“jOBS,” starring “Two and a Half Men” actor Ashton Kutcher as the tech and computer entrepreneur who revolutionized the way people listen to music and built Apple Inc into an international powerhouse, got a red carpet roll-out at the Sundance Film Festival ahead of hitting U.S. theaters on April 19.
“jOBS” chronicles 30 defining years of the late Apple chairman, from an experimental youth to the man in charge of one of the world’s most recognized brands. It is the first of two U.S. feature films about Jobs, who died in 2011 at age 56.
“Everybody has their own opinion about Steve Jobs, and they have something invested in a different part of his story. So the challenge is to decide what part of his story to tell, and not disenfranchise anybody,” director Josh Stern told Reuters ahead of the screening.
“Hazarding a guess and venturing into too much speculation is always dangerous, especially with a character who is so well-known,” Stern added.
The film, co-starring Josh Gad and Dermot Mulroney, begins with Jobs the dreamer, the poet and the occasional drug user in college, and his initial ideas for Apple Computers, before his vision took on a life of its own.
Much of the drama is based around the early 1980s, and Jobs’ ideologies for the Apple Lisa and Macintosh computers, which ended up performing poorly for the company and led to Jobs being fired.
Kutcher’s Jobs is seen as the rock star of the tech world, admired but misunderstood in his early days as he constantly tried to think outside of the box and bring a notion of “cool” to his brand.
The audience on Friday warmly applauded the film following the screening.
In a question-and-answer session after the screening, Kutcher took to the stage to talk about his preparations of mastering Jobs’ posture, hand gestures and eccentricities, saying his “painstaking research” included watching more than 100 hours of footage of the Apple innovator.
Notably missing from the film are details about Jobs’ personal life – his court settlement with the mother of his first child features only in the backdrop of the 1980s, a time when he struggled to gain support from the Apple board for his visions.
Stern told the audience that he deliberately stayed away from the CEO’s personal life, saying the film was “not about getting mired in some of the soap opera” of Jobs’ life.
Kutcher, 34, told Reuters on the red carpet before the screening that he was honored to play Jobs but also terrified because of the former Apple chairman’s iconic status.
“To be playing a guy who so freshly is in people’s minds, where everywhere you go you can run into people who met him or knew him or had seen a video of him … that’s terrifying because everyone is an appropriate critic,” Kutcher told Reuters.
Hours before the screening, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said the movie appeared to misrepresent aspects of both his own and Jobs’ personalities and their early vision for the company.
Wozniak was commenting after seeing a brief clip of an early scene that was released online on Thursday.
“Totally wrong. … The ideas of computers affecting society did not come from Jobs,” Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with Jobs and Ronald Wayne in a California garage in 1976, told technology blog Gizmodo.com.
“The lofty talk came much further down the line,” Wozniak said in a series of emails.
“Book of Mormon” star Gad, who plays Wozniak, told Reuters on Friday’s red carpet that the filmmakers had tried to reach out to him to get his input on “jOBS,” but that Wozniak was “participating in another project about Steve Jobs.”
Wozniak is tied to a movie based on Walter Isaacson’s official biography “Steve Jobs,” being developed by screen writer Aaron Sorkin of “The West Wing” and “The Social Network” fame. No release date or casting has been announced.
Kutcher said he hoped Wozniak would look more kindly on the movie when he had seen the whole two hours.
“I hope that when he sees the film, he feels that he was portrayed accurately, that the film accurately represents who he was and how he was, and more importantly, inspires people to go and build things,” he said.
(Additional reporting By Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles; editing by Philip Barbara)