Ashton Kutcher on "Guess Who"
Ashton Kutcher was in LA recently to talk to the press about his new film, "Guess Who?" a loosely made remake of the classic "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?," but before he could get started, there were the inimitable questions about his personal life, his romance with Demi Moore and the rumors (propagated mainly by the scandal mongers at the New York Post and celebrity gossip queens like Entertainment Weekly’s Ted Casablanca) that he’d made Bruce Willis’ ex-wife pregnant.
"What? Why am I the last person to find out everything?" Kutcher said when the questions were asked. "I’m going to be a daddy? God, nobody tells me anything. I mean if Demi’s pregnant, she’s certainly not showing yet."
While such personal questions would be rude in almost any setting, they’ve virtually replaced intelligent conversation when it comes to covering Hollywood these days. The young actor’s grace under pressure is admirable, though he also admits talking about his personal life when he’s just trying to do his job is something he’s happy to have to deal with on a daily basis.
"Am I relaxed about it? No. I don’t like talking about it at all," Kutcher admits. "But at the same time if somebody’s going to ask me a question, I’m not going to lie. You know, it could get real awkward and I could like pull one of those "I’m not talking about this or that" things, but I don’t have anything to hide. I have no skeletons I’m worried about."
Cool as he seems on the outside, however, the 27-year-old ex-model draws the line when it comes to the paparazzi invading his private life. "I think the weirdest thing is when they’re at your house. That’s like the creepiest thing. You just walk outside and they’re there," he says. "That’s the place that you thought was off limits, but unfortunately it’s not because the laws don’t permit that. You can’t do anything about it."
Kutcher was a lot more open to questions from the press that actually pertained to his new movie, which he says is based more on the spirit of the classic Sidney Poitier movie than an actual remake of the movie.
"First and foremost we wanted to show respect towards the original film because watching Sidney Poitier in that movie and Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy . . . I just have so much respect for what it did for interracial relationships at the time," he said. "So we knew from the start that we weren’t even going to use the title. It’s just too much. All we tried to do was take the basic premise and the heart and the soul of the original and bring it to our film. And I think the real trick is finding the relevance of that story today because it’s a different climate. It’s still something that I think needs to be addressed."
While he’s certainly known as a celebrity whose popularity knows no racial boundaries today, Kutcher said he had experienced racism growing up in his Iowa hometown.
"When I was growing up in Cedar Rapids I had a couple of friends, and one of them was black and I wasn’t really aware of it until I wanted to invite him down to this family reunion and my mom told me that might not be a great idea. And I was like - why? I don’t know - some of the relatives (might not) think that was a good idea. I was like - why? I really couldn’t understand it. She sort of explained it to me. It was not pleasant and it wasn’t right.
"Man, it’s interesting," he continued. "You go to LA and New York and it is better. Just go out in Middle America for a while and you will find out why.
It’s not just race either. It’s religion. It’s sexual orientation. It’s all of that stuff. It’s anything that causes us to separate our selves from somebody else, so that I’m different from you because of this. Like the great Sidney Poitier said to his father in the original movie; "You see yourself as a black man. I just see myself as a man."’
And while his new movie certainly concentrates on the comedy generated by Kutcher and his co-star, Bernie Mac, the young star is as proud for the edge the film walks as its broad comic appeal. "You can laugh at it and you can enjoy it and I think that once you can get people laughing at something then you go to the uncomfortable places," he said. "When I saw the film, it did that for me. Even when I was watching it at a couple of test screenings, and every time I watched the dinner table scene where my character tells Black jokes to a Black family, there were audible gasps form the audience. Everybody in the theatre was on pins and needles and didn’t know whether to laugh or not.
"It was beautiful," he said, "because if it’s still uncomfortable, then it’s not dead yet. I think everybody’s getting real comfortable now with the state of race relationships, and we should not be comfortable yet. If there was real equality, nobody would be uncomfortable in the theatre. And that’s the whole point. It is uncomfortable and we’ve got a lot to do and it isn’t all even yet. It’s not all right and that’s why the movie needs to be made, and I think that it does just that."