The life, rise and death of technology genius Steve Jobs are a scriptwriter’s dream.
Kutcher, 35, had an opportunity to meet Jobs personally in early 2011, but the meeting did not happen because the actor was filming the TV series Two and a Half Men, in which he stars.
Jobs died of cancer in October 2011 at age 56.
“I wanted to make sure whoever played him cared about him. And I loved him. I loved the man!” Kutcher, a self-declared computer and technology geek, said when the film was screened recently in San Francisco.
“I’ll never forget where I was the day I heard that Steve Jobs passed away,” he said.
Kutcher says he was very much struck by the news and that he needed to stop his car by the side of the road.
Despite the Hollywood star’s passion, critics were initially sceptical. Could one entrust a TV lightweight with such a complex role, even if he admittedly does look like the young Jobs?
Kutcher prepared himself meticulously for the part. He carefully studied Jobs’ tastes, appearances and addresses and met with people who knew the tech guru. He went on long walks barefooted, just as the Jobs was known to do since his student days.
The similarities, from Jobs’s slightly hunched walk to his tone of voice, are indeed striking.
Director Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote) goes chronologically from the early 1970s to 2001.
The film tells of the long-haired, bearded college dropout on LSD trips and trips to India, during sex and meditation. It follows Jobs’ tough years in the family garage in Los Altos, California, the first “headquarters” of Apple. And it portrays his rise to become a billionaire, his Apple exit and later comeback as the company’s unchallenged leader.
Stern takes no risks: Jobs is a conventional biopic. It is entertaining but contains none of the visionary, lofty thoughts that made the real-life Jobs the man he was.
But the film is more than an uncritical tribute to the geek who changed the world. In one scene, the young computer nerd kicks out his pregnant girlfriend, and he is later shown as a quick-tempered boss who fires close aides and abandons his friends.
“You’re good, damn good. But you’re an asshole,” one superior at the firm Atari tells the ambitious Jobs, barefoot and unkempt even at work.
Stern spoke in San Francisco of the lesson he learnt while shooting the film: “You could be very flawed and a socially difficult person, but you can still come out from that garage and make great things.”
The director shot scenes in original Silicon Valley settings, and even outside the legendary garage where Jobs’s then-friend and co-founder, engineer Steve Wozniak, developed the first Apple products.
Kutcher dominates the film. In supporting roles, Dermot Mulroney plays Apple co-founder Mike Markkula, Matthew Modine is chief executive John Sculley, and Josh Gad plays Wozniak.
Jobs might not be Hollywood’s definitive take on a man Kutcher describes as “very charismatic, an extraordinary showman, very intelligent, creative and inspirational.”
Sony Studios is planning a film based on Jobs’s authorized biography, by author Walter Isaacson.
Over a period of two years, Isaacson interviewed his already ailing subject more than 40 times. Aaron Sorkin – who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for the Facebook film The Social Network – has set his sights on that Jobs script.