Content Warning: This article touches on the topic of sexual assault which may be triggering for some readers.
That ‘70s Show catapulted Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis to fame in the early 2000s.
The popular sitcom also starred Danny Masterson, who in May 2023 was convicted of two counts of forcible rape, and was recently sentenced by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F Olmedo to 30 years to life in prison.
And Ashton and Mila have come under serious fire for each writing a character letter to Judge Olmedo on behalf of their former co-star ahead of his sentencing, in the hopes that a lesser punishment was handed down.
Ashton and Mila – who have been married since 2015 – were among 50 others (such as Giovanni Ribisi and Billy Baldwin) who wrote a character letter for Danny.
Independent journalist Tony Ortega of the Substack The Underground Bunker first obtained copies of these letters and published them in full on September 9, 2023, two days after Danny was sentenced.
Ashton described Danny in his letter as “nothing but a positive influence” and “an extraordinarily honest and intentional human being”.
The actor ended his letter with, “While I’m aware that the judgement has been cast as guilty on two counts of rape by force and the victims have a great desire for justice, I hope that my testament to [Danny’s] character is taken into consideration in sentencing.
“I do not believe he is an ongoing harm to society and having his daughter raised without a present father would [be] a tertiary injustice in and of itself.”
Similarly, Mila described Danny in her letter as an “amazing friend, confidant, and, above all, an outstanding older brother figure,” before adding:
“I wholeheartedly vouch for Danny Masterson’s exceptional character and the tremendous positive influence he has had on me and the people around him. His dedication to leading a drug-free life and the genuine care he extends to others make him an outstanding role model and friend.”
The backlash online once these letters went public was swift. Many took to Instagram, Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter) to voice their disappointment and outrage at Ashton and Mila.
For example, one X user took to the platform to write, “The Ashton/Mila letters are disgusting on so many levels, but the absolute f***ing nerve of praising Danny Masterson for his commitment to a drug-free lifestyle when he used drugs to incapacitate his victims!”
Actress Christina Ricci even seemingly called out Ashton and Mila. She wrote on her Instagram story, “So sometimes people we have loved and admired do horrible things. They might not do these things to us and we only know who they were to us but that doesn’t mean they didn’t do the horrible things and to discredit the abused is a crime.
“People we know as ‘awesome guys’ can be predators and abusers. It’s tough to accept but we have to. If we say we support victims – women, children, men, boys – then we must be able to take this stance… Believe victims. It’s not easy to come forward. It’s not easy to get a conviction.”
Comedian Kathy Griffin addressed the controversy surrounding Ashton and Mila too by sharing a harrowing story about her brother on TikTok.
Kathy began her video by saying, “Okay, I’m weighing in on the whole Danny Masterson, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis thing because, you know, it’s so difficult to get a conviction in a rape trial…”
“But the notion that this guy was also convicted of drugging these women… that is such serious stuff that I don’t really care that when they were working on That ‘70s Show he was a good guy to work with,” she continued before adding:
“My brother, who’s now dead, his name was Ken Griffin, was a paedophile – I wrote about it in my first book – and it was a horrible, horrible thing and I tried to get him caught.
“And that was my brother, so I don’t want to hear about Ashton and Mila and Giovanni Ribisi and people that feel like they had to stick up for Danny Masterson because he was their bro, he was their buddy.”
Ultimately, there was so much criticism on social media, that Ashton posted a video of him and Mila apologising on Instagram.
“We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters that we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson,” Ashton said.
“We support victims. We have done this historically through our work and will continue to do so in the future,” Mila continued, clearly referencing her and Ashton’s heavy involvement with Thorn, an anti-human trafficking organisation Ashton co-founded. (Note: in light of this controversy, Ashton stepped down as chairman of the board of Thorn on September 14).
Ashton then explained, “A couple months ago, Danny’s family reached out to us, and they asked us to write character letters to represent the person that we knew for 25 years, so that the judge could take that into full consideration relative to the sentencing.”
“The letters were not written to question the legitimacy of the judicial system or the validity of the jury’s ruling,” Mila chimed in before Ashton added:
“They were intended for the judge to read and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or re-traumatise them in any way. We would never want to do that. And we’re sorry if that has taken place.”
“Our heart goes out to every single person who’s ever been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or rape,” Mila concluded.
Comments were eventually turned off on this post as the condemnation continued.
“They’re sorry they got backlash,” one person wrote on X about Ashton and Mila’s video.
“When it comes to writing character statements, you are tying your name to the person. You are saying, with your whole chest, I support this person. Sometimes that is the right call to make, but probably don’t do it for rapists. Any apology you give after the fact is empty,” another Tweeted.
Of course, some have rushed to defend Ashton and Mila; but they’re in the minority.
One person wrote on X, “Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are non issues here. It’s a common practice in the legal system and to write about your experience with a person is totally normal. They did not negate victims. They are not the people to be mad at.”
Overall, no matter your stance on the situation, one thing is certainly undeniable: everyone’s talking about Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis…
If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit their website.