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Given the date that the news broke, the headline declaring that Ashton Kutcher has been cast in an independently produced biopic of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs was met with an initial skepticism, a wide-spread certainty that a Hollywood publicist was playing an April Fools’ Day prank. But once confirmation that, indeed, the man most famous for his goofy blockhead role in That 70’s Show will be portraying the tech genius, reaction came fast and, for the most part, with quite mixed sentiment.
Passion for Jobs runs high on the web, in both Apple-dedicated news sites and forums, as well as in more broadly focused tech news sites. Certain facts were accepted in the online discussions about the casting:
– Kutcher is himself a star of sorts in the web world, an investor and advocate of various start-ups and a frequent speaker at various new media conferences.
– There can be little doubt that, at least appearance-wise, he resembles a young, hippie Jobs; that the movie will trace Jobs’ younger, wandering spirit days of wild hair and a wardrobe that stretches beyond black turtlenecks also works in Kutcher’s favor.
– Kutcher has played a number of dramatic roles, including in The Butterfly Effect, so he can at least push the bounds of comedy.
For some, that was enough to give the star the benefit of the doubt before the film even begins shooting.
“People need to get the Punk’d/Michael Kelso image out of their head for a minute and be open-minded to this choice,” a user named Savor wrote in the discussion thread on MacRumors.com. “I remember when people scoffed at Heath Ledger portraying The Joker. The guy from 10 Things I Hate About You. But he surprised all of us with that role and won an Oscar for it after his death. Not saying Kutcher will step up his game at that level. It is only an indie film. But like another poster mentioned, he might need a talented director and writer to push him to another level.”
A user named breising concurred, adding a personal note to the conversation.
“Having sat for breakfast with Steve in Hawaii the day he rolled out the Mac and listening to him string along the ‘reporters’ that were bugging him about what was going to happen I can imagine Ashton playing the part very well,” breising wrote. “I think they have the same sense of personal space and humor. Very direct with a slight mischievousness.”
User cmvsm wasn’t convinced, though.
“Bad choice. Kutcher may look like Jobs from a certain perspective, but his acting absolutely tanked a top rated Two and a Half Men show. He’s also typically type casted as a goofy, comedic type in just about everything he has done. They should have gone after Noah Wyle again, who played Jobs in the Pirates of Silicone Valley in 1999. He looks like Jobs to an extent, and did a great job with Steve’s mannerisms in that particular movie.”
Over at Apple Insider, commenter Smallwheels threw some other names into the debate.
“Though this is an April Fools joke it is an interesting question to ask regarding who would be a good Steve Jobs impersonator. Ashton Kutcher is OK for some roles but not this one. Tom Cruise might have been mentioned as a joke but honestly he is a great actor… Which male actor would be willing and able to go from a healthy weight to a gaunt look for a role? Tom Hanks did it for a movie but he’s too old to pull this off. I agree that Noah Wylie comes off weak.”
Other users suggested Christian Bale for the role.
“On a more serious note, Bale would be awesome,” user GTR wrote. “He’s got talent, is a character chameleon, and has that ‘do not f–k with me’ aura that Jobs had.”
At CNet, the reaction was equally mixed.
“I don’t want to suggest that this means he can play Jobs well, but if you want to see that Kutcher can act, I suggest watching The Butterfly Effect,” wrote ScorpioKing1990. “It is one of my favorite movies and it makes NO SENSE that Ashton Kutcher plays the lead role….but somehow he pulls it off, really, really well in my opinion and now I can’t picture it any other way… Based on this performance alone, I will reserve my judgement and give him a chance… But it IS odd.”
A user named lkrupp, on the other hand, was indifferent, and not just because of the casting.
“I wouldn’t care to watch it as I have read and experienced all I ever need to know about Steve Jobs.. and I’m a certified fanboy,” they wrote.
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