That '70s Show

16 Things We Didn’t Know About The Behind The Scenes Of That 70s Show

Can you believe that this year is the twentieth anniversary of That '70s Show's very first episode?

Can you believe that this year is the twentieth anniversary of That ’70s Show’s very first episode? It feels like only yesterday that we were watching Eric, Jackie, Michael, Donna, Steven, and Fez muddle through their teenage years! Two decades on, the show still has a dedicated fanbase enchanted by its wit, warmth, and depiction of ’70s culture. Many of its actors have gone on to become big names in the industry: Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Laura Prepon have definitely made it big! We’ve had a That ’70s Show wedding – Ashton and Mila are adorable – and a fair few controversies surrounding the cast too. Still, no amount of scandal and gossip could counteract the huge impact the show had on a generation of teens. It was one of the biggest series of the early 2000s, and people were pretty gutted when it concluded back in 2006.

To feed our huge That ’70s Show nostalgia, let’s take a look back at the making of the series – and at the lives of its actors. Behind the scenes, the teen leads got up to some pretty hilarious stuff. Some of them got on well; others really, really didn’t. Lies were told, pranks were pulled, and one cast member managed to get themselves embroiled in a major, industry-changing scandal. Here is a selection of the juiciest things that went down behind the scenes of That ’70s Show.

16Mila Kunis Lied To The Show’s Producers About Her Age

Did you know that Mila Kunis was just 14 years old when she was cast as conceited rich girl Jackie Burkhart? No? Well, turns out the producers of That ’70s Show weren’t aware of this fact either!

When a casting call was released for the show, it insisted that everyone who auditioned was at least 18 years of age. Kunis was desperate to get the role of Jackie, so simply told producers that she would be 18 soon.

‘Soon’ is clearly very subjective! They fell for Kunis’ ruse, and the young actress secured her part.

Kunis’ secret didn’t remain concealed forever. In fact, producers worked out her real age pretty quickly once filming began. However, they felt that Kunis was the perfect fit for the role of Jackie and decided to let her age – and her lie – slide. The actress must have been very relieved: her stint on That ’70s Show turned out to be her breakout role!

15Lisa Robin Kelly’s Tragic Secret Led To Her Getting Fired

In the first few seasons of That ’70s Show, Lisa Robin Kelly took on the role of Laurie Forman, the promiscuous older sister of Topher Grace’s Eric. However, Kelly mysteriously began to disappear from the show following its third season, eventually being replaced by Christina Moore in season six. It later emerged that Kelly had been fired from the show due to an inability to control various addictions. The main issue was a drinking problem, with Kelly claiming this begun after a failed pregnancy. While she was given a second chance in That ’70s Show‘s fifth season, she later burned all bridges with the show, leading to Moore being brought in.

Unfortunately, Kelly’s life only spiraled further downhill after her firing from That ’70s Show. She endured several brushes with the law, entered into a number of abusive relationships, and began to use other substances on top of alcohol. She later passed away aged just 43 while staying in a rehab facility.

14Mila Kunis Didn’t Like Future Husband Ashton Kutcher While They Were On The Show

If back in the early 2000s you’d have told That ’70s Show co-stars, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, that they’d end up married one day, the two probably would have laughed in your face.

The two didn’t get together until 2012, five years after the show concluded. In fact, they reportedly didn’t get on very well on the series’ set!

Their former colleagues were shocked but amused when Kutcher and Kunis went public with their romance.

In an adorable twist, it turns out that Kutcher was Kunis’ first kiss: they shared a smooch on That ’70s Show when the actress was still only 14 years old. They apparently didn’t enjoy it very much, with Kutcher feeling especially awkward about Kunis’ young age. Can you blame him? He was almost 20 at the time! Still, the pair managed to put their past animosity behind them following Kutcher’s divorce from Demi Moore. Kunis reached out to Kutcher to bury the hatchet, and their epic love story began.

13Topher Grace Was Very Nearly Replaced

At the end of That ’70s Show‘s seventh season, Eric actor Topher Grace decided that it was time for him to leave the show. Just like his co-star Ashton Kutcher, Grace skipped out on the show’s eighth and final season to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood. His character was sent on a teaching trip to Africa, returning only in the series finale to reconcile with long-time love Donna. Unfortunately, Grace’s gamble failed to pay off: he never quite managed to crack Hollywood and has been relegated to mostly minor roles in his current career.

When Grace announced his intention to leave That ’70s Show, producers were initially unsure about what to do with his character. They came very close to casting another actor as Eric and writing Grace out completely! Eventually, though, a less harsh alternative was decided on. Josh Meyers joined the cast as new character Randy Pearson, and Grace was given an open invitation to return for the finale if he wanted to.

12Two Cast Members Joined The Church Of Scientology

During their time on That ’70s Show, not one but two major cast members joined the infamous Church of Scientology.

Laura Prepon and Danny Masterson both remain in the church to this day, although their attitude to their membership is somewhat different.

Masterson has been infamously outspoken regarding his praise of the church, often openly insulting and cursing out those who show the slightest amount of doubt about its message. It’s also alleged that leading Scientologists covered up numerous allegations of misconduct against Masterson – but more on that later.

Prepon, on the other hand, has been more understated regarding her belief in Scientology. She hasn’t gone quite as far as Masterson when it comes to denouncing “non-believers”, and has instead only really spoken about the apparently positive effects the Church has on her life. Her interviews on the subject are basically indecipherable – Prepon certainly knows her Scientology terminology! From what we can gather, though, she’s very happy with her experiences of the church.

11Joseph Gordon-Levitt Was Supposed To Have A Recurring Role

Remember when Joseph Gordon-Levitt made a one-time appearance in That ’70s Show as Eric’s openly gay lab partner? Well, Eric’s buddy – actually named Buddy – was originally going to be a recurring character on the show! The series’ progressive producers wanted to include a gay character and explore the various issues and heartaches he might experience in 1970s America. The smooch between Eric and Buddy was actually the first ever gay kiss on American prime-time TV – way to go, That ’70s Show!

Unfortunately, it seems that the American viewing public was not quite as ready to be progressive as the producers of That ’70s Show were. The gay kiss wasn’t received very well, and the decision was made to cut any future appearances from Buddy. The move didn’t exactly harm Gordon-Levitt’s career: he’s now one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs and claims to be very proud of his brief That ’70s Show stint.

10Danny Masterson Has Been Accused Inappropriate Behavior At The Time He Was Filming That ’70s Show

Things have gone from bad to worse for That ’70s Show alum Danny Masterson in recent months. A few weeks after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke back in October 2017, Masterson himself was added to the long list of men in Hollywood accused of misconduct.

Several women came forward with allegations, many of whom claimed that Masterson had committed serious crimes against them.

These claims dated back to the early 2000s – the time that Masterson was filming That ’70s Show.

Initially, Masterson totally brushed off the allegations as false. He claimed that they were part of an anti-Scientology smear campaign, highlighting the fact that all of the women were ex-members of the church. It’s clear that Scientology did play a role in the scandal somehow – it’s alleged that the church actively suppressed the publication of claims against Masterson for years before the story finally broke. In the wake of these misconduct allegations, Masterson was fired from his Netflix show The Ranch. He’s yet to be charged by police, but his reputation and career lie in tatters.

9Topher Grace Apparently Didn’t Get Along With His Co-Stars

While Topher Grace claimed that he left That ’70s Show purely for career reasons, many believe that his exit was hastened by a bad relationship with his co-stars.It’s unclear exactly what went down on set, but Grace certainly seems to have been uninterested in forging a lasting friendship with the rest of the cast. In the years since the show concluded, Grace has certainly distanced himself from his former colleagues. He was the only teen star of That ’70s Show not to appear on Ashton Kutcher’s show Punk’d, and has not been spotted at any cast reunions.

Rumor has it that Grace became unhappy when the focus of That ’70s Show strayed further and further away from his character Eric. Initially, the Forman family were going to be the main stars of the show. However, over the seasons the other teen stars became more and more involved in major plot lines. Whether this really caused resentment on Grace’s part or not, he certainly seems uninterested in reuniting with his former co-stars anytime soon.

8The Show Almost Had A Very Different Title

When Ashton Kutcher first auditioned for That ’70s Show, the series was going by a very different name. Initially, the show’s creators wanted to merely hint at its 1970s setting rather than outright state it in the title. They chose to reference songs from a huge 70s band – The Who – to communicate that message.

The first idea thrown out there was The Kids Are Alright, a pretty apt title considering the age and antics of the lead characters. Next came Teenage Wasteland, another appropriate title that referenced the classic The Who song “Baba O’Riley”.

This is the incarnation of the show that Kutcher first encountered, and the one he signed on for. However, it was eventually felt that going down the song title route was a bit too obscure. Producers decided on the catchier title That ’70s Show, and the rest, as they say, is history.

7Wilmer Valderrama Taught Mila Kunis How To Drive

Mila Kunis’ young age when she was working on That ’70s Show basically meant that she grew up on the show’s set. She was much younger than many of her castmates, most of whom were in their late teens or early twenties. This led to many of Kunis’ fellow actors guiding their younger colleague through major teenage milestones. Fez actor Wilmer Valderrama taught Kunis how to drive when she was 16, potentially while the pair were in a relationship! Neither of them has confirmed or denied the romance, but they were certainly close whatever the case. Danny Masterson took Kunis to her first club and bought the actress her very first drink a few years later, while Ashton Kutcher was more responsible and merely helped Kunis with her homework. Little did Kutcher know that he was assisting his future wife!

6Laura Prepon, Ashton Kutcher, And Danny Masterson All Hid The Same Habit From Producers

Being set in the era of hippie culture and teenage rebellion, it’s unsurprising that That ’70s Show portrayed its teenage characters partaking in various, shall we say, “smoking habits” of the non-cigarette kind. Of course, the producers couldn’t show narcotics abuse on a so-called ‘family’ sitcom. Producers got around this by frequenting implementing “the circle”, a shot in which the teen characters sat in a circle while surrounded by smoke.

They all obviously looked to be under the influence of something, although what exactly was never specified. It was always just referred to as the “stash” or “stuff”.

This smoky environment gave a few of the show’s young actors the perfect way to hide a real-life habit that was frowned upon by producers. Laura Prepon, Danny Masterson, and Ashton Kutcher all smoked cigarettes in between takes before hiding them in among “the circle”. The smell of tobacco was hidden by the strawberry scent of the fake smoke. How sneaky!

5Tanya Roberts Disappeared From The Show Due To A Personal Tragedy

Lisa Robin Kelly wasn’t the only actress to disappear from That ’70s Show. Tanya Roberts, who portrayed Donna’s mother Midge Pinciotti, was written out of the show at her own request for a tragic reason. Her husband, Barry, became terminally ill in 2001 after being diagnosed with encephalitis, a severe disease of the brain. Roberts dropped out of the show in order to care for him in the last years of his life. Her character Midge was kept off-screen thanks to a storyline that saw her leaving her husband and moving to California. While Roberts made some guest appearances in the show’s sixth and seventh seasons, she remained mostly distanced from the acting world in order to focus on her personal troubles. Her husband eventually passed away in 2006, the year That ’70s Show concluded.

4Everyone Thought Topher Grace Was A Bad Kisser

Poor Topher Grace! Apparently, every actor and actress who had to film an on-screen smooch with the actor came out of it thinking he was a pretty awful kisser. His first unsuspecting victim was Laura Prepon, whose character Donna was Grace’s love interest for the majority of That ’70s Show‘s run.

Prepon was unimpressed with her on-screen boyfriend’s kissing abilities, even stating that her Orange is the New Black co-star Taylor Schilling was far superior in the lips department than Topher. Ouch!

Another slightly more surprising actor to testify against Grace’s kissing skills was Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The actor appeared in one episode of That ’70s Show as a gay character enamored with Grace’s character Eric. Gordon-Levitt was even harsher about his on-screen kissing partner than Prepon was, stating that Grace was probably the worst kisser he’d ever encountered in his life. Oh dear. A moment of silence for poor, poor Topher.

3The Cast Had An Adorable Pre-Filming Ritual

Luckily for us, Wilmer Valderrama has been very candid about his time on That ’70s Show. He’s even spilled the beans on the cast’s adorable but super lame pre-filming ritual. Before performing in front of the live studio audience, the teenage cast would assemble in a circle and all put their hands in the middle. They’d come up with a particular word to represent the episode they were about to shoot and proceeded to chant it as a kind of mantra. These words apparently got more and more ridiculous as each season progressed, even straying into cursing territory as the series drew to a close. While Valderrama admits that the ritual seems more than a little bit stupid from the outside, he credits it with making all of the cast members feel more at ease. It was a good way to get everyone laughing before filming, a key ingredient when you’re filming a comedy!

2Hippie Leo Took A Break From The Show Because His Actor Went To Jail

Eagle-eyed That ’70s Show fans will have noticed that loveable hippie Leo’s appearances in the series are sporadic, to say the least. He was a guest character in seasons two, three, and seven, a regular in four and eight, and totally absent from one, five, and six. Turns out that this irregularity wasn’t a creative choice: it was all down to actor Tommy Chong’s ‘personal problems’.

Chong actually spent the duration of seasons five and six in jail!

He was investigated by the FBI on narcotics smuggling charges, eventually being charged and sentenced to a period of incarceration. Chong claimed that his celebrity status was used against him in his trial, but the FBI was less than sympathetic. When Chong was released, his That ’70s Show bosses decided to give him another chance and reinstated him on the show. It looks like he suited his hippie character pretty well, all things considered!

1Mila Kunis’ Short Stature Made Filming Tricky

Standing at 5 foot and 4 inches, Mila Kunis isn’t exactly the world’s tallest actress. In fact, her short stature was so noticeable during the filming of That ’70s Show that numerous techniques had to be employed to ensure she’d actually remain in-shot.

There were particular issues whenever Kunis had to film with Laura Prepon. 5-foot-ten Prepon is so much taller than Kunis that it was practically impossible to get them in the same shot naturally.

Various visual ploys had to be used to fix this, including Kunis sitting down almost all of the time. When her character absolutely had to be standing up, Kunis wore platform heels to bring her a bit closer to her co-star’s height. It can’t have been that comfortable, but it was a better solution that Prepon constantly having to crouch or squat!

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