Tragic Details About Ashton Kutcher

The following article includes mentions of a murder.

Ashton Kutcher is known for his comedic roles in movies and his playful, goofy persona in real life. The actor rose to fame following his gig as Michael Kelso in "That '70s Show" and as the mastermind behind pranking the most beloved celebrities on MTV's "Punk'd." While he has largely maintained a career based around joy and laughter, behind the scenes, he has dedicated his time to some serious causes.

In 2012, Kutcher and then-wife Demi Moore launched Thorn, a non-profit organization that aims to protect children from sexual exploitation through the use of technology, per its official website. Thorn is a cause close to Kutcher, and in 2017, he testified in front of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee to bring light to his efforts, dubbing it "one of the greatest honors of [his] life" (via CNN). Alongside Thorn, Kutcher is also dedicated to helping the war-stricken Ukraine. The actor's now-wife, Mila Kunis, was born and raised in Ukraine before moving to the United States when she was eight years old. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Kutcher and Kunis set up a GoFundMe to help provide immediate support to the country. As of this writing, they have raised over $22 million.

While Kutcher uses his celeb platform to make the world a better place by helping to stop some of the biggest problems and tragedies, in his personal life, he has experienced his own share of hardships. Here are tragic details about Ashton Kutcher's life.

Ashton Kutcher's parents divorced when he was a teenager

A divorce can be difficult for children of any age, let alone a teenager. When Ashton Kutcher was 13 years old, his parents — Larry and Diane Kutcher — ended their marriage. Following the divorce, Ashton and his siblings, twin brother Michael and older sister Tausha Kutcher, lived with their mother and eventually relocated to Homestead, Iowa, per Biography.

Though Ashton has not publicly gone into much detail about his parents' divorce, he did touch briefly on it in a 2017 acceptance speech for the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award at his home state's Drake University. Discussing his own journey as a parent, he tearfully said in part (via the Des Moines Register), "When [my wife and I] had these kids ... my first response was, I wanted to call my parents and say, 'I'm sorry, because I never knew how much you loved me.'"

He additionally mentioned his own divorce from Demi Moore and how the event broadened his understanding of his mom and dad's experience. "I had the great fortune of getting a divorce, because I felt the impact of it, and I felt how much loss is in there and how much love is in there, and that it's not neat or clean or messy," he said. "And I understood, finally, my parents' divorce in a whole different way."

His twin brother once faced a grim diagnosis

While also dealing with the fallout of his parents' divorce, Ashton Kutcher also dealt with constant stress amid his twin brother Michael Kutcher's ongoing health struggle. According to Michael's website, he had a troublesome birth and was "notably smaller" than his twin, Christopher (better known to the world as Ashton). As reported by Today, Michael was born with underdeveloped lungs, couldn't breathe on his own, and weighed in at only four pounds at the time, compared to Ashton, who was born as a healthy 11-pound baby. In his toddler years, Michael explained, he experienced "developmental delays" that affected his motor skills, speech, and vision, which made mom Diane Kutcher take him to see a doctor. He would receive his Cerebral Palsy diagnosis at three years old.

When the Kutcher twins turned 13, however, things became increasingly more stressful as Michael experienced heart failure. Along with the grim diagnosis, he was only expected to live three or four weeks. Thankfully, a heart transplant allowed Michael to survive, and he has since used his experience to advocate for disability (or #Diffability) awareness with organizations like The Cerebral Palsy Foundation

But while growing up, Ashton was very protective of his brother, often standing up against Michael's bullies or refraining from hangouts if he wasn't also invited. As Michael told Today, his twin didn't want to see him struggle in any way, adding, "Chris would tell me, 'I wish I could take all of this off of you — and take it myself.'"

Ashton Kutcher did some reckless things as a young adult

As a teenager, Ashton Kutcher dealt with heavy stress, along with the normal struggles of being in high school. He would partake in normal teen fun, but by his senior year, his "antics" — as The Seattle Times later put it — went too far. One night, when an 18-year-old Kutcher snuck into the school along with one of his cousins with the intention to pull a prank, the duo accidentally tripped a silent alarm — which, to the future star's surprise, prompted police immediately. Though the act seemed "harmless," it was not treated as such, and Kutcher was "convicted of third-degree burglary and sentenced to 180 hours of community service and three years' probation."

Before the event, Kutcher explained to the outlet, he was "a really good student and a good kid, and didn't get in trouble," but this incident changed everything. "You'd walk down the street and feel people looking at you like, 'Oh, that's the kid that broke into the high school,'" he said. But dirty looks weren't the extent of his consequences: "My 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." 

This one-time crime cost the actor, but he ultimately graduated and studied biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa before moving to New York City to pursue modeling ... and the rest is history. "Getting in trouble, learning a life lesson," Kutcher said of the ordeal, "it straightened me out pretty quick."

His date was brutally murdered

As Ashton Kutcher's career was kicking into high gear in the early 2000s, the "That '70s Show" star met fashion student Ashley Ellerin through "mutual friends," per CBS News. According to E! News, the two planned on going to a Grammys after-party on February 21, 2001, which Kutcher confirmed with Ellerin in a phone call at 8:24 p.m. He ultimately arrived at her home later than he originally promised at 10:45 p.m., but when he knocked on her door, he got no response. 

While testifying in court in 2019, the actor explained that when peeking through her window (via People), "I saw what I thought was red wine spilled on the carpet." However, Kutcher chalked it up to remnants of a housewarming party that Ellerin had one week prior, "didn't think much about it," and eventually left. The following morning, Ellerin's roommate, Jennifer Disisto, discovered her body. She had been "stabbed 47 times," per the outlet. Upon learning this, Kutcher contacted authorities, later explaining on the stand, "My fingerprints are on this door and I was freaking out. I told [an officer], 'Let me tell you what happened.'"

It turned out that Ellerin's murderer was Michael Gargiulo, aka the "Hollywood Ripper," who had introduced himself as a repairman weeks earlier. After a lengthy trial in 2019, he was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Ellerin and Maria Bruno, as well as one count of attempted murder for the stabbing of Michelle Murphy, as reported by The Straits Times. He was sentenced to death in 2021.

Ex-girlfriend Brittany Murphy died tragically

As Ashton Kutcher's career started to take off in the 2000s, he was romantically linked with several women, including Monet Mazur and January Jones, per Us Weekly. In 2003, he starred in the romantic comedy "Just Married" alongside actor Brittany Murphy, and their on-screen chemistry was undeniable. The two started dating shortly after they finished filming the movie in the fall of 2002, with Kutcher telling People around this time, "When we were doing the movie, we were just friends. ... We just kind of started hanging out more. And now we've been hanging out a lot more."

The film's director, Shawn Levy, also remembered their strong connection while filming and told People, "From the minute they met they were bouncing off each other, riffing, kidding around and laughing." Murphy herself said in a 2002 interview with MTV News that Kutcher was "one of the kindest humans I've ever met," adding, "He's an extraordinary person." As much as the two clicked, their relationship did not last long, and they broke up the following spring.

Six years after their short-lived romance, Murphy tragically died at the age of 32 of "pneumonia combined with anemia and 'multiple [prescription] drug intoxication'" in December 2009, per People. Regarding her death, Kutcher told ABC News' "Nightline" in part, "She was like the person who walked in the room and she was always the first person to dance. ... I just try to connect to that and celebrate who she was and how she was, and not make sense of it."

Ashton Kutcher's marriage to Demi Moore was unstable

Ashton Kutcher met "Ghost" star Demi Moore in 2003, and the two started dating shortly after, according to the Mirror. Two years later, in September 2005, Kutcher and Moore tied the knot at their Beverly Hills house. On the surface, they appeared to be a happy, loving couple, but behind the scenes, their marriage was reportedly different.

From the start, the 15-year age gap between Kutcher and Moore generated a lot of buzz from the media, and the difference reportedly had an impact on their relationship, among other things. A source told People in 2010, "He's changed so much. ... His personality, the way he dresses — he used to be such a goofball." Additionally, the couple apparently had frequent fights, especially over Kutcher's alleged infidelities, which another insider claimed got "pretty intense" at points (via People).

Throughout their six-year marriage, Kutcher was often accused of cheating by multiple media outlets, but he denied this — until 2011. That October, then-22-year-old Sara Leal claimed to Us Weekly that she had slept with Kutcher on his sixth wedding anniversary with Moore. According to Leal, Kutcher reportedly told her he was "separated" from Moore, which led the two to hook up. Moore wrote in her 2019 memoir "Inside Out" that when she questioned Kutcher about it, "He admitted it right away." This allegedly would not be Kutcher's only extramarital affair, with Moore claiming in her book that he'd said their frequent threesomes "blurred the lines and, to some extent, justified what he's done," per People.

... Which ultimately led to divorce

The alleged cheating, the supposed fighting, and the tabloid-fodder age difference seemingly proved too heavy a burden on Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore's marriage. In November 2011, just one month after the story broke about his alleged one-night stand with Sara Leal, the two officially separated. In a statement obtained by People, Moore said, "It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have decided to end my six-year marriage to Ashton. As a woman, a mother and a wife there are certain values and vows that I hold sacred, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen to move forward with my life." In the same regard, Kutcher also made a statement on Chime, saying (via People), "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."

Kutcher and Moore's divorce would not be finalized until two years after their split. The lengthy divorce process was in part due to the couple seeking an agreement on splitting finances and assets, as well as Moore pushing for spousal support, according to E! News. Ultimately, both agreed on a settlement and Moore did not receive spousal support, per TMZ

Though their divorce ended on rocky terms in 2013, Kutcher himself said that "it's all good" between them while on the "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast in 2020 (via People). He continued to say, "There's no badness."

A movie role made Ashton Kutcher sick

Aside from the difficult parts of his personal life, Ashton Kutcher also once dealt with a particularly painful and alarming health issue while working on a movie. In 2012, the actor was cast as Apple cofounder and tech giant Steve Jobs, per the Los Angeles Times. To better prepare for the role and align himself closer with his real-life character, Kutcher adopted a fruitarian diet, which according to NBC News, is a "subset of veganism that means eating only fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and grains — absolutely no animal products."

In a 2019 appearance on "Hot Ones," Kutcher talked about this experience. Explaining that he started following Jobs' lead by consuming a specific type of carrot juice, he said, "I started just drinking carrot juice, non-stop like all day long. Two weeks before we went to start shooting, all of a sudden, I had this pain in my back, and through the night it got worse. ... I ended up in the hospital on like the maximum dose of Dilaudid because my pancreas was crazy out of whack."

The pancreas pain that Kutcher experienced was a bad case of pancreatitis, but despite his scary stay in the hospital, he went on to finish filming "Jobs." Talk about method acting!

A former co-star's death reportedly affected him deeply

Ashton Kutcher is most known for his role as goofy jock Michael Kelso on the comedy sitcom "That '70s Show." The show spanned 10 years, and along the way, Kutcher's co-stars became family. Tanya Roberts played the role of Midge Pinciotti, mom of Laura Prepon's Donna Pinciotti, throughout the series and became a favorite among fans.

On January 4, 2021, media outlets reported on the death of Roberts the previous evening after her longtime publicist, Mike Pingel, broke the news that morning, per CNN. At the time, however, Roberts was actually still alive, but the word spread fast, and many "That '70s Show" cast members shared their condolences on social media. Kutcher responded to his former co-stars' tributes on Twitter, including that of Topher Grace and Debra Jo Rupp, and announced that she had not died yet, as reported by People. Sadly, on the evening of January 5, Roberts died at the age of 65.

The confusing way in which Roberts' death was prematurely reported to the media, as well as its ensuing coverage, reportedly affected Kutcher deeply. As a source claimed to OK! magazine at the time, "Overall, Ashton's a positive guy who counts himself very blessed for all the fortune and success he's achieved, but he's also a sensitive individual who takes it badly when tragedy occurs — and this awful news about Tanya has hit him especially hard."

A rare disease made him temporarily blind and deaf

Ashton Kutcher is no stranger to dealing with health issues. Years after his role in "Jobs" landed him in the hospital with a bad case of pancreatitis, the actor once again experienced a health scare in 2020. During an appearance on National Geographic's "Running Wild With Bear Grylls: The Challenge," Kutcher told the British daredevil adventurer that he was diagnosed with a "super rare form of vasculitis" in 2020, which "knocked out" his vision, hearing, and equilibrium (via Access Hollywood).

Vasculitis, according to the Mayo Clinic, is an inflammation of the blood vessels that can restrict blood flow. Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but common symptoms can mimic that of a common cold and include fever, headache, fatigue, and aches.

It took about a year for Kutcher to fully recover from the scary ordeal, and regaining the senses that he lost gave him a new perspective on life. "You don't really appreciate it until it's gone ... until you go, 'I don't know if I'm ever gonna be able to see again. I don't know if I'm gonna be able to hear again, I don't know if I'm going to be able to walk again,'" Kutcher revealed to Grylls.

He suffered a devastating loss during his marriage to Moore

As mentioned, Ashton Kutcher's whirlwind marriage to Demi Moore was rocky, to say the least. Throughout their six-year marriage, the couple was constantly in the spotlight and bombarded with media speculation regarding the stability of their union. Before the tabloid frenzies, however, Kutcher and Moore silently experienced a devastating loss. In 2003, shortly after the pair started dating, the 42-year-old Moore became pregnant, as reported by The Daily Mail. The couple kept the news a secret, and unfortunately, at the six-month mark, Moore suffered a miscarriage.

Despite several attempts by the couple to conceive again through IVF, none were successful. The harrowing loss left an impact on Kutcher, and the "Your Place or Mine" actor told Esquire in a January 2023 interview, "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 ... The idea of having another kid would have been incredible." He continued, "For whatever reason, I had to have that experience."