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How Ashton Kutcher's Rare Condition May Have Caused That Awkward Red Carpet Moment With Reese Witherspoon

Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock; @reesewitherspoon / Instagram
Awkward photos of Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher

Whether Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon's new Netflix romantic comedy "Your Place Or Mine" is a success or not, the film is unlikely to ever be forgotten for one reason alone — Kutcher and Witherspoon's deeply awkward red carpet appearance at the film's premiere. 

Kutcher, 45, and Witherspoon, 46, seemed stiff and appeared to be painstakingly avoiding contact, sparking speculation that the two dislike each other.

And before long, photos and videos from the event were the subjects of innumerable wisecracks and memes all over the internet.

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Even Kutcher's wife, actress Mila Kunis, 39, noticed — and roasted her husband and longtime friend Witherspoon for their awkward moment.

But in recent comments, Kutcher says there's a far simpler explanation for he and Witherspoon's viral red carpet mishap.

Ashton Kutcher said his 2019 battle with the rare autoimmune disease vasculitis made red carpets a challenge.

Vasculitis is a rare but dangerous autoimmune condition in which the body's immune system attacks and inflames the blood vessels.

It can result in all sorts of life-threatening effects, including organ damage and blood clots.

In Kutcher's case, vasculitis led to hearing loss, blindness, cognitive impairment, and the inability to walk.

In a December 2022 interview with his doctor, Dr. David Agus of the Paramount+ series "The Checkup With Dr. David Agus," Kutcher described his terrifying vasculitis experience.

"I woke up one day and was having vision issues, could hardly see," he said. "Knocked out my hearing, which threw off my equilibrium, my balance and I couldn't walk."

The ailment affected Kutcher's cognitive abilities as well, so much so that Kunis once told Agus her husband was "not saying things that make sense."

Kutcher said the disease brought him "face to face with death," and he very nearly did not survive.

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Ashton Kutcher revealed the 'Your Place Or Mine' red carpet was so awkward because he is still hearing impaired.

Kutcher is certainly no stranger to the chaos of paparazzi and red carpets, especially after his high-profile marriage to Demi Moore from 2005 to 2013.

But during a recent appearance on the podcast "Chicks In The Office," Kutcher told hosts Maria Ciuffo and Francesca Mariano that his hearing impairment now makes red carpets disorienting.


"I can't hear very well, I'm hard of hearing in one ear and I can only hear in the other," he explained. "I don't know who's yelling my name but I know there's a lot of people yelling, 'Reese! Ashton! Over here! Look this way!'"

"And at a certain point you're like, God this is really something. Look at the camera? Got it. Are we done? Awesome."

He went on to say his rush to get through the red carpet as quickly as possible has been misinterpreted as Kutcher and Witherspoon disliking each other. 

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Ashton Kutcher also said he was worried about looking like he was cheating on Mila Kunis with Reese Witherspoon.

It wasn't only his hearing difficulties on Kutcher's mind — he was also concerned about how his body language with Witherspoon might be interpreted. 

"Here’s the thing," he told Ciuffo and Mariano, "if I put my arm around her, and was like all friendly with her... like, the rumor would be that I’m having an affair with her."

And in the end, it presented a no-win situation.

"If I stand next to her and put my hands in my pockets so there’s no chance that that could be the rumor," he went on to say, "then the rumor is we don’t like each other."

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Still, fans are joking that Kutcher and Witherspoon could use some chemistry tutoring from fellow icons like Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac.

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac's palpable chemistry all but broke the internet during their press tour for "Scenes From A Marriage" in 2021.

Others have suggested romcom legends Julia Roberts and George Clooney could teach Kutcher and Witherspoon a thing or two after the blockbuster success of "Ticket to Paradise" last year.

Still, Ashton and Witherspoon say they've been friends for years, and "Your Place Or Mine" has the kind of romcom pedigree that is sure to be a success.

The film is written and directed by Aline Brosh McKenna, the mind behind "The Devil Wears Prada," "27 Dresses" and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," and with a cast that also includes Steve Zahn, Tig Notaro, Jesse Williams and Rachel Bloom, "Your Place Or Mine" is sure to be a success when it drops on Netflix February 10, just in time for Valentine's Day.

Either way, Kutcher says he had a great time making the film with Witherspoon, and after all he's been through in recent years, that's a hit in and of itself.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.