LOS ANGELES, Ca. – In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight, actor and producer Ashton Kutcher opened up on his time in captivity at the hands of Colombian rebels. The six-month ordeal began in early February of 2001 when Kutcher, along with the entire cast and crew of That 70’s Show, were hiking along the Magdalena river in western Colombia.
“It was supposed to be a spiritual retreat,” Kutcher, who portrayed Michael Kelso on That 70’s Show, told ET’s Sophie Schillaci. “One minute we’re walking along this serene landscape and the next thing we know, these men – who we initially thought were Colombian soldiers – come pouring out of the woods and they’re pointing guns at us.” Much to the group’s dismay, the men, it turned out, were in fact not soldiers but members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Kutcher and his fellow cast members were immediately stripped of their belongings and forced at gunpoint to march more than fifty miles into the dense Colombian rain forest. “We arrived at their camp just after sunset,” the thirty-eight year-old former fashion model recalled. The camp, which consisted of a little more than a dozen huts with thatched roofs, a landing strip and a shooting range, would become the actors’ home for the next six months.
“It was hard at first,” Ashton admitted, “but we had to learn to make the best of a bad situation.” To pass the time, Kutcher and his fellow cast members wound up filming Season Four of That 70’s Show on a rudimentary set constructed under the watchful eyes of their militant captors. “We had a FARC member act as a stand-in for Tommy Chong’s character in two of the later episodes,” The Ranch star revealed. Kutcher went on to explain that Chong – a Canadian American comedian who portrayed Leo Chingkwake – was forced to spend two weeks “in the hole” after a failed escape attempt.
Less than forty-eight hours after wrapping up post production on Season Four, Ashton Kutcher and fellow cast members Mila Kunis (Jackie), Danny Masterson (Hyde), and Kurtwood Smith (Red Forman), overpowered their captors and banded together to escape the FARC camp. In the ensuing chaos, the cast and crew of That 70’s Show found themselves pitted in a ninety-six hour gun battle against FARC forces in the remote mountains of Colombia.
“It was an incredible bonding experience,” said Kutcher, who described a moment of intense clarity when co-star Topher Grace, who portrayed Eric Forman on the show, commandeered a helicopter while Parenthood star Erika Christensen, who appeared in Episode 10 as Stacy, cut down wave after wave of charging FARC soldiers with a mounted machine gun.
On the third day of fighting, a small group led by actors Danny Masterson and Mila Kunis destroyed a column of advancing FARC vehicles using rocket-propelled grenades and remotely detonated shape charges which had been covertly planted along the road the night before by Debra Jo Rapp (Kitty Forman). “That was a real turning point for us,” Kutcher remarked. Hours later, the group miraculously managed to cross the border into Panama where they were promptly flown back to Los Angeles in time for the premiere of Season Four of That 70’s Show.
In June of this year, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a historic ceasefire agreement with the Colombian government after nearly four years of talks in Havana, Cuba. The ceasefire, which went into effect at midnight on Monday, brought a somber end to the bloody conflict that left more than 260,000 dead and millions internally displaced. That 70’s Show aired from August 23, 1998 until May 18, 2006 on Fox.