How ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ Inspired Ashton Kutcher’s New Role

by Caitlin Berard

In addition to his guest role in the upcoming That ’70s Show spinoff, That ’90s Show, Ashton Kutcher has a small but important part in the new murder mystery Vengeance, directed and written by The Office star B.J. Novak, who also serves as the film’s main character.

The film follows New York City journalist and podcaster Ben Manalowitz (Novak), who travels down south to investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of his girlfriend. Upon his arrival in West Texas, he meets a variety of interesting and unfamiliar characters, including the rebellious cowboy with a dark side, Quentin Sellers (Kutcher).

While the film does have some serious themes, it’s chiefly a dark comedy, which allowed Ashton Kutcher to bring a bit of his signature humor to the character. In contrast to the New York journalist with his tweed blazers and checked button-downs, Ashton Kutcher’s West Texas iconoclast wears an off-white suit topped with a cowboy hat and mustache.

‘Vengeance’ Star Ashton Kutcher Reveals the Inspiration for His Character’s Style

In a recent interview with USA Today, Kutcher revealed that his iconic Vengeance outfit was his own creation, put together with inspiration from a favorite classic TV character from his childhood.

“I used to watch a lot of Dukes of Hazzard as a kid,” he explained. “And Boss Hogg used to wear these white suits. So I liked the idea of this character having this pseudo-angelic look. He’s a guy who has taken his own perspective one step too far.”

For Ashton Kutcher, the draw of Vengeance came both in the opportunity to recreate a beloved character and bring a stellar script to life. “This was the best screenplay I’ve read in a decade,” he said. “It captured exactly the state of America right now. It’s a movie about really trying to listen to one another, and not being so quick to judge.”

Why Texas Was Chosen as the Setting for ‘Vengeance’

Like many movies and TV series, the setting of Vengeance is its own character. And for director B.J. Novak, there was no better fit for the role than Texas.

Unlike his character, B.J. Novak is from Massachusetts, not NYC. That said, he’s just as unfamiliar with the south and wanted to feel as out of place as possible in his choice.

Technically, any southern state could have served the same jarring purpose for the main character. Texas, however, has a mystique that simply can’t be replicated.

“Texas is like the celebrity of states,” Novak explained. “It’s so mythical, so I knew it would add a whole other element to the movie. The Alamo is the foundational myth of Texas, and it’s about a loss. And that loss is a call for vengeance.”