Mossberg says movie doesn’t show the Steve Jobs he knew, as leaked emails take us behind the scenes
Writing in his column in The Verge, Walt Mossberg – who says he spent “scores of hours” in conversation with Steve Jobs across 14 years – says that the man depicted in the Sorkin/Boyle movie is not the Steve Jobs he knew.
Steve Jobs wasn’t perfect. He was difficult. He was unnecessarily rude and brusque at times. He lied. But he also mellowed and grew as a person, and that mellowing coincided with the best part of his career. Mr. Sorkin opts to hide all of that from his audience. The best of the real Steve Jobs begins to unfold just as Steve Jobs ends.
A lengthy piece in Hollywood Reporter earlier this month – leaning heavily on emails leaked from the Sony hack – provides a lot of insight into what was going on behind the scenes in the run up to the making of the movie. This included the fact that Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures, knew from the start that the project was going to be challenging …
“Fasten two seat belts,” she warned in a prescient early email. “Its [sic] gonna be more than bumpy.”
She later passed on the movie when the filmmakers wanted more money than Sony was prepared to spend, a decision she later described as a huge mistake.
We use numbers as an excuse not to make a movie to the outside world not between us. This is the second time in my career I let past performance of the current state of things corrupt my thinking and feeling about a movie. I have made other kinds of mistakes but not like this.
Producer Scott Rudin was apparently not a fan of Pascal’s handling of things.
“You’ve behaved abominably,” the producer emailed Pascal toward the end of their dealings on Steve Jobs, “and it will be a very, very long time before I forget what you did to this movie and what you’ve put all of us through.”
Said Boyle: “I was moved beyond belief by the script, in a way that really surprised me […] I read it, and that was it. I said, ‘I’m in.’ And Rudin said, ‘Are you serious?’ I could hear in his voice, thinking, ‘It can’t be this easy, can it?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I’m as serious as I can get.’ “
Fassbender had initially planned to take some time off, but changed his mind when he saw the script.
Then he learned Rudin and Boyle were interested in having him play Jobs. He knew little about the icon. “I’m not a very techie person,” he says. “I use all the Apple products, but I had no real insight into him.” Still, the script was strong and the character compelling, and he decided to say yes, ditching his intended hiatus.
Sorkin expressed doubts in an email about Fassbender’s suitability for the role, but quickly changed his mind.
“At the time I wrote the email, I was the one person in the world unfamiliar with Michael Fassbender’s work,” he says today. “I hadn’t seen 12 Years a Slave. Hadn’t seen Inglourious Basterds. Hadn’t seen Shame. Hadn’t seen X-Men. I just managed to miss every single Michael Fassbender movie. So I said to Francine Maisler, our casting director, ‘Send me all the Fassbender movies.’ And as soon as I watched them, I was leading the Michael Fassbender parade.”
It was previously reported that Laurene Powell Jobs tried to block the movie. Director Danny Boyle wouldn’t be drawn on this, nor on Cook’s description of such movies as “opportunistic,” limiting his comments to three sentences.
“They haven’t helped,” says Boyle of her and Cook. “There’s been some tough moments. I’m not going to go into them.”
An unnamed Sony executive did, however, go further.
“She reached out; she had a strong desire not to have the movie made. But we said, ‘We’re going to move forward.’ My understanding is, she did call one or two of the actors.” Another source says that Laurene lobbied each major studio in an attempt to kill the project.
While Sorkin has taken some flack over the movie, Steve Jobs was reportedly a fan of the writer.
“First time, he called me because there was an episode of The West Wing that he particularly liked and he called to say so out of the blue,” Sorkin recalls. “The second time, he wanted me to come and tour Pixar in the hope that I would write a Pixar film. And the third time, he asked for my help on a Stanford commencement speech.” (Sorkin obliged, free of charge.)
Sorkin has recently been modest about his role in the latter, claiming that he had merely “fixed some typos.”
The full piece is a very interesting read. The film was released earlier this month in select theaters with a wider release set for this Friday.