Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and other friends, family members and “That ’70s Show” castmates sent heartfelt letters seeking leniency for Danny Masterson, describing him as a strictly drug-free devoted family man – though the judge wound up giving him the maximum sentence of 30 years to life anyway.
Masterson was convicted in May on two counts of forcible rape for separate assaults alleged by two women around 2013. A first trial late last year resulted in a hung jury, but prosecutors re-tried the case and were more prepared to support the victims’ claims that they had been drugged prior to being attacked this time around.
Notably, the letters to Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo, from former castmates, professional collaborators and wife Bijou Phillips repeatedly highlight Masterson’s drug-free lifestyle – Kutcher even credits his friend for keeping drugs out of the question as the group of young actors rose to fame together.
Kutcher and Kunis, who are married, wrote separate letters, “That ’70s Show” co-stars Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp did also. The actor Giovanni Ribisi, two of Masterson’s brothers and Jim Patterson, writer and creator of “The Ranch,” also wrote letters of support. Absent from the authors were Materson’s “That ’70s Show” castmates Topher Grace, Wilmer Valderrrama and Laura Prepon.
The letters were part of a defense memorandum sent to the judge prior to sentencing, and each acknowledged directly his convictions. Olmedo acknowledged the letters, but sentenced Masterson to consecutively serve maximum 15-year sentences anyway.
Below is a sampling of the letters, which were obtained by TheWrap:
Ashton Kutcher, actor ‘That ’70s Show’
Honorable Judge Olmedo,
My name is Ashton Kutcher I am an actor, investor, philanthropist, and most importantly a father.
I met Danny Masterson when I was 20 years old in 1998. He instantly became a friend, dedicated co worker, and role model to me. And has remained as such for 25 years.
As a friend, Danny has been nothing but a positive influence on me. He’s an extraordinarily honest and intentional human being. Over 25 year relationship I don’t ever recall him lying to me. He’s taught me about being direct and confronting issues in life and relationships head-on, resolving them, and moving forward. Danny is a person that is consistently there for you when you need him. We’ve traveled around the world together, raised our daughters together, and shared countless family moments. Not only is he a good friend to me I’ve witnessed him be a good friend to others and the kind of brother others would be lucky to have.
As a role model, Danny has consistently been an excellent one. I attribute not falling into the typical Hollywood life of drugs directly to Danny. Any time that we were to meet someone or interact with someone who was on drugs, or did drugs, he made it clear that that wouldn’t be a good person to be friends with. And for me, that was an implication that if I were to do drugs, he wouldn’t want to be friends with me, which is something I never would want to risk or jeopardize. I am grateful to him for that positive peer pressure. He also set an extraordinary standard around how you treat other people. There was an incident where we were at a pizza parlor and a belligerent man entered who is berating his girlfriend. We had never met or seen these people before, but Danny was the first person to jump to the defense of this girl. It was an incident he didn’t have to get involved in but proactively chose to because the way this man was behaving was not right. He has always treated people with decency, equality, and generosity.
After 9-11 Danny was a huge advocate for support of the Firefighters effected by the event, rallying his friends and coworkers to pitch in however they could. Danny had his daughter a year before I had mine. He set a standard of being a hands on dad. We have spent countlesshours together with our kids and he is among few people that I would trust to be alone with my son and daughter. He’s also a dedicated and loyal husband with unwavering commitment to his wife.
We have spent hundreds of hours working together. Danny takes his job seriously. He is kind, courteous, and hard working. He treated everyone from the grips to the teamsters to the actors to the caterers as equals. He showed up on time all the time and always pulled his weight. We have also traveled around the world together promoting our work. I can honestly say that no matter where we were, or who we were with, I never saw my friend be anything other than the guy I have described.While I’m aware that the judgement has been cast as guilty on two counts of rape by force and the victims have a great desire for justice. I hope that my testament to his character is taken intoconsideration in sentencing. I do not believe he is an ongoing harm to society and having his daughter raised without a present father would a tertiary injustice in and of itself. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Best, Ashton Kutcher
Mila Kunis, actor ‘That ‘70s Show’
To The Honorable Judge Olmedo,
I am writing this character letter on behalf of my dear friend, Danny Masterson, with whom I have had the privilege of sharing a significant part of my life. My name is Mila Kunis, and I am an actress, and I believe it is essential to share the remarkable influence Danny has had on my life and the lives of others.
I first met Danny during our time working together on That 70’s Show, and from the very beginning, I could sense his innate goodness and genuine nature. Throughout our time together, Danny has proven to be an amazing friend, confidant, and, above all, an outstanding older brother figure to me. His caring nature and ability to offer guidance have been instrumental in my growth both personally and professionally.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Danny’s character is his unwavering commitment to discouraging the use of drugs. His influence on me in this regard has been invaluable. In an industry where the pressures and temptations of substance use can be overwhelming, Danny played a pivotal role in guiding me away from such destructive paths. His dedication to avoiding all substances has inspired not only me but also countless others in our circle. Danny’s steadfastness in promoting a drug-free lifestyle has been a guiding light in my journey through the entertainment world and has helped me prioritize my well-being and focus on making responsible choices. His genuine concern for those around him and his commitment to leading by example make him an outstanding role model and friend.
Danny’s role as a husband and father to his daughter has been nothing short of extraordinary. Witnessing his interactions with his daughter has been heartwarming and enlightening. He prioritizes his family, education, and happiness above all else, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to being a loving and responsible parent. As a father, he leads by example, instilling in her values that reflect integrity, compassion, and respect for others.
Moreover, Danny has consistently displayed a profound sense of responsibility and care for those around him. He demonstrates grace and empathy in every situation, be it within the entertainment industry or in our personal lives. His steady support and understanding presence make him a reliable source of guidance and comfort for all of us.
Danny Masterson’s warmth, humor, and positive outlook on life have been a driving force in shaping my character and the way I approach life’s challenges. His unwavering commitment to being an exceptional older brother figure to me has had a transformative impact on my life, instilling in me a sense of self-belief and encouraging me to aim for greatness, but all while maintaining a sense of humility.
In conclusion, I wholeheartedly vouch for Danny Masterson’s exceptional character and the tremendous positive influence he has had on me and the people around him. His dedication to leading a drug-free life and the genuine care he extends to others make him an outstanding role model and friend.
Please feel free to reach out if you require any further information or clarification.
Debra Jo Rupp, actor ‘That ’70s Show’
Dear Judge Olmedo,
My name is Debra, I am 72 years old, and I live in the mountains In Western Massachusetts. I am writing this letter on behalf of Danny Masterson.
I have known Danny and his family since 1998 when I began working with him on “That 70’s Show”. I am aware that Danny is convicted of 2 counts of forceable rape and, though it is so hard for me to wrap my head around this, I respect the law and the court. I always have.
But I would like to tell you about the young man I know. Danny was the leader of the “kids” on our show. He had the most acting experience and was a little bit older. He was well liked and very respected. One of the first things Danny did with them was to sit them all down (he had a little meeting) and had them al make a pact that no one would do drugs because of the nature of our show. The spotlight would be on them and he wanted everyone to succeed. I remember thinking that it was such a smart thing to do and something I never would have thought of. As a result, you never saw them in the tabloids. Danny made sure of that and I was so appreciative. They all kept their word.
Danny was always respectful and kind. On show days when the camera crew would come in, Danny was the one that shook each camera man’s hand before we started. He knew everyone’s name, where they lived and about their families. I did not. He was loved. Over the years Danny is one of the few that came to support me by seeing my shows in the theater. He brought his family sometimes. And it was a joy. And so appreciated. One night we went to dinner, he had dragged another cast member, his father and some friends to see me, and it was dark and late after theater. I had to get home in New York City so Danny called an Uber, paid for it and escorted me out. There are so many instances of things like this. He was just like that. Respectful and kind. Wilmer Valderama asked the cast of 70’s Show to go to his high school graduation. Danny and I were the only ones to go. I remember looking at him and dying. It was outside, in the valley, really hot, and he was a “V” alphabetically. We laughed so hard during that. It’s a really nice memory. Danny just always showed up to support. I knew Danny’s family through work. I had worked with his brother Chris on another show and always saw his family hanging out in his dressing room. Danny’s dressing room was above mine and Danny loved music. Many times I found myself going upstairs to ask him to turn it down and was always greeted with an apology, a grin and an instant fix. It’s these little things that come to mind when I think of Danny. I later did his show ”The Ranch”, he called me at home in Massachusetts. I hadn’t done tv in awhile, and he offered it to me. I was so grateful and touched. I loved hearing him play with his daughter in the hallways – it was an awesome giggle.
So thank you for allowing me to-tell you about the Danny Masterson that I love I just read this letter back. It’s so hard for me to express o paper but I understand that he is facing a lengthy sentence and I really wanted to tell you about these moments. He would take the time to do it for me. Sincerely,
Debra Jo Rupp
Kurtwood Smith, actor ‘That ’70s Show’
Dear Judge Olmedo:
My name is Kurtwood Smith. I have been a professional actor for 57 years, the last 43 years working primarily in film and television. It is as an actor that I came to know Danny Masterson.
I should mention that I am aware that Danny has been convicted of two counts of forcible rape and is awaiting sentencing. I have known Danny since the spring of 1998, when we began filming the television show That 70s Show. We worked on the show for eight years and I consider Danny to be a good friend. Our friendship revolved around work. Primarily because of our age difference we didn’t socialize much outside of work but I saw hi every day on the job whether we had scenes together or not.
I believe Danny to be a wonderful actor. When working together I always found him to be prepared, inventive, and responsive to suggestions from the director, myself, and other actors. Danny was also very enjoyable to be around. He has a quick wit and a good sense of humor. I always looked forward to working on scenes with Danny. I should mention that he was extremely popular with the crew. He was usually the first actor to learn every crew member’s name, what their job was, and how it related to his job. Danny was the leader among his contemporaries in the cast. He was a tad older and much more experienced and he took that position seriously.
During the eight years we did the show. we never had the problems some other shows had with their younger cast members. After the show ended in 2006 I didn’t see much of Danny, except for occasional events, until almost 10 years later, when I began playing a recurring character on The Ranch. Danny was one of the stars of the show. I was happy to be working with him again. It was also great to see his family. If you know Danny, you know his family.
I have known his parents and younger brothers and sister since we started work on That 70s Show. They are a very close knit family; they seem to care very much for each other and work to help one another succeed.
Danny was now married and the father of a beautiful little girl. It was a treat to spend some time with him at work and to be around him and his family. I had met his wife while we were still shooting That 70s Show, although they were not married at the time.
I found that Danny treated all women on the show with respect, not only the women in the cast, but women on the crew as well. It was my observation that he treated the woman he married in a respectful and loving way. Later, when we were working on The Ranch. I was aware that, not only were they a happy couple, but he was a wonderful father to his daughter.
I had the opportunity to watch Danny with his daughter. At the time she was maybe two or three years old. It was so clear how much he loved her and how delighted he was with her. He was so patient and easygoing with her. At one point, when she became fussy, he joked with her and made faces and she calmed down and was laughing. She clearly loved her daddy.
I consider Danny a talented, hardworking, giving actor. I have viewed him being respectful and considerate to those he has worked with. He has been a leader and positive force among his peers. He has seemed loving and caring, not only towards his wife and daughter, but his family at large.
For all the reasons I have mentioned I consider myself fortunate to have had Danny Masterson in my life.
Sincerely yours,Kurtwood Smith
Kelly Hartog contributed to this article.