It’s easy to despise Ashton Kutcher. He’s got looks, money and a CBS show, Two and a Half Men, that’s as popular as when Charlie Sheen starred in it. (CBS just signed him for a second season.) And yet, you have to give Kutcher credit for getting after it. The dude is a successful web entrepreneur in his own right and has 17 producing credits to his name. Perhaps it’s not that far-fetched that he’ll be playing a young Steve Jobs in a movie next year. We just have a few questions for him.
MADE MAN: Where do you get your business sense?
ASHTON KUTCHER: I was a biochemical engineering major in college, and I’ve always stayed up with technology. About six years ago, I did a digital content deal with AOL, right as buffering was getting to the point where you didn’t have to wait 20 minutes to watch a video online. I just continued to pursue that and forged relationships. I have an appetite for it and just follow my passions and interests.
If you believe the good stuff people say, then you have to believe the bad stuff.
MM: You’re a serious guy in person but seem to specialize in characters that are fairly clueless…
AK: I’m serious when I’m talking to the press because I’m always on guard! I never know what you’re going to ask and how you’re going to construe my answer. I try to maintain a pretty even pace when I’m speaking with the media. So, that might not necessarily reflect who I am.
MM: Some Two and a Half Men viewers see your character as an extension of Kelso from That ’70s Show. Is that a fair assessment?
AK: There’s probably a childlike quality that we intentionally brought to the character in an effort to sort of soften him a little bit, and plus he was going through this sort of broken-hearted phase. Walden is probably far less of a ladies’ man per se than what Kelso was. I think he’s probably a little bit quicker, smarter, brighter. That being said, there are similarities in the way I deliver comedy. It’s probably that overtone that people are connecting to the most.
MM: You have been through a lot this year, some good stuff, some not good stuff. What have you learned?
AK: You know, I’ve had a blast. Since I stopped doing That ’70s Show, I’ve always wanted to go back and do television. When I was working on that show, Robin Williams visited the set and said, “Man, I just wish I could go back and do a sitcom again.” And I never forgot hearing that. Right now I’m just focused the show and my anti-human trafficking organization. I just want to keep that moving forward.
MM: You totally changed your look for Men, cutting your hair and shaving the beard…
AK: How it evolved is, these guys wrote a screenplay that dictated that I cut my hair and shave my beard at some point. When I’m not working on something specifically, I tend to just let it be a growing field, because you never know what you’re going to play. When I first met the producers, I was starting to get a little shaggy, and we just kept it in the script.
MM: Have you learned any lessons this year from mistakes on Twitter?
AK: I think the biggest thing is that it’s a real-time service, and so the impulse is to stay ahead of the curve and know what’s going on. I just take that extra pause now and make sure that I’m fully educated on what I’m talking about. It’s a really great lesson for life, too, just taking that pause and being sure that what you’re doing is what you want to be doing.
MM: Is it hard not to pay too much attention to what people think about your work on social media?
AK: If you believe the good stuff people say, then you have to believe the bad stuff. And then you allow yourself to be on a roller coaster of what other people think. So, I think you try to find the good in the bad and the bad in the good and balance yourself with sanity.