That '70s Show

Who Were Debra Jo Rupp And Kurtwood Smith Before That ’70s Show?

A cornerstone of That '70s Show was the on-screen chemistry between Kitty and Red Forman, who were played Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith.

A cornerstone of That ’70s Show was the on-screen chemistry between Kitty and Red Forman, who were played Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith. Fans loved how well the pair brought to life a couple that seemed so in love that it was actually like they had been married for 20 years. The pair had a very natural dynamic with each other and definitely helped make the show as popular as it still is today.

So when fans learned they would be returning for That ’90s Show, they were ecstatic. Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith were able to bring their characters to life and create such a seemingly natural dynamic thanks to their many years of acting. Before That ’70s Show, both had already developed very impressive resumes as actors, and they continue to grow those resumes, even though That ’70s Show will always be their most iconic roles.

9Debra Jo Rupp Started As A Stage Actress

Debra Jo Rupp started her acting career in the late 1970s. She did a handful of commercials and soap operas, but ultimately she found herself working as a stage actress. She did several off-broadway plays, like The Time of The Cuckoo and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, which earned her critical acclaim.

8Kurtwood Smith Started Acting In 1980

Kurtwood Smith’s career started around the same time as Rupp’s, around the late 1970s and early 1980s. Like many actors, he worked his way up from bit parts to supporting roles. His first film was Roadie, which starred Meat Loaf, which was also his first feature film role. Soon after Roadie, Smith did a handful of other parts before getting more speaking roles in films like Going Berzerk and Flashpoint.

7Debra Jo Rupp Broke Into Film In 1988

Debra Jo Rupp’s film debut was in Big, the Tom Hanks movie directed by Penny Marshall. Rupp played the timid secretary of the film’s villain, played by John Heard. From then on, she worked consistently on both television and in movies.

6Kurtwood Smith Had Bit Roles In Several Shows And Movies Until RoboCop

While his film career was ramping up, Smith was also working in television and can be spotted in episodes of The A-Team, The Paper Chase, and Lou Grant a short-lived show starring Ed Asner that has become a cult classic. But in 1987, Smith hit the big time when he played the villain, Clarence Boddicker, in the first Robocop movie. Fans of the movie might just know him as the guy who says, “B*tches, LEAVE!” but his character’s name was Clarence, just for the record.

RELATED:This That ’70s Show Star Looks Completely Unrecognizable Today

5Debra Jo Rupp Began Appearing In Several Sitcoms And Dramas

After Big, Rupp had another stint on Broadway in the 1990 version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But it was her television career that was exploding. Rupp can be found in episodes of several classic 1990s sitcoms and a few dramas. A few notable titles are Newhart, Blossom, LA Law, ER, Seinfeld, and Caroline In The City. But one small role on a sitcom would really give her career a shot in the arm.

4Kurtwood Smith Was In A Star Trek Movie

Smith also got plenty of work on television. He was in The X-Files, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, and numerous shows that modern audiences probably are not familiar with because they were very short-lived. But, Trekkies already know that soon after Robocop, Smith joined the Star Trek franchise with a prominent role in Star Trek VI as the Federation President. He also came back as Clarence in Robocop III.

3Debra Jo Rupp Started To Gain Attention After Appearing On Friends

Remember that sitcom mentioned earlier that boosted Debra Jo Rupp’s career? It was Friends. Fans of the show will recognize her as Alice Knight Buffay, the older woman who marries Phoebe’s brother. A recurring role on such a popular show would help any actor’s career. It would not be long after her role on Friends that she auditioned for the sitcom that turned her into the star she is now.

RELATED:This Notoriously Difficult Actor Delayed The Filming Of ‘That ’70s Show’ By Days

2Kurtwood Smith Played A Controversial Character In A Time To Kill

Among the many roles Smith played, one was in a film that faced a lot of controversies when it was released. Smith played a Klu Klux Klan leader in the movie A Time To Kill, a legal thriller based on the novel by John Grisham of the same name. The story is a very disturbing one as it deals with racism, rape, pedophilia, and moral questions about revenge and self-defense.

1Smith And Rupp Landed That ’70s Show In 1998 And The Rest Is History

Eventually, their search for work lead them to both audition for roles on a Fox sitcom. The story is plain and simple. They auditioned, the show-runners picked up on their chemistry, and they both got their parts. The pilot episode aired in 1998 and from then on they were Kitty and Red Forman, and to That ’70s Show fans that is who they always will be.

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