Set to be released just days after the fourth anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death, a new biopic reveals the complicated genius, ruthless ambition and headstrong visionary that was Jobs.
Written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, “Steve Jobs” has received a whirlwind of press attention before even hitting theaters.
“They have not seen the movie, they have not read the screenplay,” Sorkin told a theater filled with tech press on Monday. “I think they’re going to be pleasantly surprised.”
Sorkin, along with Boyle, did a Q&A following the screening in New York City Monday, which also happened to be the anniversary of Jobs’ death.
“Steve Jobs” — which is largely based on Walter Isaacson’s biography — isn’t a traditional biopic in its narrative structure.
Instead, the film is framed around backstage preparations for three product launches: the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1988 and the iMac in 1998. Each represents a pivotal transition in Jobs’ career and shows his interactions with his peers, like Apple(AAPL, Tech30) cofounder Steve Wozniak, ex-Apple CEO John Scully and Joanna Hoffman — one of the original members of the Macintosh team.
The pace and intensity of their conversations illustrated his genius and often ruthless indifference to everyone’s feelings and opinions.
Sorkin and Boyle addressed the tension between these competing personality traits: Can you be a genius and still a decent person?
Their nuanced portrait of Jobs, played by Michael Fassbender, explores how this plays out in reality.
“I think the biggest thing is that we are all a little bit strange,” said Sorkin.
Boyle said examining the inner workings of geniuses like Jobs is a necessity.
“[Jobs] is one the most important figures in our lives and many, many more people’s lives to come,” said Boyle. “These people have to be written about, they have to be examined. … These corporations [that they build] are so powerful and extraordinary in the way they influence our lives.”
“I think Mark invented something that he needed, whether he knew it or not,” said Sorkin. “I think he was very uncomfortable as a 19-year-old sophomore just socializing with people. I think Steve Jobs invented something that he needed, whether he knew it or not.”
Sorkin said he relates to this type of drive. “This is not unfamiliar to me. I write stuff I like, things I think my friends would like.”
Despite criticism from some close to Jobs, Sorkin hopes he might have been a fan of the film, which opens in Los Angeles and New York on Friday.
“I like to think that if this movie were about someone else, that [Jobs] would like it,” said Sorkin. “I think the fact that it defies expectations in terms of the genre, that it’s something a little bit new, I think he would of have appreciated that.”