The Ashton Kutcher Curse No One Seems To Notice

"The curse of Ashton Kutcher" sounds like a follow-up to his hit MTV prank show Punk'd, but in reality, this bizarre phenomenon is no laughing matter, especially not for its victims. Over the course of his career, Kutcher has starred alongside a number of actors and actresses who have fell off the Hollywood radar not long after working with him—and those were the lucky ones. A few of Kutcher's former co-stars even passed away after collaborating with him, giving rise to the theory that working with Ashton Kutcher is like signing a career death warrant, if not a literal one.

Seann William Scott (Dude, Where's My Car?)

Dude, Where's My Car? performed well at the box office but was panned by critics, something that Seann William Scott would soon become accustomed to. While Kutcher went on to get shots at serious roles in films like The Butterfly Effect and eventually established himself as a leading rom-com actor, Scott went from one doomed project to the next, with Evolution and Bulletproof Monk both failing to recoup even half of their multi-million dollar budgets.

Scott recently tried to move away from playing the perennial clown in black comedy drama Just Before I Go, though his attempt at something a little more serious was met with critical scorn and audience indifference. The film (directed by former Friends star Courteney Cox) was labeled a Garden State ripoff in which filthy jokes gradually cede ground to sentimental slush, an opinion echoed by several Rotten Tomatoes critics. The go-to film review aggregator currently lists Just Before I Go as having a 10 percent approval rating.

When Dude, Where's My Car? hit cinemas in 2000, Kutcher's co-star Seann William Scott was one of the most sought-after names in comedy, fresh off the back of a Teen Choice Award for his performance as Steve Stifler in American Pie. Despite that film's critical and commercial success, Scott's popularity didn't seem to last long, taking a sharp nosedive in the aftermath of his collaboration with Kutcher.

Rachael Leigh Cook (Texas Rangers)

If you grew up in the '90s and you're male, chances are you had a massive crush on Rachael Leigh Cook at one time or another. The actress became a staple in the decade of teen movies with memorable appearances in The Baby-Sitters Club, All I Wanna Do and She's All That, though her career took a turn for the worse as the new millennium dawned...and she accepted a role opposite Ashton Kutcher.

In 2001, Cook appeared as Caroline Dukes in Texas Rangers, an extremely loose adaptation of George Durham's book Taming the Nueces Strip. Historical inaccuracies weren't the only thing that plagued this Kutcher film, which only managed a staggering 2 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and made just $623,000 from a budget of $38 million. It marked the beginning of the end for Cook as a potential A-lister, and by the mid-point of the decade she was specializing in straight-to-DVD flicks.

Brittany Murphy (Just Married)

Brittany Murphy was another actress who broke into the mainstream during the decade of the teen movie, coming to the attention of audiences everywhere with her portrayal of airhead Tai Frasier in 1995's Clueless. Her first real taste of box office success came through a lead role in Eminem's semi-autobiographical drama 8 Mile some seven years later, though it all came undone when she starred alongside Ashton Kutcher in Just Married the following year, with veteren film critic Roger Ebert questioning how Murphy could go from her performance in 8 Mile to this "ungainly and witless comedy."

The pair were nominated in the Worst Screen Couple category at the 2004 Golden Raspberry Awards, with Murphy herself getting a nod with a nominee for Worst Supporting Actress. A string of critically abused misfires followed, the lowest points being Uptown Girls and Neverwas, which both scored an embarrassing 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The Atlanta-born actress went on to play emperor penguin Gloria in George Miller's 2006 animated smash Happy Feet, though a possible future in voice acting was cut short when she died tragically at the age of 32 through a combination of pneumonia and anaemia.

Tara Reid (My Boss's Daughter)

Tara Reid cut her teeth in the world of TV commercials, appearing in campaigns for McDonalds, Jell-O and Crayola before landing a role on Saved by the Bell: The New Class. She made the transition from TV to film in 1997 and, after a brief but memorable appearance in The Big Lebowski, shot to stardom playing buxom blonde Vicky in 1999's American Pie.

Even if her reputation with film critics was far from glowing, Reid's mainstream popularity remained a constant in the early part of the '00s, reprising her role in the first American Pie sequel and appearing in National Lampoon's Van Wilder. The point that marked her descent into Syfy channel territory was her collaboration with Ashton Kutcher in 2003's My Boss's Daughter.

The film was added to what would eventually become a long list of formulaic Kutcher-led rom-coms, and Reid became the second American Pie star to suffer from the curse, immediately landing roles in The Crow: Wicked Prayer (a rare zero percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and Alone in the Dark (which did one better at one percent).

Amy Smart (The Butterfly Effect)

2004 was supposed to be a breakout year for Amy Smart, an actress who had slowly been edging her way towards recognition with her work in road comedies Road Trip, Rat Race and Interstate 60. Her first outing in '04 was alongside dynamic duo Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in the moderately successful reboot of Starsky and Hutch, but her second release of the year would be her last of any note for some time.

Despite critics and viewers being at odds over the film, The Butterfly Effect became one of the most talked about movies of the year, yet while her co-star Ashton Kutcher went on to benefit from the film's hype, Smart seemed to shy away from it. The former model churned out poor film after poor film over the decade that followed, with her recent starring role in Tyler Perry's critically trashed The Single Mom's Club highlighting how far away from the A-list she's landed.

Bernie Mac (Guess Who)

Bernie Mac died of complications related to pneumonia in August 2008, though he first announced he was suffering from sarcoidosis (a disease of unknown origin that frequently attacked the actor's lungs) three years previously—the same year he played impossible father-in-law Percy to Ashton Kutcher's Simon in Guess Who.

Even with his health becoming a cause for concern, the stand-up star still managed to pull off high-profile parts, appearing in big-budget summer blockbusters Transformers and Ocean's Thirteen in 2007. By the following summer his condition had deteriorated considerably and, after a week of unsuccessful treatment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Mac went into cardiac arrest and sadly passed away at the age of 50. Kutcher was one of many former colleagues to show up at Mac's funeral, a huge public event that was attended by as many as 7,000 mourners.

Amanda Peet (A Lot Like Love)

2005's A Lot Like Love paired Kutcher with Amanda Peet, whose name became known to the moviegoing masses five years earlier when she appeared alongside Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry in The Whole Nine Yards. Critical success followed with Igby Goes Down, Changing Lanes and ambitious geopolitical thriller Syriana all becoming Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, though Peet's popularity suddenly plummeted at the mid-point of the decade.

A Lot Like Love put a serious dent in her reputation and five years of truly forgettable films followed, including (but not limited to) the lazy X-Files sequel I Want to Believe. However, unlike most female leads who dare to star opposite Kutcher in a rom-com, Peet managed to survive the fallout and seems to have found a niche playing supporting parts in poignant comedies such as the 2013 indie hit The Way Way Back and 2015's Sleeping With Other People.

Lindsay Lohan (Bobby)

Before she was cast as Diane in the Emilio Estevez thriller Bobby, Lindsay Lohan actually had a pretty impressive track record with the critics, starring in the widely acclaimed Disney flick The Parent Trap as a child in 1998, continuing that form in 2003 with a remake of Freaky Friday and establishing herself as a young woman with 2004's Mean Girls, a role that seemed to put the world at the redhead's feet.

Her part in 2006's Bobby wasn't huge, and neither was Ashton Kutcher's for that matter, but they rubbed shoulders on set regardless, and the former experienced a dramatic turn in her personal and professional fortunes in the years that followed. In 2007 she was involved in two DUI incidents, and subsequent visits to rehab as well as short stints behind bars has severely limited her career options.

Kevin Costner (The Guardian)

Kevin Costner is an undeniably talented actor with a notoriously mixed record when it comes to critical success, something that has largely evaded him since the golden period in the late '80s and early '90s when he forced his way onto the A-list with his portrayal of Elliot Ness in The Untouchables and directed/starred in multiple Academy Award winner Dances With Wolves.

In recent years, Costner's career has seen many ups and downs, though his biggest slump arguably came after he appeared in 2006's The Guardian as a decorated member of the Coast Guard tasked with showing a young upstart (Kutcher) the ropes. It's a film packed with every worn-out cinematic cliché you can think of, and it started Costner off on a losing streak he's still struggling to turn around—as evidenced by the reviews of his latest ill-fated effort, 2016's Criminal.

Cameron Diaz (What Happens In Vegas)

This might surprise you, but Cameron Diaz actually has an astonishing eight Certified Fresh movies to her name. She arrived with a bang in 1994's The Mask, made a name for herself with the 1998 Farrelly Brothers romp There's Something About Mary, and even worked with Martin Scorsese in 2003's Gangs of New York. So when did Diaz start churning out tame comedy after tame comedy? The turnaround in her fortunes can be pinpointed to 2008, and the release of What Happens In Vegas.

Both Diaz and co-star Kutcher were said to be highly unlikable in their roles by numerous critics, and the former has struggled to regain her form since. Just to highlight the extent of her downturn, 12 of the 14 films Diaz has released over that timespan have an approval rating of less than 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with her last two efforts (Sex Tape and Gambit) both sitting on a measly 17 percent.

Michelle Pfeiffer (Personal Effects)

The evergreen Michelle Pfeiffer was going through something of a purple patch when she crossed paths with younger man Ashton Kutcher in 2009's Personal Effects, a romantic drama written, directed and produced by David Hollander. Unsurprisingly, Hollander hasn't directed a feature film since (the Kutcher curse extending beyond actors on this occasion), whereas Pfeiffer herself has gone from one high profile misfire to the next.

The thrice Oscar-nominated actress went straight from Personal Effects into New Year's Eve, the second in a series of holiday-themed romantic ensembles from Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall, all of which have drawn nothing but scorn from critics. Tim Burton flop Dark Shadows and poorly received mafia comedy The Family did little to steady the ship for Pfeiffer, though she'll be hoping to right the wrongs of recent years alongside Jennifer Lawrence in an upcoming, as-yet untitled Darren Aronofsky project due for release in 2017.

Jessica Alba (Valentine's Day)

Before New Year's Eve comes Valentine's Day—not only in the calendar year but also on Garry Marshall's résumé. This 2010 rom-com attempted to duplicate the success of critically acclaimed 2007 anthology film Paris, je t'aime, though in place of European charm it overloaded on famous faces, relying on star power over substance. One such star was Ashton Kutcher. His character Reed proposes to girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba), who agrees but then changes her mind and disappears. You can't really blame the girl, given the fate of Kutcher's past screen partners.

2010 saw Alba take part in Robert Rodriguez's critically and commercially successful B-movie homage Machete, though any good she did that year was most definitely undone in Valentine's Day, and things went downhill from there. Her 2011 indie comedy An Invisible Sign was unanimously dismissed by critics, the first of many Alba films to provoke the wrath of the reviewers in her doomed post-Kutcher period.

Katherine Heigl (Killers)

Katherine Heigl is something of a female Ashton Kutcher, the go-to name when you need someone for a bog-standard rom-com. The pair were brought together in 2010 for Killers, and despite the project sitting well within their comfort zones, the two actors showed surprisingly little chemistry. Heigl was still riding the success of Judd Apatow box office smash Knocked Up at the time, though she had already been afforded one slip-up in the contrived and wearisome 27 Dresses in 2008, so Killers was key to her establishing herself as a genuine leading lady in the genre.

Unfortunately for Heigl, the film bombed at the box office and was torn apart by critics, the beginning of what would become a momentous slump for the actress. Of the next six films she released, five have Rotten Tomatoes scores of 10 percent or less, and her cause wasn't helped when comments she made about former colleagues led to her being labelled difficult to work with. Her dip in fortunes got so bad that she eventually resorted to TV commercials, advertising kitty litter among other things.

Natalie Portman (No Strings Attached)

Natalie Portman was a hot property back in 2011, fresh off her Best Actress win at the 83rd annual Academy Awards for her mesmerizing turn as Nina Sayers in Darren Aronofsky's ballet thriller Black Swan. The Israeli-born star had the industry's top critics eating out of her hand, but her follow-up project wound up leaving a sour taste in the mouth. 2011's No Strings Attached came out a month before the Oscars ceremony took place in February, and luckily for Portman the negative reviews (Roger Ebert questioned why she agreed to produce such a film) were not enough to make members of the Academy think twice about crowning her the year's best actress.

Her output since then has been shocking for an actress with such ability, however. Portman followed No Strings Attached with stoner comedy misfire Your Highness and, bar her brief appearances as love interest Jane Foster in Marvel's Thor movies, she has done little of note since. 2016 proved a particularly unfruitful year on the whole (Planetarium, Jane Got A Gun and Knight of Cups were all deemed splats on the trusty Tomatometer) although her portrayal of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in upcoming Pablo Larrain biopic Jackie has reportedly put Portman firmly in the Oscars race.