Five Things We Discovered About the New Steve Jobs Movie

4 minute read

When Steve Jobs hits movie theaters on Oct. 9, it will be the second film inspired on the innovator’s life in the space of just two years, on top of two existing biographies, a September documentary by Alex Gibney and a 2017 opera in Santa Fe.

But Steve Jobs will be the most authoritatively credentialed movie portrait by far. In anticipation of the release, Lev Grossman spoke with writer Aaron Sorkin, director Danny Boyle and Jobs actor Michael Fassbender for the Sept. 7 issue of TIME. Here are 5 things we learned:

1. Michael Fassbender will not look like Steve Jobs — and the filmmakers are rolling with it

Fassbender does not share many of Steve Jobs’ well-known features, such as the dark hair and long nose. While Ashton Kutcher shared a striking resemblance with Apple’s cofounder and CEO in the 2013 movie Jobs, Boyle says the creative team of Steve Jobs is going for “a portrait…rather than a photograph.”

“We decided that I didn’t look anything like him, and that we weren’t going to try to make me look anything like him,” Fassbender adds. “We just wanted to try to encapsulate the spirit and make our own thing of it.”

The wardrobes, however, are more historically accurate, with the iconic black turtleneck appearing during the later stage of Jobs’ career.

2. This is not your standard narrative biopic

The movie is broken into three episodes, each depicting one of Jobs’ major product launches: the Macintosh, the 1988 NeXT, and the 1998 iMac. The action of the movie is completely contained within the moments behind the scenes, before Jobs takes the stage.

“It’s not an origin story, it’s not an invention story, it’s not how the Mac was invented,” Sorkin says. “I thought the audience would be coming in expecting to see a little boy and his father, and he’s staring in the window of an electronics shop. Then we would view the greatest hits of Steve Jobs’ life. And I didn’t think I’d be good at that.”

See Steve Jobs’ Legacy in 16 Photos

Apple Announces Launch Of New Tablet Computer
1976 Apple I was Apple's first computer, which became obsolete within a year. Today, they are auctioned off as collector's items.Justin Sullivan—Getty Images
Steven Jobs
1977 Apple II was the follow up to the Apple I computer. Apple II proved highly successful and spawned several variations.Ralph Morse—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Apple computer Chrmn. Steve Jobs (R) and technician w. new LISA computer during press preview.
1983 Lisa was Apple's office computer that was the first personal computer to use a graphical user interface. It was a commercial flop, largely because it retailed for a whopping $10,000. Ted Thai—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Steve Jobs ist tot
1991 NeXT Station was a workstation computer manufactured by NeXT, a computer company Steve Jobs founded in 1985 after he was forced out of Apple. After Apple acquired NeXT in 1996, Jobs rejoined Apple. Kristy MacDonald—dapd/AP
Pixar's Toy Story 1995 text
1995 Pixar's Toy Story was the film studio's first feature film in 1995. Pixar had spun out from a larger graphics corporation in 1986 with funding from Steve Jobs. Alan Dejecacion—Getty Images
Foreign media photograph and film the new Apple Co
1998 The iMac was originally released in 1998, and it was the first Mac computer to have a USB drive but no floppy disk. Many media outlets heralded it as a game changer. Over two million were sold in two years. John G. Mabanglo—AFP/Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: Farewell In 2011
1999 The iBook was a line of laptop computers designed for use in schools. The computer, called the "iMac to go," was a huge hit with several upgrades over the years. Ted Thai—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
San Francisco Ca Steve Jobs Apple's Interim CEO Introduces The Macintosh
1999 The Power Mac G3 was a personal computer in the Power Macintosh line. Its upgraded hardware meant it was faster than most other computers on the market. Alan Dejecacion—Getty Images
Apple Unveils iPad 2
2001 Apple opened its first Apple Stores in 2001, with the original two stores in Virginia and California. On the opening day, thousands of Apple fans stood in line and collectively spent over half a million dollars. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images
Apple Launch iTunes Music Store In London
2003The iTunes Store is Apple's online digital media store that redefined the music purchase experience and became a runaway success within years. By 2008, it had become the largest music vendor in the U.S. Ian Waldie—Getty Images
Steve Jobs at MacWorld
2001The iPod followed the release of iTunes and other consumer-facing software. It offered data storage and a sleek design, and soon became the nation's go-to portable music player. Gabe Palacio—Getty Images
Steve Jobs Launches Annual MacWorld Expo
2006 Macbook Pro was Apple's first computer to use Intel Core processors, replacing PowerBook computers. The Macbook Pro line is Apple's latest laptop collection. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images
Apple CEO Steve Jobs Delivers Opening Keynote At Macworld
2005 The Mac Mini was Apple's first consumer-targeted computer to ship without a display, keyboard or mouse, intended to minimize the space taken by a desktop computer.Justin Sullivan—Getty Images
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs unveils
2007 The first iPhone was released after years of speculation that Apple would produce a smartphone. It was known for its large touch screen and finger-touch method, as opposed to using a stylus. It was marketed under the slogan "This is only the beginning." Tony Avelar—AFP/Getty Images
Apple Unveils New Software For iPhone And iPad
2008 The App Store is Apple's online marketplace for downloading and developing apps. It was released alongside its iPhone 3G, and both proved to be massive successes. The App Store logged over 10 million downloads on the first weekend.Justin Sullivan—Getty Images
Apple Announces Launch Of New Tablet Computer
2010 The iPad is an Apple tablet computer that met mixed reviews, as users were not sure if it was intended to replace or supplement laptop use, though many praised its ability to connect to WiFi or 3G. That year, the iPad became the leader in the tablet computer market. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

3. Sorkin didn’t just recycle Jobs biographies

Sorkin, the writer behind The Social Network and The West Wing, spoke with many who knew and worked with Jobs — including people who did not cooperate with the book by Walter Isaacson that served as the inspiration for the film.

“I was very lucky to be able to talk to John Sculley, who after he left Apple kind of went into hiding a bit in Florida,” Sorkin says. “There were parts of the record that he wanted to set straight.”

Sorkin also spoke with Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Jobs’ daughter with an ex-girlfriend, who’s a major figure in the film.

4. The movie was shot in San Francisco, despite the sky-high location costs

Boyle shot the movie in separate rounds for each of the three launches — and insisted on shooting on-site in San Francisco, even though the film was set mostly indoors.

“The financiers are going, ‘Well, you could film this in Prague, save $5 million!’” Boyle says. “Which you’d just waste on something else. I mean, this place is the birthplace of the modern world. Unless something else happens, the world for the next 50 years is going to be living through the consequences of this work.”

5. Fassbender and Jobs have some similarities, but the role didn’t come entirely naturally

Differences in in hair color aside, Boyle points to an important trait that Fassbender and Jobs share: “If you’re trying to say, “What’s the thing about him that is Jobsian?” you get in Michael an uncompromisingness about his acting that’s probably the same as what Jobs was like about his work.”

But not all of Jobs’ traits were easily accessible to Fassbender. It turns out the entire technology innovation aspect of the role (which, one could say, is a major part of Jobs’ life) was a mystery to the actor.

“I’m terrible with technology,” he says. “It behaves strangely around me. Things crash all the time. I rejected the mobile phone for so long, until people were like, ‘We can’t get in touch with you. This can’t go on.’”

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