He may be a college dropout, but Ashton Kutcher insists he's no dummy. In an interview with ELLE, the 35-year-old Iowa native addresses the criticism he faced after being cast as Apple co-creator Steve Jobs in the upcoming film jOBS.
"People fill in the blanks really fast. They go, 'Oh my God, he's on a show [Two and a Half Men] and [plays] stupid, so he must be stupid,' " Kutcher says. "I can't control that, nor do I try to, nor do I want to. There's something advantageous about having people underestimate your intellect, insomuch as a lot of things are revealed to you. They assume you don't know what you're talking about, then all of a sudden, you do. And the next thing you know, you have information you wouldn't normally have." (Coincidentally, Jobs was also a college dropout.)
The film's director, Joshua Michael Stern, insists there would have been a casting backlash regardless of which actor was given the role. A tech entrepreneur in his own right, Kutcher agreed to take the part, he says, because "it was something I was scared to do. That indicated to me that it was a good thing."
Kutcher says he made a concerted effort to find parts that challenge him both professionally and personally. "There was a point in time where I was doing movies to be able to afford to live in a certain way," says the star, whose notable film roles include Dude, Where's My Car?, What Happens in Vegas and Just Married. "You know, I didn't really go the starving-artist route. I kind of went and did massive, commercial things. [Two and a Half Men] is a very commercial show. But it's very fun to do. I'm surrounded by an amazing group of people. And I can be home for dinner."
The actor declines to discuss his relationship with Mila Kunis, whom he met more than a decade ago when they costarred on the FOX sitcom That '70s Show. "People will fill in the blanks however they want," says.
Following his November 2011 split with wife Demi Moore, Kutcher has become more guarded about his personal life. "You know, I've learned the hard way how valuable privacy is," he explains. "And I've learned that there are a lot of things in your life that really benefit from being private. And relationships are one of them. And I am going to do everything in my power to have this relationship [with Kunis] be private."
When asked about the current state of his relationship with Moore's three daughters, Kutcher tersely replies, "There are some things that are better left private." Upon a moment of reflection, he tells ELLE, "Someone once told me, 'If anyone wants to be rich and famous, let them be rich first and see if they still want to be famous.'"