Mila Kunis is well aware that she’s #blessed.
And not just in the cliche Instagram caption type of way some women throw around when their significant others think to bring home flowers or whip something up for dinner. No, her good fortune is that some seven years into being with Ashton Kutcher she’s never once had to grumble about his less-than-spectacular behavior.
“My husband does not annoy me,” she told E! News in an interview with her Bad Moms Christmas costars in 2017. “He really doesn’t. I don’t know if this happens later, we’ve only been married a handful of years.” For now, she noted, “It’s very much in the honeymoon phase of things. We still really love and like each other daily.”
In actuality, it’s unlikely that their bliss is related to the newness of their marriage. Because while it’s true they’re only just celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary today, their love story is some two decades in.
Their first few chapters were admittedly rocky. While playing somewhat hapless lovers Jackie Burkhart and Michael Kelso on That ’70s Show in the late ’90s, 14-year-old Kunis could not have been less interested in her 19-year-old costar. And she certainly never dreamed her real life first kiss with “the Calvin Klein model” was actually her first with her future husband. But several years down the road, after keeping in sporadic touch thanks to AOL Instant Messenger, there was a surprise plot twist.
More than six years and one failed friends-with-benefits pact later Kunis, 35, is thankful for the curveball. “I have the world’s greatest husband,” The Spy Who Dumped Me actress also gushed of the 41-year-old actor and venture capitalist to E! News last year. “I swear, I got very lucky, man.”
At this point, it’s almost hard to argue that some other force didn’t intervene to bring them together. Particularly when you consider it took a few tries. When Ukraine native and child actress Kunis was paired off with first time actor Kutcher on That ’70s Show (the former frat boy said he landed the Fox sitcom in his first week of L.A. auditions), there weren’t sparks.
Not even a dim flicker.
The only chemistry between them, Kunis noted during a 2016 appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, was the science homework the onetime University of Iowa biochemical engineering student did for her: “He was so not the guy that I was like, ‘You’re so hot.'”
Kutcher disagrees, claiming he found an old diary of hers where she dedicated entries to describing his good looks. He was the one that wasn’t interested in the young teen, he said on The Howard Stern Show in 2017. “I think I was her first kiss, like, on the show,” he recalled. “It was really weird. I was like, ‘Isn’t this illegal?’ It was really awkward. She was 14! She was like my little sister.”
But regardless of who was or wasn’t attracted, both agree that they weren’t destined for puppy love.
“I think we had to both go through a lot in our lives to be the become the people that we were,” Kunis explained during her 2016 interview on Stern’s radio show. “We would never be together based on the people that we used to be.”
So they settled into other romances—she embarked on a eight-year relationship with Macaulay Culkin, he dated around, courting January Jones, Ashley Scott and Brittany Murphy before marrying Demi Moore and becoming a stepfather to her three daughters in 2005.
They kept in touch throughout their twenties, Kunis told Corden, using instant messenger of all things—”We would always be like, ‘Hey, how’s it going? How’s life?'”—but that was it.
Until 2012. That’s when Kunis found herself single right around the time Kutcher’s divorce landed him in the middle of a Montana mountain range contemplating life.
“I did no food, no drink—just water and tea,” he shared with former Punk’d partner Dax Shepard on his Armchair Expert podcast in February 2018. And no technology, whatsoever. “I took all my computers away, my phone, my everything. I was there by myself, so there was no talking. I just had a notepad, a pen and water and tea—for a week,” he continued.
Alone with his thoughts, he reflected back on his series of failed unions. “I wrote down every single relationship that I had where I felt like there was some grudge or some anything, regret, anything,” Kutcher explained. “And I wrote letters to every single person, and on day seven, I typed them all out and then sent them. I hand wrote them all and then typed them out and sent them.”
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
“He was coming off of a divorce—post, post, post way post divorce,” Kunis said on Armchair Expert last July. “But I think there was a lot of misconceptions about the divorce. And because he’s very private and respectful he wasn’t going to go and say anything. So, he kind of just let rumors be rumors. And so people believed rumors….He ate it. So people had a weird perception of who he was based on rumors that he didn’t correct.”
So you could say Kutcher was primed for a fresh start.
If his life were a movie, this is when he’d have a meet-cute with an alluring stranger in an elevator. Instead he ended up standing in front of Kunis at a 2012 awards show.
What she noticed first, she said, was the 6-foot-2 charmer’s height. But when he turned, two important thoughts registered: The tall guy was her old pal Kutcher and for some reason, he was making her stomach flip.
She described it to Corden as “that moment that you hear or see in movies where, like, your heart skips a beat and it happened with Ashton. And I was like, ‘Stop it.’ Like, I was like, ‘No.’ It was the weirdest thing. I was like, this isn’t happening.”
Courtesy of Los Angeles Dodgers
Except it was. And he, too, was suddenly able to tell that his former costar—who’s topped many a male magazine’s list of sexiest women alive—was really, really good looking.
So he did what any guy would do in that situation, and invited her over…in the hopes that she would hit it off with his close pal.
“I found out later in life that my husband was trying to set me up on a blind date with one of his best friends that night,” Kunis relayed to Corden. “So he was like, ‘Come over,’ and he had, like, a friend that he wanted to set me up with.”
Not only did that connection not happen (obviously), she says, but that pal would go on to date someone Kutcher had once squired. As Kunis summed up, “It’s all meant to be.”
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach
Because what happened instead was that the duo spent most of the night by each other’s sides, in part, perhaps, because they both knew where things were going, but also because Kunis was really craving some secondhand smoke. “I was still a smoker, and she had quit smoking,” Kutcher explained to Stern. “She wanted me to, like, shotgun cigarette smoke into her mouth so she could breathe it in.”
While not the most romantic of scenarios, their mouths grew closer and closer with each transaction, Kutcher noted and soon they were making out and it just made sense that she spend the night.
“It was pretty mutual,” said Kutcher. “It was kind of obvious that things were happening.”
Kunis ended up staying until the next day, fighting the urge to call an Uber in the middle of the night. “The first time I ever slept over while I was single,” she told Stern.
Despite the sign that might mean they were destined for something more than just a casual fling, both of them were gun-shy about jumping into another lengthy, potentially complicated relationship. As she told Stern, “We started dating with the idea that we both were never going to get married.”
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach
Or, ideally, develop any sort of romantic connection.
So they borrowed a concept straight from the shared plot of their perspective movies. Both Kunis (who paired off with Justin Timberlake in 2011’s Friends With Benefits) and Kutcher (he and Natalie Portman teamed up for No Strings Attached that same year) thought they could manage a feelings-free fling.
“If we just paid attention to these movies, we should know that s–t like this does not work out in real life,” Kunis admitted to Stern. “Well, we clearly didn’t pay attention.”
Instead they, perhaps naively, felt they would be the ones to beat the odds and stick to their pact.
“We did exactly as those movies foretold,” Kunis described to Corden. “Like, we literally shook hands, we’re like, ‘We’re going to have fun because we’re both single and young.'”
That arrangement lasted for all of 12 weeks until, they both realized their arrangement actually wasn’t that fun because they were petrified of losing the other person. And maybe that meant they should consider becoming exclusive?
Or as Kunis succinctly put it, “Three months later we’re living together. Six months later we’re, like, married and have a kid. Like, literally, we clearly did not watch the end of either one of our movies.”
Their plotline saw them welcoming daughter Wyatt in October 2014 and quietly marrying on a ranch some 90 minutes outside of L.A. on July 4, 2015. “I was, like, posting things on social media that were in different locations,” Kutcher told Ellen DeGeneres of doing what he could to throw off paparazzi and their accompanying helicopters, “because we didn’t want to be screaming our vows at each other and be like, ‘Forever! Did you say never?’ We didn’t want to do that thing, so we went really under the radar with it.”
The twosome added son Dimitri 17 months later and settled into a routine of outings to Dodgers game, Bachelor date nights at their family friendly Beverly Hills enclave and annual weekends at Stagecoach. (The successful duo also own a $10 million beach house near Santa Barbara on the California coast.)
“We like to turn on their one-on-one dates when they’re sitting down and nobody eats and they talk to each other,” Kutcher dished to Stern. “We shut the sound off, and we imitate what the conversation probably is. It’s like, ‘Are you going to eat the chicken? No.’ Because you know those conversations are not wonderful.”
Their journey to find love wasn’t the most dramatic ever. (And we’ll go ahead and assume Kutcher’s 2014 proposal didn’t involve handing over a final rose.) But to hear them both tell it, life together is a never-ending fantasy suite.
“It truly is being married to your best friend,” she told Glamour in 2016. “That’s a cliché; it’s cheesy. But it’s true.”
As for Kutcher, he still marvels at the fact that he gets to sleep with her, saying, “I prize her as the most valuable person in the world to me.”
“I will say he makes me laugh every day,” Kunis told Australia’s Daily Telegraph. “Sixty years from now, when we’re in our rocking chairs and I’m wearing a muumuu, I hope he’s still around and I’m still giggling, because the greatest gift you can give is making each other laugh.”
Last month they even had fun acting out a bogus split report Kunis had pulled up on her phone.
“Babe, what’s happening?” a confused Kutcher asked. “It’s over between us,” Kunis said with a bemused smile, explaining, “I felt suffocated.”
“You felt suffocated by me?” her husband replied. “Oh, I was just so overbearing, wasn’t I?” “Also,” Kunis informed him, “I took the kids.”
“You took the kids?! I don’t get the kids anymore?!”
As always, they can turn anything into a good time, so long as they’re together.
(Originally published July 4, 2018, at 3:00 a.m. PT)