Ashton Kutcher

Profile of the Punk'd prankster and former model, who rose to fame on That 70s Show, before cementing his star status with a host of Hollywood hits and a marriage to Demi Moore.

Ashton Kutcher was born to parents Larry and Diane Kutcher, who both had jobs as factory workers at varying times. As a child growing up in Iowa, young Ashton lived on a farm with his parents, where he enjoyed the country lifestyle of an average Midwestern youngster. Ashton also had an older sister Tausha, as well as a fraternal twin brother, who was called Michael. Sadly, his brother Michael suffered from cerebral palsy.

When Ashton reached the age of 13, his family life went through a very difficult patch. His parents' marriage broke up and they divorced soon afterwards. Things got even more stressful for Ashton, since around the same time his twin brother Michael underwent an emergency heart transplant; this was apparently prompted by a condition called cardiomyopathy, a virus-related illness that had perforated Michael’s heart muscle. Although Michael's operation went smoothly, the seriousness of his condition had a profound effect on Ashton, who subsequently decided to enrol for a degree course in biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa, with the avowed aim of one day discover a cure for his brother's illness.

In order to finance his studies, Ashton worked on a variety of odd jobs, including carpentry and farm labouring. At one stage, he even took a job as a cereal dust sweeper at the General Mills Plant in Cedar Rapids. In addition, Ashton reacted badly to this difficult time at home and has since said that he became quite depressed.

He attended Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he excelled at sports, before his mother decided to move away from Cedar Rapids to Tiffin, Iowa, with her new partner. During Ashton's senior year at Clear Creek-Amana High School, he reportedly broke into the high school at night with his cousin, to try and steal some money. He was caught leaving the scene and convicted of third-degree burglary. As a result, Ashton was sentenced to three years' probation and 180 hours of community service. He is on record as saying that this difficult experience 'straightened him out', but his girlfriend at the time broke up with him as a result of his conviction.

Although he decided to enrol at the University of Iowa in order to find a cure for his brother’s illness, Ashton didn't complete his studies. He was desperately poor at this stage of his life and often donated blood, in order to make money. Ashton was reportedly thrown out of his apartment for being too 'noisy and wild' and says of this period in his life: 'I thought I knew everything, but I didn't have a clue. I was smoking a lot of weed and partying and I woke up many mornings not knowing what I had done the night before. I played way too hard. I'm amazed I'm not dead.'

Ashton had already become interested in theatre whilst still at school, when he made his debut in a 7th grade production of 'The Crying Princess and the Golden Goose'. However his entry into the entertainment business proper actually came about in a rather roundabout way. One night, he was hanging out at a bar called The Airliner in Iowa City when he was approached by a talent scout who had been impressed by his good looks and invited him to enter a competition called the 'Fresh Faces of Iowa'. Ashton came first in the competition - his prize was a trip to New York in order to participate in an International Modelling and Talent Association (IMTA) Convention. Ashton lost out to Josh Duhamel but then succeeded in getting signed up to the Next modelling agency in New York, where he launched his modelling career. He appeared in ads for Calvin Klein and Versace, and was even engaged for modelling jobs in Paris and Milan. Having pursued a successful career as a male model, turning his hand to acting seemed like the logical next step. So in 1997, Ashton decided to move to Los Angeles and try his luck on the audition circuit.

Happily, it didn't take long for Ashton to receive his first big break - in fact, it happened almost straight away. He went for an audition for a role at NBC and was told that he hadn't been successful. But just as he was leaving, Ashton was called back into the studio by an executive who asked him to read for a new pilot show called 'Wind On Water'. Ashton says: 'I went and did a cold reading of the character and found out that I had gotten the job but I told them I had to read the script first. After reading it, I decided I didn't want to be a cowboy surfer! My agent had told me about a series called 'Teenage Wasteland' (later renamed 'That '70s Show') and I went in to read for that. I told them I had to know if I'd gotten the role by 3:45 pm, because I was supposed to tell NBC if I wanted the role in 'Wind On Water' by 4:00pm!' Ashton was cast as Michael Kelso in the television series, 'That '70s Show', which made its TV debut in 1998. The show was highly successful and ran until 2006. In retrospect, he'd made a very wise choice, since 'Wind On Water' turned out to be a flop and was cancelled after only two episodes.

Following his runaway success on the small screen, it was only a matter of time before the Hollywood producers began calling for Ashton. He broke through into movie acting in a succession of comedy roles to begin with, such as 'Dude, Where’s My Car?' (2000), and the romantic comedy 'Down To You' (2000). Ashton followed up this early movie success with the family film 'Cheaper By The Dozen', where he played a narcissistic young actor. In 2004, Ashton began to branch out into more serious roles, such as 'The Butterfly Effect', where he played a young man who struggles with various inner conflicts, and then falls in love with a girl called Kayleigh: the film received mixed reviews from the critics, but was nevertheless a substantial box office success. Ashton himself has said that he felt the film was a 'fantastic metaphor for how blind people often are to the things that actually happen to them on a day to day basis'.

'Guess Who' (2005) saw him delve into the issue of racial relationships in a comedy that was a loose remake of the 1967 film 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner', which starred Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn. During the same year 'A Lot Like Love' and stop motion animated television series 'Robot Chicken' were released before Ashton appeared in director Emilio Estevez' drama 'Bobby' in 2006.

He briefly departed from his comedic roles in the same year when he teamed up with Kevin Costner for action-adventure drama 'The Guardian', but was soon back onside with computer-animated comedy 'Open Season' in which he played a voice role. Although many of the characters he played before were never lead roles, this was soon to change.

'What Happens in Vegas' (2008) saw him become a leading man when he appeared alongside Cameron Diaz in the romantic comedy, which paved the way for 'Spread' and 'Personal Effects' in (2009). 2010 saw him join an ensemble cast including Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Alba, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner in 'Valentine's Day', which was a commercial success. With his box office appeal increasing, Ashton also appeared alongside Katherine Heigl in 'Killers' (2010).

Off screen too, Ashton was attracting plenty of media attention, thanks to the ups and downs of his personal life. Having dated several actresses - January Jones, Ashley Scott, Monet Mazur and Brittany Murphy - in swift succession, he then began dating actress Demi Moore early in 2003, shortly after his break-up with Brittany Murphy. Ashton's new relationship provoked great interest in the media, on account of the age difference between him and Ms Moore - fifteen years his senior. Moore also had three children by her marriage to Bruce Willis. Notwithstanding these factors, Ashton and Demi were married on 24 September 2005, in a private ceremony officiated over by a rabbi of the Kabbalah Centre. Demi and Ashton are both staunch devotees of Kabbalah, which is a mystical Jewish sect. As part of their spiritual discipline, they both toured Israel together and are keen observers of Jewish High Holy Days.

As well as being a leading Hollywood actor, Ashton has also proved to be a talented businessman and producer. In 2003, he produced and starred in his own MTV series, called 'Punk'd'. The programme involved various hidden cameras being used to play tricks on unsuspecting celebrities and proved to be very popular. Ashton also took the role of executive producer on the series 'Beauty And The Geek', which was launched in 2005. He has since served as executive producer in a number of productions including 'Adventures in Hollyhood', 'The Real Wedding Crashers', 'The Beautiful Life' and his 2010 film 'Killers'.

Ashton now runs a production company called Katalyst Films, in conjunction with his partner Jason Goldberg, through which he has obtained many of his production credits, including Punk'd.

In 2010, Kutcher's two major releases of the year, 'Valentine's Day' and 'Killers', garnered the actor Razzie Worst Actor award nominations – with the star winning the award for the latter.

In 2011, he starred opposite Natalie Portman in the romantic comedy 'No Strings Attached'.

Outside of his film work, Ashton Kutcher has gained notable press on the social media website Twitter, becoming the first person to gain one million followers in April 2009.

In April 2011, Kutcher was criticised by US magazine the Village Voice, for reportedly misquoting figures related to child prostitution in the US, during a publicity campaign alongside wife Demi Moore.

Kutcher took to Twitter to express his anger at the Village Voice, calling on the magazine's sponsors to withdrawing advertising from the publication.

A month later though, Kutcher was back in headlines for the right reasons, after agreeing a one year deal worth $20 million dollars to star in the sitcom 'Two and Half Men', replacing the previously axed Charlie Sheen.

Ashton Kutcher's debut on the show in September 2011 was watched by 28.7 million Americans, a new record for the sitcom.