Aaron Sorkin on Steve Jobs Biopic: It's 'Like Writing About the Beatles'

3:45 PM PST 05/30/2012 by Gregg Kilday
Steve Jobs and Aaron Sorkin

While the writer admits he's still procrastinating on the project, he says the film will result in "a painting, not a photograph" of the Apple founder's life.

Aaron Sorkin hasn’t decided yet what aspects of Steve Jobs’ life and career he will focus on in the movie he is writing about the late co-founder of Apple, but he does know one thing: He plans to treat Jobs like a hero.

Speaking with Walt Mossberger on Wednesday at the AllThingsD Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Sorkin admitted that he much prefers writing heroic characters, and, in fact, the only antihero he’s ever written was his portrait of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.

Asked by Mossberger where Jobs fits on the antihero/hero continuum, Sorkin said: “He’s a complicated guy. Zuckerberg was, as well. But when I’m writing this movie, I can’t judge this character. He has to be, for me, a hero.”

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At the moment, Sorkin explained, he hasn’t yet zeroed in on what that means for his adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s biography Steve Jobs because he’s still digesting the material, calling it “a process of procrastination,” and saying, “What I’ll do is go through a long period that would not look to any casual observer like writing. It would look a lot like watching ESPN.”

He also confessed that in tackling the subject, he is approaching a “minefield of disappointment.”

“It's a little like writing about The Beatles," Sorkin said. "There are so many people out there that know him and revere him.” But his goal, he said, is to produce “a painting, not a photograph,” since “Steve Jobs is a big enough person and led a big enough life to make multiple movies.”

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No actor has been cast yet. (Ashton Kutcher is playing Jobs in a competing, independent movie.) But Sorkin said whoever is cast “is going to have to be a very good actor.”

Sorkin also dropped some hints about his new TV series, The Newsroom, which bows June 24 on HBO.  “The new show takes place in a fictional newsroom. I want to stress that -- it’s not meant to be MSNBC or Fox or CNN,” he said. “But it is cable news, covering real events that happened in the past. You’ll see that in the pilot episode, that it starts about two years ago."

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