When Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher first went public as a real-life couple, the Twitterverse rejoiced.
Apparently Jackie and Kelso’s roller-coaster teen love affair on That ’70s Show was more meaningful to people than anyone could have anticipated—including Kunis and Kutcher.
The actors have never forgotten their humble sitcom roots, but they’ve made it clear that the set of their Fox sitcom was not where the magic happened. Not even when she shared her first kiss ever in a scene with her onscreen boyfriend.
“I think we had to both go through a lot in our lives to be the become the people that we were [when we finally got together],” Kunis once explained to Howard Stern. “We would never be together based on the people that we used to be.”
Then aren’t we glad we didn’t have to fret over a version of Kunis and Kutcher that wasn’t meant to be, because these two seem so perfectly suited for each other now. And it would take such a match to be able to pull off what these two have managed over the last nine years. (And we don’t mean keeping their friends close despite owning controversial personal hygiene habits.)
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Rather, they’re major Hollywood players without being at all Hollywood themselves.
Such is a major feat on so many levels, not least of them being how photogenic they both are.
“I never looked at him as somebody that was good-looking, I never looked at him as somebody that wasn’t,” Kunis recalled thinking during their That ’70s Show days. It wasn’t until years later that she saw him—or more accurately, the back of some tall guy—at an award show and was blown away.
“And then he just turns around and it was literally like if we were in a movie, the music would start playing,” the actress said. “I think that he, for the first time ever, took my breath away.”
She went home with him (that’s about as normal-girl a reaction as one might have, right?), but while they would both prove to be down for the count in the end, they started out taking a cue from their respective movies and trying the whole No Strings Attached/Friends With Benefits game themselves.
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Sure, the fact that they fell in love and were really meant to be is a bit more of a Hollywood ending than most people who embark on that noble experiment eventually get. But how admirably average of them to start out that way.
So they beat the odds there. Moreover, Kunis was only about a year removed from her eight-year relationship with Macaulay Culkin, whom she’d been dating since she was 19, and Kutcher was still mired in divorce proceedings when they first reunited—never a recipe for rebound success.
What their respective experiences led to, however, was a mutual desire to not make a big deal about their own relationship—not in public, that is—and that has continued to be a shared goal.
“You know, I’ve learned the hard way how valuable privacy is,” Kutcher said in the April 2013 issue of Elle. “And I’ve learned that there are a lot of things in your life that really benefit from being private. And relationships are one of them. And I am going to do everything in my power to have this relationship be private.”
All these years later, that hasn’t changed, even when outside forces conspire against him.
Back Sept. 2019, Kutcher seemingly subtweeted a response to the various headlines ex-wife Demi Moore‘s new memoir had been making, none of them painting the Punk’d visionary turned successful venture capitalist and star of Netflix’s The Ranch in a particularly flatting light.
“I was about to push the button on a really snarky tweet,” he wrote. “Then I saw my son, daughter, and wife and I deleted it. [heart emoji]”
As a source told E!, “The unwanted attention has been hard to deal with. They have no interest in being dragged into the spotlight or reliving the past,” a source shared with E! News. “Ashton knew it was coming and he did have a heads up. But of course he would prefer not be brought into this.”
Then they went to Disneyland.
So, while privacy is paramount when it comes to their marriage (they wed very quietly) and two children—Wyatt Isabelle, 6, and son Dimitri Portwood, 4—whose faces they’ve never voluntarily shared with the world, they haven’t become recluses, either.
Rather, they hide in plain sight.
They do extraordinarily normal things, and with the expectation that they’re going to be where you are—on a hike, doing yoga, watching a Dodgers game, eating eggs in the Valley—has come the acceptance of them as part of the La La Land scenery. And though they both clean up impressively, they keep it very casual in their day to day life. Kunis has even said that she keeps her Tiffany diamond engagement ring in a safety deposit box, in case someone’s inclined to “chop my hand off” to steal it.
So they’ve struck just the right balance between beloved Hollywood couple and regulars at the neighborhood café, probably because they’re actually nice, interesting-seeming people who haven’t detached from the world around them, despite all the success.
Kutcher—a savvy investor who’s been tweeting since before it was, literally, all the rage and now is quite bullish on cryptocurrency—memorably opened the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2017 with some off-the-cuff political commentary that set Twitter ablaze. The couple share political leanings, both attending the 2018 Women’s March, and Kunis has been known to make donations to Planned Parenthood in former Vice President Mike Pence‘s name. She revealed in 2018 that she even got into it with a member of her husband’s family before Donald Trump was elected.
“We both just so vehemently disagreed on a specific issue that to me is very important,” she shared on Marc Maron‘s WTF podcast. “Women’s rights, which sounds so stupid to say like, ‘Oh but to me it’s important, but to you it’s not.’ I don’t know why it wouldn’t be.”
Kunis, a Golden Globe nominee for Black Swan in 2011, took a break to focus on family after Wyatt was born and then got back into it with Bad Moms—which was enough of a hit to get a sequel, Bad Moms Christmas.
All the while, she’s had one of the great gigs in show business, providing the voice of Meg on Family Guy for the better part of two decades.
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In 2017, making her first red carpet appearance in months to tease Bad Moms Christmas at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, she was as friendly and relatable as always.
“My girlfriends and I went out to dinner a month ago and I got home at 10:30 from a dinner, and I had three Penicillins, which is a delicious, delicious beverage,” Kunis shared with E! News, recounting her updated version of a wild girls’ night out. “Hammered. Three drinks, I am now a very cheap date.”
Since the subject came up a lot while she was promoting Bad Moms, Kunis got used to answering questions about her own approach to parenting—and she never shied away from the truth about how darn hard it was to nail the work-kids-husband juggling act.
“This is the only movie I’ve done between baby one and baby two, so I’ve changed my work schedule a little,” she said on Today in 2016. “I think that when I got pregnant with Wyatt, I put so much pressure on myself to figure out how am I going to balance work and life, and I realized it’s impossible. I think it literally ate me alive.”
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“When you do a film, you work average 15 to 17-hour days, that’s my baby’s entire day that I’m missing—from before wake-up to after bedtime. You’ve got to pick a project that’s worth it.”
But while how much time to devote to the still-pretty-glamorous business of movie-making is not a conundrum that most moms and dads face, their approach to parenting has been fairly recognizable.
“We both came from pretty solid poverty backgrounds and grew up very poor. Nothing’s been handed to us,” a 7-months-pregnant Kunis said on Australia’s Kyle and Jackie O Show in August 2016.
“On one hand it’s beautiful, [our kids will] never know what it’s like to have ketchup soup for dinner, but they’ll never know how to appreciate things.”
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That being said, Kunis added, she and Kutcher were going to do their best to “raise a child not to be an a–hole.”
The couple didn’t hire a nanny until Kunis went back to work—so she would be up for late-night feedings and Kutcher was on diaper duty. The Dude, Where’s My Car? star also became “a master swaddler,” Kunis informed Ellen DeGeneres in 2015. “He can swaddle anyone’s baby. If your baby needs to be swaddled, he will do it. Call him. He is a pro.”
They brought Wyatt along on dinner dates, even the ones at trendy vegan small-plates restaurants, buckling in the car seat and folding up the stroller just like any family. They’ve also packed up all the kid paraphernalia for longer excursions too, and both kids already have a few stamps in their passports.
When Kunis shot The Spy Who Dumped Me with Kate McKinnon, the whole family went to Hungary for the summer, she and Kutcher having decided that, whenever possible, they want the kids with them always.
Despite Kutcher’s multi-platform social media presence, and a willingness to share more couple shots than when they first started out, the pragmatic duo have kept Wyatt and Dimitri off of Instagram.
When Wyatt was first born, Kutcher memorably posted a handful of baby photos and told fans they could guess which one was his. The couple have also benefited from the unofficial embargo on paparazzi pics taken of celebrities’ kids that many outlets (including this one) agreed to, the new system going into effect before Wyatt was born.
While the shutterbugs will never fly away entirely, the duo have been able to motor around somewhat more comfortably in order to take their kids on errands, to birthday parties and other places that everyone needs to take their kids to sometimes.
Neither Kutcher nor Kunis is much one for showing off themselves off either, with Kutcher using his social media more for current event commentary and Kunis simply going without.
“What I do and who I am are two different things and, to me, it was always really important to keep those things separate,” Kunis explained her nonexistent social media footprint to Australia’s Daily Telegraph. “I don’t want people thinking they know me to the point where they feel comfortable coming in my house without being invited. For security reasons, it just wasn’t worth it. I’d rather have my privacy over anything.”
She also highlighted another reason why she and Kutcher are one of those couples that look like they’d be fun to have a beer with—an early beer, so everyone can be back home in time to tuck the kids in.
“Clearly I’m the funny one, let’s be honest,” she teased. “I will say he makes me laugh every day. Sixty years from now, when we’re in our rocking chairs and I’m wearing a muumuu, I hope he’s still around and I’m still giggling, because the greatest gift you can give is making each other laugh.”
Sounds like a couple who won’t think they’re too cool for the early bird special at the corner café.
(Originally published March 29, 2017, at 3 a.m. PT)