That 70s Show was one of the best sitcoms of our modern era, and Topher Grace played a huge part in drawing in it’s devoted fan base. As the show’s lead, he played the nerdy, scrawny, and somewhat clumsy Eric Forman.
Eric was a bit of a smart-aleck, He could spit back a quick witty comeback on command in his own signature deadpan sarcastic way, but he was also a genuinely nice guy at heart. And you can’t talk about any of the That 70s Show cast members without pointing out their nightly ritual of hanging out in Eric’s basement ‘burning incense’. You know that had something to do with how chill he was. You know what I’m saying?
Grace played Forman for the show’s first seven seasons, but he departed right before filming of the eighth and final season began. Froman’s absence was explained away by saying that he was overseas fulfilling a year-long commitment to teaching English in Africa, but fans didn’t care what excuse the writers made. Even the most die-hard fans found the show sorely lacking without Eric. Season 8 is universally regarded as the show’s weakest installment.
Josh Meyers As Randy Pearson
After Topher made his exit, That 70s Show producers brought in actor Josh Meyers to serve as a replacement of sorts for the hole left by Eric Forman’s absence. He was originally hired to actually play Eric. The difference in the two actors’ appearances would have been explained by saying that Eric returned from Africa ‘a changed man’. Fortunately, the writers realized that would have been a terrible idea and instead they developed for Meyer the character of Randy Pearson.
Hyde Hired Pearson to help run the record store and he quickly became a love interest for Donna – although their ‘chemistry’ if you could call it that always felt kind of forced.
Randy’s character was sort of a hodge-podge between Eric and Kelso. He had Eric’s snarky sense of humor and was often the impromptu leader of the crew but he also had Kelso’s good looks and sex appeal.
It was clear that That 70s Show producers were trying too hard to keep the show alive. Randy Pearson was absolutely despised by fans who saw his presence as just another sign that the show had jumped the shark. It was time for the sitcom to come to a close. And end it did. Randy Pearson only appeared in 21 episodes of the show and was only given one line in the series finale when Eric made his final appearance. The writers weren’t confused. No one liked Pearson. They just wanted Eric.
Why Did Topher Grace Leave?
Grace’s departure was in part to do with his desire to explore a career in feature films instead. He felt like That 70s Show was stifling his chances of exploring higher prospects. Grace began to dabble in film while he was still a cast member but his contractual obligations made it difficult for him to pursue that path as thoroughly as he would have liked. You might remember Topher in Traffic in 2000 and in P.S., In Good Company, and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton – all of which hit theaters in 2004.
His film career prospects were starting to look promising, and his next movie appearance – and the first one he’d take on post That 70s Show – was about as high-profile as film roles come. In 2007, he was cast as Venom aka Eddie Brock in Sam Raimi’s third Spider-man installment. The film was a massive success, taking in a whopping $895 million globally.
For the next decade, that film would be the highest-grossing Spidey flick until 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home swooped in and took the title.
Even though Spider-Man 3 made a ton of money, it’s typically remembered as being the weakest addition to the Raimi trilogy. For one thing, it suffered from a dizzying and convoluted plotline that totally falls apart in the third act, Venom hardly stays true to his comic-book source material, and then theirs the whole ’emo’ Peter Parker thing that you’ve probably already blocked out of your memory banks. It might not have been the worse movie ever, but it certainly was a misfire in a number of blatantly obvious ways.
And even though Grace clearly threw himself into the role, he was largely seen as a poor casting choice for the films villain. At the end of the day, appearing in the film did little to advance his film career as he hoped it would.
It’s actually pretty unfortunate that Grace left the uber-popular That 70s Show just to appear in a film that is remembered in a pretty negative light. Even Raimi admits that his film was a dud and that Grace’s Venom character was basically shoehorned into the movie just to appease producer Avi Arad.
Fortunately, Grace recovered from the career speed bump, earned from the experience, and has since proved himself to be a respectable character actor.
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Topher Lucked Out By Being On A Sitcom For So Many Years
Seeing how That 70s Show reruns have been playing in syndication on repeat for the last 14 years, Grace really doesn’t have to worry about money. Those royalty checks keep on coming in. As such, he’s been fortunate enough to be choosy about the roles he picks.
He wants to pick films that he believes in and can stand behind. He could care less about taking home a huge paycheck or getting a whole bunch of publicity.
Grace’s approach has largely been a winning strategy – with a few exceptions of course, but that kind of thing is expected when you’re a Hollywood actor. He’s for the most part stuck to smaller independent films since Spider-Man 3 but he’s gotten the opportunity to work with several high-profile directors such as Christopher Nolan when he played Getty in 2014s Interstellar and Spike Lee in 2018s Blackkklansman where he played the infamous KKK grand wizard David Duke.
He’s even managed to land a few lead roles over the years. In 2018 he starred in the suspenseful psychological horror film Delirium and in 2019 he played social media baron Billy Bauer in a 2019 episode of Black Mirror.
In 2020, he starred alongside Steve Carell and Mackenzie Davis in the political comedy Irresistible. He’s also eyeing a return to television in the upcoming comedy series Treasure Squad. Sony Pictures Television is developing the series and Grace is trying his hand out as a writer, executive producer, and lead star.
All things considered, things have worked out pretty decently for Grace since he made his shockingly abrupt departure from That 70s Show, but fans of the series will always wish that Eric had stuck around for a couple more seasons.
Who knows, maybe someday a That 70s Show will materialize. Stranger things have happened. Even Topher Grace himself hasn’t denied that possibility. He told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 that he would absolutely do a reunion if the stars were to align. He went on to describe his tenure on the show as one of the more enjoyable chapters of his life. He did however express doubt that such a reunion was actually feasible.
“It would be so hard to bring that crew together’, Grace said and then added that he’d still do it even if no one saw it because hanging out with his former co-stars for a week or so would be satisfying enough.
What Happened To The Rest Of The Gang?
Mila Kunis lied about her age when she auditioned for the role of Jackie. She was only 14 and the producers required that all the cast be 18. Her minor deception paid off for her though as the network absolutely adored her.
After That 70s Show, Kunis made quite the name for herself. In 2008, she played Rachel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. She earned further acclaim for her role in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan in 2010. That same year she also starred in The Book Of Eli and in 2013 she starred in Oz The Great and Powerful as the Wicked Witch of the West.
Her next film Breaking News in Yuba County is slated for release on January 29, 2021.
Ashton Kutcher also has had a thriving career in recent years. He followed up That 70s Show by hosting Punk’d and starring in Dude, Where’s My Car?. In 2004 he played the lead in the psychological thriller The Butterfly Effect which showed off his versatility as an actor. Since then he has starred in Two and a Half Men, The Ranch, and even played Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in the 2013 biopic Jobs.
Besides films and television shows, Kutcher is also a savvy businessman and has made numerous successful investments. He also helped establish a non-profit called Thorn which is dedicated to stopping the scourge of child exploitation and pornography across the globe.
After hitting it off in real life, Kutcher and Mila Kunis got married in 2015.
Danny Masterson aka Hyde went on to play Rooster in the Netflix series The Ranch alongside former co-star Ashton Kutcher. Masterson is also a devout Scientologist. He married actress Bijou Phillips in 2011 and the two have since had a daughter together.
Masterson unfortunately has gotten himself into quite a bit of trouble recently. On June 17, 2020, he was charged with the rape of three women in the early 2000s. If convicted, he faces up to 45 years in prison.
After playing Donna, Laura Prepon went on to become an actress in high demand. She landed her first post 70s show role in 2002 Slackers and followed that up by starring on shows like How I Met Your Mother, October Road, and Orange Is the New Black.
Although he will always be best known as Fez, Wilmer Valderrama followed up his tenure on That 70s Show by hosting the MTV series Yo Momma in 2006. That same year he signed on to provide the voice of Manny on the popular kids show Handy Manny. He is currently part of the main cast of NCIS where he plays Special Agent Nick Torres.
Welp, here we are yet again at the end of another facts-packed video. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed catching up with the cast of That 70s Show. And yes, we’re still holding out for that tentative reunion special. Although we’re pretty sure that Hyde won’t be getting an invitation – especially if he winds up spending the rest of his days in prison.
Anyways, we’d love to hear from you. Who’s your favorite That 70s Show cast member? Drop us a line with your pick in the comments section below.
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