That ’70s Show ran on Fox for eight years (1998–2006) but somehow only took place over the course of four years, such is the time-slowing effects of the show’s nostalgia filter. The classic sitcom, which made stars out of previously unknown actors such as Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon, and Mila Kunis, depicted the lives of teens (and then young adults) in the small town of Point Place, Wis. as they did timeless teen stuff like hanging out in a basement, driving around listening to Cheap Trick, trying to score beers, trying to score with each other, and feeling "all alright" in those notorious smoke circles.
There was another lingering haze on That ’70s Show, however — the lingering haze of drama. During its lengthy run, the cast tried to keep its darkest secrets hidden, but the shady truth about the period sitcom has gradually emerged. Brace yourself for some not-so-funny news.
Danny Masterson was accused of rape
In the fall of 2017, amid the deluge of sexual assault allegations against powerful men in Hollywood, Danny Masterson was accused of raping four women in the early 2000s, while he was starring in That ’70s Show.
As the Los Angeles Police Department investigated the allegations, Netflex announced the release date of Season 4 of The Ranch, which stars Masterson and fellow ’70s co-star Ashton Kutcher. The streaming service’s decision prompted an uproar from those who felt Netflix had been inconsistent with its decisions about shows starring alleged abusers. Netflix suspended work on Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards after he was accused of sexual misconduct in October 2017. Things hit a fever pitch when a Netflix executive inadvertently told one of Masterson’s accusers to her face that the network did not believe the allegations — the exec was not aware that she was one of the victims at the start of their conversation.
Netflix eventually changed course, terminating Masterson’s contract on The Ranch. Masterson was reportedly "very disappointed" about the decision and said in a statement: "Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused."
Mila Kunis lied about her age to get the job
Ukraine transplant Mila Kunis started landing TV gigs at the tender age of 13, appearing in guest stints on Days of Our Lives and Baywatch before landing a small recurring role on 7th Heaven. While those shows were comfortable working with minors, the producers of That ’70s Show weren’t quite so kid-friendly. Kunis told People that in order to nab the role of Jackie Burkhart on the show at age 14, she pretended to be a good bit older than she really was. "I told them I was going to be 18. But I didn’t tell them when I was going to be 18!" she said.
As fate would have it, her "first real kiss" took place in front of the cameras that year as she, in character, planted one on her real-life future husband, Ashton Kutcher, who played her character’s then-boyfriend, Michael Kelso. Kutcher was 23 at the time. If not for that so-called "little white non-truth," she might not have ended up making the Jackie-Kelso ship sail onto a romantic island of marriage and babies together. Well played, Mila.
Topher Grace was a bad kisser
Nowadays, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is something of a big screen powerhouse with flicks such as Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and Looper under his belt, but in the late ’90s, he was still just a former child star whose biggest claim to fame was playing an ancient alien on 3rd Rock from the Sun.
Shortly before his breakthrough role in 10 Things I Hate About You, Gordon-Levitt appeared in a Season 1 episode of That ’70s Show as Eric’s pal, Buddy Morgan. Buddy has a secret crush on his buddy and shares a kiss with him before Eric turns him down. That on-screen kiss is credited as being the first gay smooch on North American prime time TV, but audiences reportedly hated it. What would’ve been a potential recurring role was subsequently relegated to just one episode.
It didn’t hurt Gordon-Levitt’s career much, but filming the scenes did leave a nasty taste in his mouth, so to speak. He told The Advocate that Grace was "probably one of the worst kissers [he’s] ever kissed." Actress Laura Prepon, who plays Eric’s long-time love interest on the show, echoed the kiss diss when she said on a radio show (via TMZ) that her Orange is the New Black co-star, Taylor Schilling, gave better lip service than Grace.
Leo disappeared because Tommy Chong went to jail
One of the most memorable tertiary characters of That ’70s Show was Leo, the pothead grown-up who develops a friendship with the gang, most likely because of his marijuana connections. The character was played by Tommy Chong, who seemed to float effortlessly between his on-screen and off-screen personas.
After regular appearances in the show’s second, third, and fourth seasons, Leo disappears from the series. He becomes the subject of a Season 5 manhunt that produces only a good-bye note and eventually turns up near the end of Season 7. In his big comeback episode, Leo explains his absence as time spent "just wandering around, trying to find my place for a while" — as in actually looking for his own house because he was too baked to find it.
In real life, Chong disappeared because he was doing time. In 2003, he was sentenced to nine months in jail for selling pot pipes.
Laurie Foreman was recast due to devastating personal problems
Actress Lisa Robin Kelly portrayed Eric Foreman’s big sister Laurie for the show’s first five seasons, but her role was significantly lessened after Season 3. She didn’t appear at all in Season 4 and appeared only in a handful of episodes in Season 5. Due to off-screen struggles, she eventually decided to leave the show and was replaced by actress Christina Moore in Season 6. Kelly later explained her departure to ABC News. "I had lost a baby. As a result of that I lost it. I lost everything and I was abusing alcohol," she said. "With That ’70s Show I was guilty of a drinking problem, and I ran."
Although she claimed to have recovered from the troubles that sparked her departure from the show, she made headlines in 2010 for this DWI mugshot and again in 2012 for allegations of domestic abuse. Kelly died from a reported drug overdose in 2013 at age 43.
Kutcher and Kunis hated each other
Although they played on-again-off-again young lovers on That ’70s Show, and they’re now married with children in real life, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher didn’t care for each other as co-stars.
She told Glamour in 2016, "There’s nothing we don’t know about each other because we’ve known each other for so long: the ugly, the bad, the good. We went through a period where I thought he was crazy. At the height of his career, I was like, ‘Ugh, I don’t like you. I don’t even know you anymore. You think you’re such hot s**t.’" She added that even though they went through "full friendship breakups" over the years, they always reconciled in the end.
What ultimately brought them together? Kunis told Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show that she and Kutcher made a mutual decision to become bedroom buddies. Perhaps not coincidentally, both celebs had previously starred in movies where that exact arrangement failed to work out (her in Friends with Benefits and him in No Strings Attached), but in this case, life imitated art — and included a happy ending.
Did Topher Grace get too big for his bell bottoms?
While both Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher both announced that they would not return for the eighth and final season of That ’70s Show, Kutcher did come back for a couple of episodes to wrap up some plot threads. Grace only reappeared for the show’s finale, and while that doesn’t seem like a big deal, it’s notable when one takes into consideration Grace’s absence from other show-related events.
Grace has claimed there’s no bad blood between him and the rest of the cast, but he was not a part of the cast reunion on the set of The Ranch in 2016, and he did not attend Kunis and Kutcher’s wedding. (He said he was working on both occasions.) Grace was also the only major cast members who was never Punk’d by Kutcher. Grace did, however, participate in an informal, private cast reunion in 2013 — where the whole gang even sung their show’s theme song together — so maybe everything is swell now.
Tanya Roberts left because of her husband’s terminal illness
While the parents on most teen-oriented shows are completely inconsequential to the plot (We’re looking at you, Jim and Cindy Walsh from Beverly Hills, 90210), the writers of That ’70s Show adeptly used the show’s adults to add a streak of ’70s realism to the series.
Red and Kitty Foreman dealt with financial and employment instability, and Bob and Midge Pinciotti showed what married life looked like during the ’70s wave of feminism. Bob (Don Stark) didn’t like that Midge (Tanya Roberts) was too busy with her feminist club meetings to cook him dinner. Still, it was both surprising and abrupt when Mr. and Mrs. Pinciotti got a divorce and Bob started dating Jackie’s mom, Pam (portrayed by Brooke Shields.) It turns out, that storyline had little to do with plot arcs, and everything to do with Roberts needing to leave the show.
The former "Bond girl" and star of the real ’70s show Charlie’s Angels, revealed on an E! True Hollywood story that she left the show in 2001 because her husband, screenwriter Barry Roberts, was terminally ill. Roberts did return for a few episodes late in the show’s run. Her husband passed away, in June 2006.
Is infidelity a form of being Punk’d?
Before Ashton Kutcher married That ’70s Show co-star Mila Kunis and the couple had a couple kids, he was in another high-profile romance that kept the tabloids busy.
In 2003, Kutcher met big-time Hollywood movie star Demi Moore through friends, and immediately, the irises of their eyes turned into little hearts, despite a 16-year age difference. (The fact that they’re both gorgeous and successful will certainly overcome any such silly obstacles.) The pair married in 2005 (his first, her third), but all was not so rosy by 2011, when Kutcher allegedly marked their six-year anniversary with an extramarital affair. According to Us Weekly, Kutcher spent the weekend partying at the San Diego Hard Rock Hotel, which included a hot tub three-way with a couple of young women. Non-spoiler alert: Kutcher and Moore split up soon after and divorced in 2013.
Though Kutcher never confirmed the cheating chatter, Moore did issue a statement when they split that suggested she may have been betrayed: "As a woman, a mother and a wife there are certain values and vows that I hold sacred, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen to move forward with my life."
Mila Kunis was accused of stealing a chicken
Mila Kunis spent a large part of her childhood in the Ukraine and was reportedly close friends there with a girl named Kristina Karo. Like Kunis, Karo came to the United States seeking fame and fortune in the entertainment industry — music, specifically. However, Karo ultimately felt traumatized and unable to live up to her potential because she had to live in Los Angeles — a city that was also home to Kunis, the girl who was her friend until she stole her chicken. We can explain:
Karo alleged that Kunis stole her prized pet chicken, Doggie, while they were both living in the Ukraine. In 2015, Karo sued Kunis for $5,000 to cover therapy bills racked up over the emotional distress the alleged theft caused. Shortly after that news broke (which coincided with the release of Karo’s music video), Karo dropped the suit. "I’ve learned to forgive in my heart the people who have wronged me, like Mila," she said in a statement (via TMZ).
Wilmer Valderrama would like to tell you of his conquests
For a while, Wilmer Valderrama’s star didn’t shine as brightly as his former co-stars’ after That ’70s Show ended. He voiced the title character on the Disney Channel’s Handy Manny and spent years doing guest star roles before landing a great gig on the extremely popular NCIS. Perhaps his career slowdown had something to do with the notion that Fez seemed too busy trying to date seemingly every woman in Hollywood under the age of 24.
In March 2006, Valderrama was a guest on Howard Stern’s radio show (via the Daily Beast and ThoughtCo) and actually did what Stern always wants his guests to do: talk about sex. Valderrama spilled some very private details about the many famous women he claimed to have slept with. Among his revelations: Jennifer Love Hewitt is an "8" on a 1-10 scale of bedroom skills (with 10 being the best), singer Ashlee Simpson is a "screamer," Lindsay Lohan did not have cosmetically enhanced breasts, and the lovemaking he shared with Mandy Moore "was good, but it wasn’t like warm apple pie." And by the way, he claimed he took Moore’s virginity. (She later responded in Elle, calling his claim "utterly tacky, not even true, and it hurt my feelings because I like him.")
More recently, Valderrama dated Demi Lovato. They met in 2010, when she was 17 and he was pushing 30. "When I turned 18 we started dating," she said in the documentary Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated (via People).