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Months before Jobs‘ theatrical release, Steve Wozniak — the (other) popular Apple co-founder and computer visionary — began publicly venting his concerns about the indie biopic and worrying that it would gloss over the true story of the company’s early days and Steve Jobs‘ fumbles as a leader.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ashton Kutcher — who portrays Jobs in the Open Road-distributed drama — offered a passionate response, linking Wozniak’s bad buzz to his participation in the research for Sony and Aaron Sorkin‘s upcoming adaptation of Walter Isaacson‘s 2011 biography of the icon.
“A couple things you have to understand. One, Steve Wozniak is being paid by another movie studio to help support their Steve Jobs film, so he’s gonna have an opinion that is connected to that, somewhat,” said Kutcher. “Two, the biggest criticism that I’ve ultimately heard is that he wanted it to be represented — his contribution to Apple — fairly. And, in all fairness, the movie’s called Jobs. And it’s about Steve Jobs and the legacy of Steve Jobs, and so I think it focuses more … on what his contribution to Apple was.”
Jobs, in theaters Aug. 16, co-stars Josh Gad as the levelheaded, delightfully quirky Wozniak to Kutcher’s mercurial, hyper-ambitious Jobs; the late tech great is depicted as Apple’s creativity- and design-obsessed driving force, brazenly leading the way into the future (and firing people who did not uphold the standards of his vision).
Earlier this year, the real-life Woz, who invented the Apple I and II computers during the 1970s, voiced his embarrassment after viewing a clip of a scene where Jobs is shown pitching his future business partner on the untapped potential of the operating system he created.
“Steve is lecturing me about where computers could go, when it was the other way around,” Wozniak told the Los Angeles Times last month. “Steve never created a great computer. In that period, he had failure after failure after failure. He had an incredible vision, but he didn’t have the ability to execute on it. I would be surprised if the movie portrays the truth.”
He provided more feedback in recent interviews with Gawker Media, saying that though he hadn’t seen Jobs, he’s “OK” with Gads’ portrayal but worried the film would depict the younger, pre-iPod Jobs as “a saint who was ignored.”
Kutcher, who prepped for the role by poring through hours of Jobs footage in an effort to nail his voice and distinctive walk and winding up in the hospital after he briefly adopted the entrepreneur’s fruitarian diet, told THR he felt a “huge responsibility to [channel him] to the best of my ability and tell the story honestly and accurately without glorifying or shaming him.”
The film, directed by Joshua Michael Stern, enlisted the knowledge of former Jobs associates like original Apple employee Daniel Kottke, who consulted on the screenplay.
“We showed the film to a bunch of people that were on the original Mac team,” said Kutcher, citing Kotte and Chris Espinosa. “They came to us after watching it and said, ‘If that exact conversation didn’t happen, or didn’t happen exactly that way, we know at some point in time there was something a lot like that that took place.’ And so they felt good about it, and so at the end of the day, I hope [Wozniak] feels the same.”
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