Ashton Kutcher Just Opened Up About Estrangement From Twin Brother
The actor and his brother, Michael Kutcher, share how they rebuilt their relationship.
They're in a good place now, but Ashton Kutcher's relationship with his twin brother, Michael Kutcher, hasn't been all smooth sailing. The siblings shared a tight bond as kids, but as they got older and moved into different careers, they drifted apart. In a joint appearance on the new Paramount+ show The Checkup with Dr. David Agus, Ashton and Michael opened up about what strained their relationship—including Michael's health struggles and Ashton's acting career—and shared what brought them back together. Read on to find out more.
Ashton and Michael were very close growing up.
When Ashton and Michael were born, it was a surprise to their parents, who thought they were having just one baby. As the boys got older, Michael was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which Mayo Clinic describes as "a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle tone or posture." Ashton made sure that Michael was always included when they were kids.
"He's my brother. If I'm playing, he's playing," Ashton said on The Checkup, according to Entertainment Tonight. Michael explained, "My parents had the whole philosophy that Mike's going to be able to do anything that his brother can do and they challenged me. Growing up, [Ashton] challenged me as well."
When Michael and Ashton were in eighth grade, Michael found out that he'd need a heart transplant—quickly—due to viral cardiomyopathy, which caused his heart to become enlarged to four times its normal size. Ashton said that he thought that he should give up his own heart for his twin.
"I'm thinking to myself, 'If anyone's a match, I'm a match,'" Ashton said through tears. "Now you start running that cycle through your head. You're like, 'This balcony looks far enough to take things.'" Luckily, Michael ended up receiving his life-saving transplant through organ donation.
They drifted apart as adults.
Michael and Ashton explained that their relationship became strained, in part, because of Ashton's modeling and acting career taking off.
"There was a moment when I viewed him as receiving more attention than I was and that kind of drove me down to a place where I was jealous," Michael explained. "It really affected me in terms of my own self-worth. It goes back to trying to figure out who I am."
Ashton added, "It's so easy to believe the good things people are saying about you and start to onboard that as who you are as a person. Frankly, I was just an [expletive] for a while."
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They worked through their issues.
Ashton shared that he and Michael had a "moment of reckoning and realization" and "decided to tear down the walls that [they] had built that were all a product of these variable circumstances."
Michael added, "Once we kind of got together, we talked through that and I realized he's still my brother. The world may view him differently, but I know him. He's still my brother and he hasn't changed and he never will change. Once I took all of the fame and everything out of it, I was able to come back to him."
Michael revealed something that changed Ashton's perspective.
Michael shared something with his brother that changed the way Ashton treated him because of his health.
Ashton explained, "There was a moment in all of this where I moved to New York and was starting to get some traction with my career and Mike came out to visit and stay and he looked at me and he said, 'Every time you feel sorry for me, you make me less.' He said, 'This is the only life I've ever known, so stop feeling sorry for the only thing I have.' And that then created an entire shift back to where I think we are today, which is straight up equals. That's it."
Michael is an advocate for organ donation and cerebral palsy.
Another tough moment in Michael and Ashton's relationship ended up shaping Michael's life and career. In 2021, Michael admitted to Today that he was hurt and upset when Ashton revealed publicly that his twin had cerebral palsy in 2003.
"I was very angry. Very angry. I remember speaking to him about it," Michael told Today. "I didn't want to be the face of CP. I never talked about it." But, he grew to realize that Ashton "did [him] the biggest favor he's ever done because he allowed [him] to be [himself]."
Today, Michael is an advocate and public speaker specializing in cerebral palsy and organ donation. He's worked with The Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Donate Life, according to his website. He's also worked for Transamerica Retirement and is an advisor for the app Joshin, which helps people find care and support for family members with disabilities.