Spread: Interview with Ashton Kutcher

Starring Ashton Kutcher, Spread is a fresh, funny, and racy look at the trials and tribulations of sleeping your way into a life of privilege in Los Angeles. Comic and karmic, the film is a sexy, modern day tale about a gorgeous guy who gives women what they want in order to live exactly as he likes…and ultimately pays a price for doing so.


In Spread, Kutcher plays Nikki, a sexual grifter and fun-loving, freeloading Hipster, who understands that his greatest assets are his looks and sexual prowess, which he uses to charm his way into the hearts of the city’s richest women to enjoy their lifestyle. Nikki gets a free place to live, fantastic gifts, A-list access, and plenty of sex. His women get to feel beautiful, attended to, and utterly fulfilled in the bedroom. It’s mutually beneficial.


Nikki’s latest conquest is Samantha (Anne Heche), a stunning middle-aged lawyer with a great house in the hills. But when he meets a gorgeous waitress named Heather, (Margarita Levieva) his thoughts begin to wander towards her. She visits Nikki at Samantha’s house while Samantha is out of town, sees what an incredible place it is, and Nikki allows her to come to the mistaken conclusion that it’s his. Unbeknownst to Nikki, Heather lives by playing the same game he does.


Nikki pulls out all the stops to win Heather over and they begin to form their own kind of bond. Sexually charged by a game of one-ups-manship, each shows the other their tricks, and they unexpectedly fall in love – the one thing they can’t do in the life they lead. Soon, the truth of their unfolding attraction forces a choice between love and money, and Nikki has to decide whether he can live on his own once and for all in the hopes of finding something real.


Spread stars Ashton Kutcher, Anne Heche, Margarita Levieva, Sebastian Stan, and Rachel Blanchard. The film was directed by David Mackenzie. The screenplay is by Jason Hall, and the story is by Jason Hall and Paul Kolsby.  It was produced by Jason Goldberg, Ashton Kutcher, and Peter Morgan.

Executive producing on the film were Myles Nestel and Anthony Callie, Aaron Kaufman, Ron Hartenbaum, Douglas Kuber, Paul Kolsby, and John Limotte, with Elliot Kaufman and Karyn Murphy as associate producers.


The talented behind-the-scenes crew includes director of photography Steven Poster, ASC, production designer Cabot McMullen, composer John Swihart, editor Nicholas Erasmus, costume designer Ruth Carter, and music supervisor Elizabeth Miller.


For the actors in Spread, starring in the film meant a chance to explore some fascinating characters. To join the cast meant diving into their roles head-on and explore a realistic, more intense side of modern day romantic and sexual challenges. It was an actors’ dream, and the cast relished the opportunity. Kutcher' Nikki is the film’s charming but conflicted lead. In discussing his character and his motivations, Kutcher says, “I’m playing an ego booster, basically. Nikki is a guy searching for love in all the wrong ways. When he finally finds it, all the wrong ways in which he tried to find it come back to haunt him.”


Describing why he felt an immediate connection with Nikki, Kutcher says it was partly because he himself understood much of what Nikki was going through. “I understood the pain of the character,” he says. “I understood what he was ultimately seeking. I played ‘the game’ for long enough to know it doesn’t end well. The only way to win is through compassion and love, and trying to find the way to give to someone in the greatest way you possibly can.”


Kutcher also felt energized at the thought of playing a kind of role he hadn’t done yet. “It’s fun to dive into a character,” he says. “A lot of movies I get asked to do, I’m asked to play myself, or a character I’ve already played. Having the liberty to create a new kind of role is refreshing, liberating, and fun.”


Having British director David Mackenzie at the helm was another new experience for Kutcher. Kutcher found there were some differences working with Mackenzie when compared to some of the American directors with whom he’s collaborated. “English directors come in with an expectation that you’re going to deliver. When you do, you’re doing your job. And when you don’t, you’re failing,” he laughs. However, Mackenzie’s style energized his own performance. “I always knew when David wasn’t happy, but I never knew when he was happy, which was fantastic – it helped drive me,” he says.


In preparation for the film, Kutcher did a lot of character work, building a profile for Nikki and making sure he knew the character backwards and forwards. He says, “I found a voice for him, a posture and a truth for him so that once we were shooting, if things didn’t go the way I thought they’d go, I’d be able to handle it in character as Nikki.”


At the opening of the film, Nikki is a man who lives as he likes by finding women to fall in love with that will take care of him, financially and sexually. It’s the actual emotionality of a relationship Nikki doesn’t much concern himself with. “Nikki is a guy that really doesn’t know about compassion,” says Kutcher. “He’s a guy that doesn’t know about being there for someone, and as the film progresses he’s having to learn the lessons of that kind of life through his mistakes and through hard knocks.


“Nikki targets women that are caretakers,” he continues. “Women that are going to feed him and support him and be there for him. He does as little as he possibly can, but enough for them to buy into that fantasy for awhile.”