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It's official: Ashton Kutcher is becoming a man!
The actor, 33, has made a deal to star in the upcoming season of Two and a Half Men, replacing the title character played by fired star Charlie Sheen. "I can't wait to get to work with this ridiculously talented 2.5 team and I believe we can fill the stage with laughter that will echo in viewers' homes," Kutcher said in a statement. "I can't replace Charlie Sheen but I'm going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people!"
Series creator Chuck Lorre also expressed his excitement over the hiring. "We are so lucky to have someone as talented, joyful and just plain remarkable as Ashton joining our family," Lorre said. "Added to that is the deep sigh of relief knowing that our family stays together. If I was any happier, it'd be illegal."
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Kutcher is getting "a huge payday" (the Wall Street Journal says it could be as much as $1 million per episode) to join the cast of the No. 1 rated sitcom. What's more, Lorre has already written a storyline to introduce his character.
"It's really funny. People are going to love it," says an insider of the show's new direction.
Kutcher first hinted at his new gig via Twitter Thursday night. "What's the square root of 6.25?" he asked.
And Ryan Seacrest was quick to reply with the answer. "Two and a half," he wrote. "Congrats on the show bro!"
You may recall that the last person rumored to be replacing Sheen was British rom-com actor Hugh Grant. Turns out that Grant was, in fact, in talks to star in the sitcom, but he ultimately passed on the opportunity (reportedly due to creative differences). On Thursday, Variety reported that CBS was scrambling to find a new star in time for upfronts (the big annual industry presentation of all the major networks' TV line-ups), which happen in less than a week. Later in the day, industry publication B&C broke the news that Kutcher was under consideration.
So it sounds like the deal with Kutcher came together very quickly. And yet it seems like the perfect fit. Kutcher proved a natural at sitcom humor when he played the lovably daft slacker Michael Kelso on That '70s Show -- his first acting role -- from 1998 to 2006. At 33, Kutcher will add some youth to a sitcom that's started to show its age -- and possibly bring in a whole new younger demographic from his 6.7 million Twitter followers. And personality-wise, Kutcher has a lot of Sheen's best qualities (the cocky charm, the mischievous sense of humor) without his worst (the personal-life baggage, the annoying sense of entitlement). Plus Sheen and Kutcher are both great at coining catchphrases: one gave us "winning," the other gave us "punk'd."
Now we're just looking forward to seeing how the Two and a Half Men writers creatively get rid of Charlie. We're betting on either tiger blood poisoning or a Vatican warlock assassination.