Fans of Dude, Where’s My Car? will be disappointed to learn that Ashton Kutcher is not committed to its proposed sequel. Since this happy-go-lucky young actor has graduated to his own eight-episode MTV Jackass!-style reality series and executive producing his own sci-fi flick, his shoes are just too big for Jesse Richmond III in Seriously, Dude Where’s My Car?
"Someone wrote that in a magazine," says Kutcher of the As Seen in Variety rumor of his participation in part deux of Dude? "And all of the sudden that was the Bible. I haven’t even seen a script or committed to anything. I was on Letterman, and he asked me about it. I just joked that was the title of the next film, and all of the sudden they said I was doing it."
When asked if he would do the film after being formally asked to reprise his role, he gives the standard lane change by stating: "It would totally depend on the script and the director and all of the other elements."
In between all of these projects, both proposed and realized, Kutcher has revved up his career with yet another manic physical comedy, this time with a touch of good old-fashioned screwball. He plays a happy-go-lucky traffic reporter who falls for a sweet Beverly Hills gal (Brittany Murphy) through haphazard circumstances in Just Married.
In keeping with the conventions of the genre, her family isn’t convinced this not-so-rich suitor is quite good enough for their little girl. Ashton's character ends up marrying Brittany, and the actor dated her off-screen as well.
"I was doing That ‘70s Show at the same time (as filming the movie), so I was working 20 hour days while I was shooting it," says Kutcher of the filming, which took him to Europe. "But it was a blast! We got to go to Venice and everything. It was awesome. We were only there for seven days and I didn’t get to chill out there, but it was really amazing shooting there."
Thanks to the overwhelming tide of attention that Ashton received overseas, Just Married almost earned the working title of Dude, Where’s My Gondola?
"We were doing scenes like in the Piazza San Marco, and this crowd of like 100 people would come around and applaud. It was kinda cool," says Kutcher in a tone not too dissimilar to those of his blissfully unaware characters.
"We were working feverishly, and going in gondolas down the canals and people on the bridges would start yelling 'Dude, Where’s My Car?' at me. Which was kind of weird, because it was in an Italian accent."
As far as the romance that ensued from his canal-riding footsy-playing with Brittany Murphy, their so-in-love status, as seen on MTV and everywhere else, wasn’t as quickly recognized.
"We met during the movie, and then we went off and did our own movies. And then ten months after we finished the film, we started hanging out, and that’s when that really got going," says Kutcher coyly. Those who believe this match made in publicists' heaven might be a well-timed stunt to plug this Fox film, stay tuned to an awards show near you. They’ve done many presenter appearances together, so it will remain to be seen if they stay hitched after the film’s release.
In an attempt to get beyond being known as the comic sidekick or love interest, he executive-produced a film with a more scientific and serious side. Hopefully, the project, titled The Butterfly Effect, will help him dispel vehicularly-challenged films for years to come.
"It's pretty intense. It's about a guy who has the ability to change his past," he says of the time-jumping sci-fi film, which is tentatively scheduled for an April release from New Line. "By doing so, he [changes] his present day. So he ends up chasing his own tail, because every time he changes something, something horrible happens to someone he loves."
Actors frequently struggle to escape the spark that ignites their careers. Even Tom Hanks, with two Oscars and a handful of serious and acclaimed roles under his belt, will always be a Bosom Buddy to '80s-era TV viewers. Thanks to the huge run of his hit Fox comedy, Kutcher will surely always be known as that guy from That ‘70s Show.
However, the transition has been quite smooth for him, since he’s chosen to play characters that are similar to Michael Kelso, his befuddled small screen persona. The one thing he does miss when he’s on a film set is the "instant gratification" of doing a show in front of a live audience. But the step up to movies is a welcome one, since time can lead to more growth in his characters.
"You cannot even compare the two. But they take the same kind of skills. You get to be more focused on a film though, and can get a little more detailed with things and have more options. You shoot something over the course of a few days on a film, but on the TV show, you shoot it all at once in one day."
His return to the small screen might get him recognized as the next Johnny Knoxville or Jamie Kennedy. Kutcher will conduct an experiment of his own for MTV with "a reality show that is based on my wicked imagination and messing with my friends."
"It’s a guerilla —style candid camera show," he says of his jump into the reality arena. "It’s right on the edge of what we’re allowed to do. We’re really going to be messing with people."
One can already see the warning statement that flashes on the screen before most of MTV's raucous reality programming: Dude, Don’t Try This At Home!