The Cast Of That 70’s Show: What They Looked Like In Their First Episode vs. Now
When it first premiered on Fox in 1998, That 70’s Show was uniquely ahead of its time despite the fact that it portrayed a group of friends who were from a completely different generation. It primarily focused on six teenagers and their families in the mid-to-late 1970’s, a time that producers felt reflected political ideologies more appropriately. The show was a comically brilliant in many ways, and managed to changes the lives of the six main actors in the show: Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, and Laura Prepon.
The show ended up setting a standard for comedy television shows that followed since it brilliantly used different motifs and on-going gags that stayed true to original followers of the show (like split screens, dream sequences, running catchphrases and jokes, and their use of scene transitions).
But like all shows, it wasn’t without controversy. In the later seasons, rumors of animosity started to arise between the young cast members. The show’s primary character, Eric Forman played by Topher Grace, ended up leaving the show (producers sent the character to go teach in Africa) thanks to tensions between the actors.
We take a look back and see how far these actors all have come since their very first episode on the hit comedy, to what they’re up to now.
15From Point Place To Prison – Laura Prepon
While Laura Prepon (Donna Pinciotti) isn’t the most famous face out of the Point Place crew, she’s arguably the most critically acclaimed actor in the entire group thanks to her turn as Alex Vause on Netflix’s hit series Orange Is The New Black. One That 70’s Show wrapped, she went on to do some low-key, under-the-radar films like The Chosen One, Lay the Favorite, The Kitchen, and The Hero, but it was really her TV work that helped flip the switch on Prepon fame-wise. In her personal life, Prepon is an avid Scientologist and just actually recently announced that she and her fiancé Ben Foster are expecting their first child. She announced that while she is pregnant, she will continue working on Orange and be a working mother in Hollywood.
14The Former Golden Boy – Topher Grace
At the time of 70’s run, Topher Grace was arguably the most “known” main character on the show thanks to him starring in Steven Soderbergh’s award-winning film Traffic, in which Grace played a prep school boy who introduces his girlfriend (played by Erika Christensen, who guest starred on That 70’s Show in the later seasons) to the world of substances. Grace was also known for playing an obnoxious version of himself in different films like Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Twelve. “The joke is that you’re supposed to play the worst version of yourself and I don’t think too many people are comfortable with that,” Grace told Flaunt magazine. “I never thought for a second that people were really going to think that’s what I was like.” Grace is also currently expecting his first child with wife Ashley Hinshaw.
13Motherhood And The A-List Never Looked So Good – Mila Kunis
Actress Mila Kunis is one-half of the most successful box-office babies that came from the hit Fox comedy series. When she first started on the show, Kunis was an unknown actress who was born and raised in the USSR and moved to the States at the delicate age of seven. She started her career starring in commercials and soon won the coveted role of Jackie Burkhart on That 70’s Show when she was 14. Kunis then went on to star in hit comedy movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and drew critical acclaim with her dark performance in the dark thriller Black Swan. Right now, she’s currently living off of the high brought on by the Bad Mom franchise and her marriage to former co-star Ashton Kutcher (whom she has two children with).
12One Half Of The Perfect Pair – Ashton Kutcher
Actor Ashton Kutcher seemed to type-cast himself when he took on the role of the dummy Michael Kelso in the hit comedy series. He was the lovable, but vain, doofus kid who seemed to only get by on his good looks. Hollywood really didn’t see him as anything other than that, which is why he starred in like-minded films like Just Married, Dude, Where’s My Car, and My Boss’s Daughter. He tried to turn everything around by starring in the psychological film The Butterfly Effect, but the movie ended up being a flop. Since then, he took on the lead role in Two And A Half Men after Charlie Sheen vacated the series, and turned heads with his portrayal of Steve Jobs in the biographical film Jobs.
11The Fall From Grace – Danny Masterson
Actor Danny Masterson played the loveable “anti-establishment” paranoid Steven Hyde on the hit comedy show. He quickly turned into almost everyone’s favorite character, especially when his character suddenly ended up falling in love with the spoiled rich girl of the group, Jackie. After 70’s wrap, Masterson disappeared from the industry for a while before reappearing years later in the Netflix comedy series The Ranch which also starred former co-star, Ashton Kutcher. However, the show was suddenly canceled after allegations of questionable behavior started to plague the actor. More and more women are stepping forward with damaging allegations and the cases keep mounting. He was even dropped by the talent agency United Talent Agency, who had represented him since his days on the Fox comedy series.
10Living Life On The Top – Wilmer Valderrama
He was a complete unknown when the show kicked off (okay, so almost all of them were relative unknowns) but during the course of the comedy series, Wilmer Valderrama who played Fez (the foreign exchange student who was completely elusive about which country he was actually from) took on a certain amount of fame – especially when it came to dating A-List Hollywood actresses/musicians. Even after the show finished its run, Valderrama never really took on a starring role in a television series and/or film but managed to pick up playing important reoccurring characters on popular series like Grey’s Anatomy and The Ranch. However, Valderrama was in high profile relationship with celebrities like Lindsey Lohan and most recently Demi Lovato. At one point, Valderrama even had a music career after he released the song “The Way I Fiesta” back in 2011.
9Still Going Strong – Kurtwood Smith
When audiences were first introduced to Kurtwood Smith, it was in the form of Clarence Boddicker in RoboCop, but that role was quickly forgotten the second that Red Forman was introduced in the pilot episode of That 70’s Show. Red played the grumpy, veteran father of Eric Forman, who was constantly ragging on his son for being wimpy (in Red’s eyes). After the series wrapped, the veteran actor went on to take other roles in series like Gary & Mike, Terrible Thunderlizards, and even the series The Ranch, joining former castmates Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson. Within his personal life, Smith is married to Joan Pirkle (who starred with him in RoboCop) and has one daughter and one son. And yes, most of would love to see him once again in a cranky, old-man role – because, man, he was so dang good.
8From Former Kitty To This Is Us – Debra Jo Rupp
We all know the pitch of her voice from a million miles away. Debra Jo Rupp played the fun-loving, easy-going Kitty Forman, mother of Eric and wife of Red Forman. But before then, she was known for playing the secretary Miss Patterson in the hit Tom Hanks movie Big. But her career was defined once she took on the role of Kitty in the hit series. After that, she was accepting huge roles on hit series all over the place. Like playing Alice Knight-Buffay on Friends (where she played a teacher who fell in love with Phoebe Buffay’s younger brother). Since then, she’s had roles in shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Better With You, Hart of Dixie, The Ranch (with all her other former co-stars) and most recently, the NBC hit drama This Is Us.
7He Made The Fro Look Good – Don Stark
Most people didn’t know the name Don Stark until he purely embodied the 1970’s by playing the afro-having, open shirt wearing, hairy chested Bob Pinciotti on That 70’s Show. Bob was a fun-loving character who was more content with being a friend to his daughter Donna rather than a parental figure. Sure, he embarrassed the heck out of his fictional daughter and her friends, but overall, he loved her and meant well. Stark himself didn’t seem to manage to break away from Bob Pinciotti after the show wrapped and took on various small parts in unknown (or unpopular shows/movies) like My Name Is Jerry, Wrong Cops, Hello, My Name Is Doris, Safelight, Café Society, and C Street. Quite honestly, we’d love to see him in more shows that highlight his comedic talents.
6Still The Ultimate Beautiful Mom – Tanya Roberts
She was every teenage boy’s fantasy, pretty much the living embodiment of you’re A-Typical “Mrs. Robinson”. Before she took on the role of Midge Pinciotti, model/actress Tanya Roberts was a literal bonified Bond girl, who actually starred in A View To Kill. As Donna’s mother on 70’s she was the ultimate fantasy figure in the lives of all the teenage boys on the block (and would commonly embarrass her daughter Donna at times). A lot of people don’t actually know that the reason why Roberts actually left the show; Roberts was written off suddenly in 2001 after the character suddenly up and bailed on her family and moved to California. The reason was due to her husband, Barry Roberts, who had become terminally ill and she suddenly left to take care of him.
5Tragic Times And Desperate Measures – Lisa Robin Kelly
The story of Lisa Robin Kelly is a tragic one. As most people know, the young actress played the comedic, and sharp sister of Eric Forman, Laurie Forman for the first few seasons on That 70’s Show, but was suddenly replaced in the sixth season of the show by actress Christina Moore. Kelly had the perfect comedic timing that matched up with the flow of the show, but it seemed to diminish after she was replaced for personal reasons. While filming the series, Kelly faced a slew of legal troubles after she struggled with an addiction battle throughout her life (and during the shooting of the series). Tragically, Kelly lost the addiction battle and lost her life at the young age of 43 in 2013.
4Cheech’s Better Half – Tommy Chong
Out of everyone on the show who had a strong, reoccurring role, it was Tommy Chong who was the most known actor out of everyone, and who comically stole the show every time he appeared onscreen. Chong played a very Cheech & Chong like-minded character on the hit series when he appeared as the allusive Leo, a mentor-like figure for Hyde. Leo was very much like Chong’s most famous Hollywood character (you all know who I’m talking about). Even though Leo breezed in and out of scenes, he mixed so extremely well with the entire cast that he became their most popular reoccurring character on the show. Years after the show wrapped, Chong came out and said he was battling prostate cancer in 2012. In 2015, he also stated that he had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
3Forever Living In His Brother’s Shadow – Josh Meyers
As most fans of the show already know, the main character Eric Forman (whom the entire series was literally centered around since it mostly took place in his parents’ basement) bailed for Africa (see ya, Topher Grace), and was replaced by a character named Randy, played by Josh Meyers. Randy was mostly brought in to be a romantic interest for Donna, who was newly blonde and left high-and-dry by her longtime boyfriend Eric. Ratings began to drop at that time because both Grace and Kutcher had both left the series, so the addition of Meyers really wasn’t able to save the show. Meyers is actually the younger brother of Saturday Night Live alumni Seth Meyers, who now pretty much controls all of late night television with his Late Night show.
2Going Old School In Style – Luke Wilson
Once That 70’s Show started picking up speed with audiences and critics, more and more famous actors wanted to be a part of the show – famous actors like Luke Wilson, who was known for his roles in films like Old School, Idiocracy, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Legally Blonde. But when Donna decided to break up with Eric after he attempted to give her a promise ring, she started dating Michael Kelso’s older rebel brother Casey, whom she fell in love with. Even after he managed to leave Donna high and dry, Wilson’s Casey came back and starred as a reoccurring character who would appear at random times in Donna’s life (he was also fawned all over by Kitty, who was extremely attracted to his dangerous looks).
1The Model Mother – Brooke Shields
Jackie had always been a scene-stealing character thanks to Mila’s immaculate performance, so whoever was to play her mother (who, on the show, had ditched her father to go drink in Mexico) had to be scene-stealing as well. Enter former model Brooke Shields, who played the wayward Pamela Burkhart to Mila’s snobby Jackie. But by the time her mother returned to her world, Jackie had already pretty much replaced her mother with surrogate parental figures Red and Kitty. Brooke Shields was never a stranger to playing the beautiful, bimbo-like figure, but she took it to a whole different level when taking on the role of Pamela. She replaced Midge as the coveted after “Mrs. Robinson” figure, much to Jackie’s horror and even started dating Donna’s father Bob. And yes, Shields did age so beautifully that it shouldn’t be considered fair.