“Punk'd” star will join the hit CBS sitcom, production will resume this summer
Ashton Kutcher will officially step in for Charlie Sheen on "Two and a Half Men," CBS announced on Friday.
It marks a primetime homecoming for Kutcher, who first got his start as a member of "The 70's Show," before leaving that Fox series to focus on a big screen career.
He will make $1 million an episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Before he was fired last March, Sheen was the highest paid actor on television, banking $1.8 million an episode.
Kutcher expressed his excitement about joining the cast of the long-running sitcom and even had kind words for the man he is ostensibly replacing.
"I can't replace Charlie Sheen but I'm going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people," Kutcher said in a statement.
Chuck Lorre, the show's creator who has feuded with troubled Sheen prior to his firing last spring, expressed relief that the series would not fall victim to the former star's public meltdown.
"We are so lucky to have someone as talented, joyful and just plain remarkable as Ashton joining our family," Chuck Lorre, the show's creator and executive producer, said in a statement.. "Added to that is the deep sigh of relief knowing that our family stays together. If I was any happier, it'd be illegal."
Sheen was fired from the series in March after engaging in increasingly bizarre behavior and reportedly struggling with substance abuse. He is currently suing Lorre and Warner Bros. TV for $100 million over the termination.
Kutcher's hiring will presumably put to rest rumors — primarily fanned by Sheen as he travels around the country on his road show — that the star has been in discussions with Warner Bros. Television and CBS about returning to "Two and a Half Men."
A number of names have been tossed around as possible replacements since Sheen's ouster. Most recently, "About a Boy" actor Hugh Grant was offered the part. Grant reportedly dropped out due to creative differences, though the fact that he was offered well under $1 million an episode — far less than Sheen — might also have had something to do with his reluctance.
Moving to "Two and a Half Men" could be a wise career move for Kutcher. Though he has scored a few modest hits with "Dude Where's My Car?" and as a member of the ensemble film "Valentine's Day," many of his most recent movies, such as "Killers," have stumbled at the box office.
He has also kept a hand in the television world, as co-creator and producer of MTV's hit series "Punk'd," and The CW's reality series "Beauty and the Geek" and "True Beauty."
Production on the ninth season of the hit show will resume this summer for broadcast in the fall.
Kutcher hinted he was joining "Two and a Half Men" Thursday after The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that he would take Charlie Sheen's place.
"What's the square root of 6.25?" he tweeted. The answer is 2.5.