Ashton Kutcher Explains Those Awkward Red Carpet Photos With Reese Witherspoon

The actor was worried if he put his arm around his co-star, people would think they were "having an affair"

Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon attend the photocall for Netflix's "Your Place Or Mine" at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 30, 2023.
Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon attend the photocall for Netflix's "Your Place Or Mine" at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 30, 2023.
Getty Images

Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon have a new romantic comedy coming out on Netflix this Friday, and naturally the pair have spent a lot of time in recent weeks promoting the movie — doing interviews, attending screenings and posing for photos together. The latter is something that should be easy enough for two people who make their livings appearing on camera, but apparently that’s not always the case.

Last weekend, photos of Kutcher and Witherspoon on the red carpet went viral on social media after fans pounced on the awkward apparent lack of chemistry between the pair. Kutcher in particular seems very uncomfortable in the photos, refusing to put his arm around his co-star.

Now, however, we have an explanation, and it’s a weird one. The actor claims that he didn’t put his arm around Witherspoon because he was worried people would think he’s having an affair with her.

“My wife called me. She texted me and Reese together and she’s like, ‘Guys, you gotta, like, act like you like each other.’ And I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’” he said on Wednesday’s episode of the Chicks in the Office  podcast. “Here’s the thing: If I put my arm around her and was, like, all friendly with her, I’d be having an affair with her — the rumor would be that I’m having an affair with her. If I stand next to her, I put my hands in my pockets so there’s no chance that, like, that could be the rumor.”

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It’s true that celebrities often face unfair scrutiny over their personal lives, but c’mon. There’s no harm in smiling and innocently putting your arm around — or not even around! just slightly behind, to signal a certain degree of congeniality! — a woman who isn’t your wife. People do it all the time, with friends, relatives and coworkers. (As one Twitter user noted, “I’ve taken better photos with cowokers an hour after meeting them at a staff retreat.”) And if you’re a celebrity, you’ve probably even done it with total strangers who insisted on a selfie with you.

There’s a way to take a photo with a woman without stirring up rumors of a torrid affair. And then there’s whatever the hell this is:

Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon

Mind you, these are two people who are supposed to be playing characters who are in love! They’re supposed to be selling us on their chemistry, and instead they look like one of them just farted and refuses to acknowledge it while the other politely pretends like it didn’t happen. This is the best they can do?

To be fair, these aren’t the only photos of the two of them from the red carpet, and a brief scroll through Getty Images reveals that there are, in fact, some pictures where Kutcher is laughing and smiling and the two at the very least appear to like each other. And, as Kutcher pointed out on the podcast, it’s easy to criticize red carpet photos when you’ve never had to pose for them yourself.

“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 at this one! Over here!’ At a certain point you’re looking you’re like, ‘God, this is really something. OK, which one? Look at the camera. Got it. OK, are we done? Awesome.’ For, like, 20 minutes. If you’re gonna tell me in that entire 20-minute period, at one point, you’re not going to have an awkward face, then you’re better than I am. And I’m cool with that.”

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