The Instagram video, posted on September 9, begins abruptly. “We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson,” a rumpled, unshaven Ashton Kutcher says, sitting beside his wife, Mila Kunis. Two days earlier, their former That ’70s Show costar, who’d been convicted of raping two women, had been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison, despite their pleas for mercy, which were made public on September 8. “They were intended for the judge to read, um, and not to undermine the testimony of the victims or retraumatize them in any way. We would never want to do that,” Ashton, 45, intoned, before pausing briefly as Mila, 40, turned to look at him pointedly. “And we’re sorry if that has taken place.”

But it was too little, too late. Not only did critics so badly lambaste the pair for the “performative” and “emotionless” “non-apology” that Ashton turned off the comments, but more disturbing stories surfaced about the actor’s shady behavior in the past — from his inappropriate quips about underage women including Hilary Duff to his treatment of ex-wife, Demi Moore. “This is a nightmare for Ashton — he’s being dragged into Danny’s mess,” says a source. “Even though he hasn’t been convicted of any crime, he’s in danger of being canceled.”

Checkered Past

The same day he posted the apology, one of Danny’s rape accusers, Chrissie Carnell Bixler, shared some footage of her own on Instagram. In one clip, taken from a 2002 episode of The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Ashton revealed that before filming a romantic scene with Mila, who was then just 14, Danny bet him $20 to “use tongue,” he quipped. “And I’m thinking, ‘This is slightly illegal, right.’” In another resurfaced video, Mila sat squirming on his lap. And on a 2003 episode of his MTV show, Punk’d, Ashton described 15-year-old Hilary as “one of the girls we’re all waiting for to turn 18, along with the Olsen twins.” Those comments were “meant as jokes, but are obviously in poor taste and come off as creepy,” notes the source. “It’s so humiliating for him.”

Danny Masterson and Ashton Kutcher
John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT

His ex-wife’s horror stories are also being revisited. In her 2019 memoir, Inside Out, Demi accused Ashton of cheating on her — at Danny’s bachelor party! — pushing her to participate in threesomes and encouraging her to break her sobriety. Aside from telling Esquire he was “f–king pissed” about the attention brought by the book, Ashton has refused to address her claims. “I don’t want to open anything up in that realm.”

He did open up about Danny. Before the conviction, Ashton expressed conflicted thoughts about his old friend, admitting they are still in touch and that he hoped Danny, 47, was innocent, while also reiterating his support for anyone who’d been “violated in any way.” In his appeal to the judge, Ashton acknowledged the gravity of the crimes and that the victims had “a great desire for justice,” but he stated he didn’t think Danny presented “ongoing harm for society.”

Switching Gears

Ashton’s motivations were pure, insists the source. “While the crimes are inexcusable, Ashton has great sympathy for Danny’s wife and child, who are really struggling without him,” the source says of Bijou Phillips and their daughter, Fianna, 9. “What they’re going through is far worse than any bad press that Ashton is catching. He’s just hoping it all dies down.”

Ashton and Mila are also shutting up. “People can judge them,” says the insider, “but they believe their hearts were in the right place.”

Have a tip? Send it to us! Email In Touch at