how she was, and not make sense of it, 'cause there is no sense of making sense of it" (via ABC News).

Ashton Kutcher was devastated when Demi Moore suffered a miscarriage

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore made headlines when they began dating in 2003. Moore was 15 years older than Kutcher, but the age gap didn't seem to be an issue for the couple. They seemed blissfully happy and destined for family life together.

But all was not well behind the smiles in the couple's paparazzi pics. Kutcher and Moore suffered a devastating loss together not long after they began dating. Moore revealed in her memoir "Inside Out" that she was pregnant with Kutcher's child, a girl they planned to name Chaplin Ray, but miscarried six months into her pregnancy (via The New York Times).

Sadly, Moore blamed herself. "It was my fault, I felt for sure: If only I hadn't opened the door to drinking, I never would have lost the baby," she wrote. "Even worse, I was still smoking when I found out I was pregnant, and it took me a few weeks to quit completely. I was wracked with guilt and convinced what had happened was my doing."

Kutcher reflected on the painful ordeal in a 2023 interview with Esquire. "Losing a kid that you think you're going to have, and that close to thinking you're going to have a kid, is really, really painful," he shared. "Everyone deals with that in different ways." Kutcher now shares two children with current wife, Mila Kunis, and Moore has three grown children with ex-husband Bruce Willis.

Rumors of cheating plagued his marriage to Demi Moore

Despite the difficulties the couple endured at the beginning of their relationship, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore went on to tie the knot in 2005. It appeared they were happy together, and Kutcher spent time with Moore's daughters, Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah. Kutcher even enjoyed something like a friendship with Moore's ex-husband Bruce Willis, telling Live magazine, "We go scuba-diving, skiing, we hang out with the girls together, we watch movies, we talk about sport[s]" (via SheSaid).

But Kutcher and Moore's marriage was plagued by rumors of infidelity, something Moore spoke at length about in her memoir. According to the actor, she and Kutcher engaged in threesomes, which may have led to Kutcher straying from the relationship. "Because we had brought in a third party into our relationship, Ashton said, that blurred the lines and, to some extent, justified what he's done," Moore wrote (via People).

In 2011, a woman named Sara Leal told Us Weekly that she and Kutcher had sex on he and Moore's six-year anniversary, claiming, "He just came up and kissed me." Leal, who was 22 at the time, also stated that Kutcher had told her he and Moore were separated. According to Moore, she believed Leal's account. "I knew she wasn't lying," she said. "He admitted it right away."

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore's divorce was painful

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore's marriage lasted long by Hollywood standards, but it could not withstand Kutcher's infidelity. Not long after the cheating allegations came out, the couple announced their split. "It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have decided to end my six-year marriage to Ashton," Moore said in a statement obtained by People. Kutcher expressed his pain in a statement as well, saying, "I will forever cherish the time I spent with Demi. Marriage is one of the most difficult things in the world and unfortunately sometimes they fail" (via People).

The divorce was not finalized until several years after the split was announced, however, due to financial disputes. Moore was initially seeking spousal support from Kutcher to the tune of millions, according to E! News. Ultimately, the ex-spouses reached a settlement, with neither receiving financial support from the other.

Kutcher later admitted to Esquire that the divorce took a toll on him, explaining, "Nothing makes you feel like a failure like divorce. Divorce feels like a wholesale f***ing failure. You failed at marriage."

Getting into character to play Steve Jobs did a number on his health

After years of appearing in sitcoms and rom-coms, Ashton Kutcher took on a serious role portraying Steve Jobs in the 2013 film "Jobs." And he took the role seriously indeed, getting into character by mimicking Steve Jobs' eccentric eating habits, including fasting and following a fruitarian diet. But what worked for Jobs ended up landing Kutcher in the hospital.

On a 2019 episode of "Hot Ones," Kutcher explained what went awry. "I started just drinking carrot juice like nonstop, like, all day long," he said. "Two weeks before we went to start shooting, all of a sudden I had this, like, pain in my back. ... I ended up in the hospital on, like, the maximum dose of Dilaudid because my pancreas was, like, crazy out of whack."

Kutcher's wife, Mila Kunis, appeared on her own episode of "Hot Ones" in 2021 and shared her take on her husband's carrot-induced health scare. "Oh, he's downplaying it," she said. "He was so dumb. He also, I think, only ate, like, grapes at one point." She concluded by revealing Kutcher's actual diagnosis, saying, "[He] ended up in the hospital twice with pancreatitis."

A former co-star's death hit Ashton Kutcher hard

Ashton Kutcher had already experienced the loss of several loved ones by the time his "That '70s Show" co-star, former Bond girl Tanya Roberts, passed away in 2021. But Roberts' death hit Kutcher especially hard, especially since the media mishandled reporting the actor's passing.

Roberts played Midge Pinicotti on "That '70s Show," mother of Laura Prepon's character, Donna. She and Kutcher shared scenes throughout the show's eight seasons. When it was initially announced that Roberts had passed away on January 4, 2021, she was actually still alive. Many celebs, including "That '70s Show" stars Topher Grace and Debra Jo Rupp, took to Twitter to express their memories and condolences, but Kutcher jumped in the comments to set the record straight. "[Y]o bro she's not dead," he tweeted in response to Grace's post and "dj she's still alive," he tweeted in reply to Rupp.

While Kutcher was correct, it was confirmed that Roberts died the very next day of a urinary tract infection. "Ashton's upset that people got it wrong the first time," a source shared with OK! magazine. "Now that Tanya's truly gone, it's brought up a lot of painful memories and emotions."

A rare disorder resulted in scary symptoms

Ashton Kutcher is no stranger to health issues, but in 2022, he opened up about an emergency that truly frightened him. During an episode of "Running Wild With Bear Grylls: The Challenge," the actor explained that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of vasculitis that temporarily impaired his vision and hearing. "I had this weird, super rare form of vasculitis, that like knocked out my vision, it knocked out my hearing, it knocked out like all my equilibrium," Kutcher shared (via Entertainment Tonight).

Vasculitis is a condition that causes the inflammation of blood vessels, which can potentially lead to organ and tissue damage. Kutcher revealed that it took him nearly a year to fully recover. The experience also left him questioning if he'd ever have a normal life again. "You don't really appreciate it until it's gone," he said. "Until you go, 'I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to see again, I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to hear again, I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to walk again.'"

But there was a silver lining to Kutcher's health scare because it seemed to give him a fresh perspective on adversity. "You start surfing on top of your problems instead of living underneath them," he told Grylls. In 2022, Kutcher ran the New York City marathon, proving that his health woes will not stop him from accomplishing his goals.

His poor judgment in supporting Danny Masterson damaged his reputation

In September 2023, Ashton Kutcher made a serious error in judgment when he and his wife Mila Kunis wrote letters in support of Danny Masterson ahead of Masterson's rape trial. Masterson, who co-starred alongside Kutcher and Kunis on "That '70s Show" was subsequently found guilty of raping two women and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.

While Kutcher and Masterson had been close friends during their time as co-workers and stayed friendly in the ensuing years, Kutcher's character letter was a woeful misstep, and the public took notice. Kutcher and Kunis posted an apology video on Instagram in which Kutcher states, "We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters that we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson." Many criticized the apology, insinuating it was not an apology at all but an attempt to mitigate the damage to Kutcher and Kunis' public image.

The backlash caused Kutcher to step down from his position at Thorn, an anti-child sex abuse organization that he had founded with Demi Moore. "I cannot allow my error in judgment to distract from our efforts and the children we serve," Kutcher wrote in a statement published on the organization's website. It remains to be seen whether the public will truly forgive Kutcher, but he seems to be taking steps in the right direction.