Ashton Kutcher talks ‘jOBS,’ bad films, data chips in Esquire
Ashton Kutcher is living a double life, or so his latest profile in Esquire magazine would have us believe. On one hand, he’s an actor who’s taken goofy, likable-guy kinds of roles and parlayed them into a career and, on the other, he’s a tech-geek, venture capitalist who’s trying to change the world.
And if there’s one thing we learned from this lengthy story, it’s that he loves to work, despite his description as “dumb-actor savant” by Esquire’s Tom Chiarella.
Kutcher has come a long way since his role on “That ‘70s Show.” The new “Two and a Half Men” star will play the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in the upcoming biopic “jOBS.” The ex-Mr. Demi Moore is also dating his “That ‘70s Show” costar Mila Kunis.
As for his acting career, he said he’s acutely aware of what films he’s done that have been awful but succeeded at the box office (See: “What Happens in Vegas,” Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve”). Chiarella counts “Dude, Where’s My Car?” as one of the actor’s best films.
“I know exactly what films I’ve done that ... suck ...,” Kutcher said. “And I know the ones that are good, that people like. And I know it not because of the box office, because the box office is not going to tell you the truth. I know it because I have friends that don’t hold back. They don’t depend on me for money or employment. They’re just friends. Friends tell the truth.”
The 35-year-old also calls his friends “data nodes” and the advice they give him “data chips.”
“My big thing is, fail fast. If you’re going to [fail], get it over with,” Kutcher said. “That’s one of the things I talk to the companies about, the ones we work with. I’m like, look, it didn’t work. Fine. Move on. It’s a tricky thing to figure out .... That’s when you have to surround yourself with brutally honest people who will be like, ‘Dude, you suck at this. Stop.’ I have, like, two or three really strong data nodes that I know will tell me: ‘I don’t get it.’ ”
He adds: “I know who these people are in my life. Partners, friends, coworkers. You have a movie and you show it to them, and if it sucks you want them to be like, ‘Dude, that kind of blows.’”
For all his good looks and aw, shucks charm, there is a mastermind scheming under that onetime model’s face. He had a hand in making Twitter what is has become, invested in Spotify and is also the highest-paid actor in television, reportedly earning $24 million between May 2011 and May 2012. Read up on more fun facts about him here, including the one about him having a twin named Michael.
When he read a pope-joins-Twitter headline off his phone in the middle of a “Men” rehearsal during the Esquire interview process, writer Chiarella wondered if he got the news from his Twitter feed.
“I actually wasn’t on Twitter,” Kutcher explained later. “I have this kid who collects information from the Internet for me. That’s where I saw the pope thing. Just a daily headline roundup: what’s happening on the Web, what companies are buying and selling, what the big companies are doing. Generally it’s redundant — I get it in the morning news. But every once in a while, something happens that I didn’t catch up to: Big segment shifts that are happening like, you know, when Apple went vertical with maps ... and when you see something like that, when we meet with companies that are pitching my fund — or whatever it might be — that information can be really, really valuable to have. So I was reading just a daily roundup of headlines, an information-building system for me.”
See, venture-capitalist mastermind.
Which leads us to “jOBS,” in which Kutcher plays his hero, a seemingly unlikely role for the guy we’ve come to know and love as a goofy actor. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and Kutcher said he thinks “it turned out really well.”
“Jobs was an extraordinary guy, but a very ordinary guy in many ways,” Kutcher said. “There was this one speech that I found where he said, ‘So when you grow up, if you spend your life trying not to bounce into walls, just inheriting what you get, you gotta know your life can be a lot broader than that. Once you realize one simple thing: Everything around you that you call life was made by people who are no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use.’
“And I heard that and I knew exactly what the niche for making the movie was, what the social need for making the movie was. For people seeking purpose.”
And does he want to be seen as forever young?
“I certainly don’t think I’m deserving of taking up space forever as a human. There’s a whole generation of people yet to be born that are going to be so much more evolved than I am. I don’t want to take up space. They’re going to be better equipped to make the world a better place than I am.”
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