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Ashton Kutcher Says Divorce Made Him Feel Like 'a Failure'

Esquire 3/12/2023 Josh Rosenberg
The actor addressed his 2011 split with Demi Moore, and the peak of his tabloid-frenzied fame: "I was an a******." © Billy Kidd The actor addressed his 2011 split with Demi Moore, and the peak of his tabloid-frenzied fame: "I was an a******."

During some of the most tumultuous years of Ashton Kutcher’s career, the That '70s Show star was also a stepfather to three young children. “I was twenty-six, bearing the responsibility of an eight-year-old, a ten-year-old, and a twelve-year-old,” Kutcher told Esquire in our first-ever digital cover story. It was, as he said, “a lot.”

The actor—who now lives a relatively private life, married to his co-star Mila Kunis—was just getting his celebrity sea legs at the time. His first marriage was to actress Demi Moore in the early 2000s, a time he can now look back on as a major period of self-improvement. And yet, he’s still not entirely excited to “open anything up in that realm.” Kutcher was 15 years Moore's junior in 2003, when the news broke about their relationship. He was wholly unready for the way tabloids would treat them as a couple. He lambasted the press on one of Twitter’s earliest and most-followed accounts, now realizing, “It’s stupid to complain about things that you’re contributing to.”

Moore would reveal in her 2019 memoir, Inside Out, that she was struggling with a drinking problem during their marriage. After reports of Kutcher’s infidelity and IVF problems following a miscarriage, the two separated in 2011. “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,” he says. “Everyone deals with that in different ways.” Kutcher looks back on that time in his life thinking that “for whatever reason, I had to have that experience,” but admits, “Nothing makes you feel like a failure like divorce.”

Kunis and Kutcher used their shared experience in the celebrity world to maintain some anonymity. They’ve returned to the spotlight with That '90s Show, a reboot of the original sitcom that brought them together, but they don’t post photos of their children or goad the tabloids. “The thing about Mila that made our relationship accelerate was that I had always admired her,” Kutcher explains. “Her talents, her skills, her gifts. But I knew that she didn’t need me. And she knew that I didn’t need her… We already knew all of each other’s dirt.”

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