As Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis faced massive backlash over the weekend for writing glowing pre-sentencing letters on behalf of their good friend, convicted rapist Danny Masterson, it’s possible that people will revisit the things Demi Moore said about Kutcher and her painful experiences with him during their six-year marriage.
For example, the second time Kutcher reportedly cheated on Moore was on the weekend of their sixth anniversary in 2011, Moore revealed in her 2019 best-selling memoir “Inside Out.” Masterson, Kutcher’s good friend and former co-star from “That ’70s Show,” was hosting his bachelor party in San Diego before marrying Bijou Phillips. Kutcher wanted to be at the party. A few days later, news broke that Kutcher picked up a young blonde woman at the party, claiming he was separated, and they spent the night together.
Moore also described other ways that Kutcher was insensitive or self-absorbed during their marriage, which lasted from 2005 until they split in 2011, after he cheated on her. Moore said Kutcher also pressed her into threesomes, encouraged her to break her sobriety and wasn’t very apologetic after he was publicly caught being unfaithful.
Kutcher’s integrity and past behavior have come under question since the character letters he and Kunis wrote on behalf of Masterson were revealed Friday. The day before, Masterson was sentenced to 30 years to life after being convicted of two counts of rape. Kutcher hailed Masterson as “a role model,” while his wife extolled his “excellent character” in letters, which reportedly were written after a jury found him guilty of two attacks that occurred in his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.
Masterson has long denied the allegations against him, pleading not guilty during two trials. His defense argued that he had consensual sex with the women, and his first trial ended in a hung jury.
Clockwise from left: Topher Grace, Wilmer Valderrama, Mila Kunis. Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon, and Danny Masterson. Exclusively for use in advertising and promotion relating to television exhibition through Fox Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. ©1998 Fox Broadcasting Company CR: Michael Lavine/Fox
When the attacks occurred, Masterson, Kutcher and Kunis all worked together in “That ’70s Show,” which ran from 1998 to 2006. In the spring of 2003, Kutcher began dating Moore, she said. His star was on the rise with “That ’70s Show” and his hidden camera show, “Punk’d,” while she was an established Hollywood figure. Much was made of their 15-year age difference: He was 25, and she was 40. In Moore’s first meeting with Kutcher, she said he was “prancing around” in his New York City hotel suite in a towel, as he was about to take a shower.
Moore said they immediately hit it off. “There was just an ease between us, a deep comfort — and a lot of electricity,” she said. She also didn’t see him as a “flaky” kid but as a young man who already had “a very mature approach to life.”
But certain passages of Moore’s book could give ammunition to those who have accused the actor and tech entrepreneur of perpetuating “rape culture” by defending Masterson and who now question his long-time advocacy for sex trafficking victims.
Soon after they began dating, Moore said she opened up to Kutcher about being raped at age 15 by an older man. Moore said Kutcher was the first person she “really talked to” about the rape, which allowed her “to start dealing with that trauma, that shame, and to start healing.” But if Kutcher was so empathetic in that conversation with Moore, people may wonder how he could have possibly penned his letter on behalf of Masterson, in which he barely acknowledge his friend’s crimes.
Before they split, Moore and Kutcher also launched a nonprofit, later named Thorn, to combat online sex trafficking. Moore’s book said they continue to collaborate on the nonprofit while Kutcher has said that the inspiration to take action on sex trafficking came as they were watching a documentary about child sex trafficking in Cambodia.
Hubby & I have started The Demi and Ashton Foundation or The DNA Foundation as we like 2 call it. We’re ready 2 help bring an end 2 slavery1
— Demi Moore (@justdemi) September 23, 2009
But Moore also revealed that the official launch of the nonprofit, at a 2010 Clinton Global Initiative event, coincided with news breaking about the first time Kutcher cheated on her. Moore said she was out of town when she learned that Kutcher had slept with another 21-year-old woman in their home. Moore also revealed that the young woman hit on Kutcher when they were out with her oldest daughter, Rumer.
Moore said she and Kutcher went ahead with the Clinton Global Initiative event, during which she spoke about launching a campaign to try to alter the culture that enables men to feel OK about paying for sex with underage girls. Moore recalled speaking to a room full of important people, while standing next to her husband, “who’d just cheated on me with a girl about the age of my oldest daughter.” While Moore said at the event, “Real men protect, respect, love, and care for girls,” she privately did not “feel protected, respected, loved, or cared for myself.”
Actor Ashton Kutcher laughs with his wife actress Mila Kunis while posing for pictures on the red carpet for the 6th annual 2018 Breakthrough Prizes at Moffett Federal Airfield, Hangar One in Mountain View, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
Over the weekend, people picked apart statements Kutcher and Kunis made in their character letters for Masterson. Kutcher devoted paragraph after to paragraph to describing Masterson as “nothing but a positive influence on me.”
People particularly focused on the couple’s claims that Masterson was critical of drug use. Kutcher said he attributed “not falling into the typical Hollywood life of drugs directly to Danny,” while Kunis said that “Danny played a pivotal role in guiding me away from such destructive paths.” Critics said these statements appeared to be a response to specific allegations in the case, even an attempt to “undermine” the victims’ accusations that Masterson drugged, then raped them.
In an attempt at damage control, Kutcher and Kunis recorded a video in which they apologized for their letters.
“We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters that we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson,” Kutcher said in the video. He also said the letters “were intended for the judge to read and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or re-traumatize them in any way. We would never want to do that, and we’re sorry if that has taken place.”
Kunis added, “Our heart goes out to every single person who’s ever been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse or rape.”
But their apology video didn’t go over well with many on social media.
Journalist Yashar Ali also said it appeared that Church of Scientology lawyers helped craft the letters, as well as the apology video. Masterson is a Scientologist, and his trial contained allegations that the controversial organization tried to stop the victims from going to authorities. Ali said the letters “were intended to undermine the victims.”
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis just posted this video, with heavily lawyered language, in response to the reaction to their writing letters on behalf of Danny Masterson.
It’s important to note that the letters weren’t just character letters you’d write for a friend.
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) September 9, 2023
Others criticizing the support letters and apology video included Chrissie Carnell Bixler, one of Masterson’s alleged victims. In an Instagram Story post, she told Kutcher: “In my opinion, you’re just as sick as your ‘mentor.’” She added that Kunis should start processing her experience on “That ’70s Show” and seek therapy. She shared old footage from “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” in which Kunis recalled Kutcher making a “side bet” with Masterson about French-kissing her when she was 14 years old on “That ’70s Show.”
Bixler and others cited other ways Kutcher showed questionable behavior in the past, specifically pointing to a 2003 video of the actor speaking on his MTV show “Punk’d” about actress Hilary Duff. In the video, Kutcher says Duff, who was a minor at the time, is “one of the girls that we’re all waiting for to turn 18. Along with the Olsen twins.”
Christina Ricci also slammed Kutcher and Kunis for their letters, though without naming them. On Instagram Story, the “Addams Family” star said, just because people we love and admire don’t do “horrible things” to us, “that doesn’t mean they didn’t do horrible things” to others. “To discredit the abused is a crime,” Ricci said.
“If we say we support victims — women, children, men, boys — then we must be able to take this stance,” Ricci said.