Michael Kutcher was once upset with his famous twin brother, Ashton, for revealing his cerebral palsy diagnosis on national television.
Now a spokesman for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Michael thanks his actor sibling for allowing him “to be myself” after years of suppressing his condition, which affects his hearing, speech, vision and mobility in his right hand, according to NBC’s ‘Today’ show.
“I was very angry. Very angry. I remember speaking to him about it,” Michael told ‘Today’ on Thursday, talking about the moment 17 years ago that Ashton announced his brother’s cerebral palsy to the world. “I didn’t want to be the face of CP. I never talked about it.”
Michael recalled being bullied as a child because of his disability by kids who called him “every name in the book on the playground.”
Though he struggled to make friends, Michael said he always had Ashton’s help and support. For example, when bullies once hurled the slur at him in his twin’s presence, Ashton fought back.
“My brother picked a fight with them. He stood up for me. He wanted them to treat me with respect,” Michael said. “And that meant a lot.”
According to ‘Today’, young Ashton refused to attend sleepovers unless his brother was also welcome, insisting they were a package deal.
These days, a 43-year-old Michael continues to be grateful for his brother’s allyship and elevated platform, which have amplified his own story to a wider audience.
By publicly sharing his diagnosis, Ashton “did me the biggest favour he’s ever done,” Michael said.
After the mother of a 5-year-old girl with cerebral palsy reached out to him because of Ashton’s remarks, Michael was “finally ready” to speak about his condition on his own terms and knew he’d “have a big reach” because of his brother, best known at the time for starring in ‘That ‘70s Show’.
“My brother’s daily actions remind me that life isn’t about running around challenges — it’s about running through them,” Ashton told ‘Today’ in a statement. “Mike has a relentless work ethic and a deep compassion for others.”
Part of that work ethic involves serving as an advisor at the app Joshin, which helps people find qualified caregivers for loved ones with disabilities.
“I love who I am. I love the impact I’ve been able to make, the people I’ve been able to touch,” Michael said. “And I wouldn’t have been able to do that If I didn’t have these obstacles, or as I like to call them — an opportunity.”