Navigation Bar - Text Links at Bottom of Page


Production Information
Talk about what went through your mind when you got Aaron Sorkin's script and read it for the first time. What was it about the screenplay that made you want to make this movie?

I read the script and felt I'd be crazy not to do it. It took my breath away. I felt I'd never done anything like it before. The challenges of it-how self-contained it was, what a breathless exercise in language it was-were immensely appealing to me. At the same time the character of Steve Jobs that Aaron created-the Steve who exists in the script, who overlaps in some ways with the historical figure and in other ways doesn't-was hugely appealing to me. He's a character of Shakespearian proportions. He's mesmerising and brutalising and entertaining. I saw in Sorkin's screenplay a lot of people in orbit around this extraordinary planet, which is the character of Steve Jobs. There are people like that in life who we end up orbiting around; our lives are lived in their reflection in some way, and we're unable to break away from them. They have a gravitational pull. They are people who inspire devotion. That's a fascinating kind of character to examine. There are people in this character's life who are clearly deeply devoted to him. Other characters regard him as a monster. And, in a sense, he is a monster made beautiful by language...and by two women.

You have said the film isn't a biopic and that it's not an attempt to recount a rigidly factual history of Jobs' life, but you still depict actual, real-life figures. What elements of the real figures-of Steve Jobs, and of the various members of his team-did you incorporate into the story?

We're deeply indebted to Walter Isaacson's book and the depth of his research, but we wanted the movie to be a different kind of journey. Sorkin describes the film as an "impressionistic portrait." There are ideas that clearly come out of real life, but the film is an abstraction. It takes events-some of them real, some of them imagined-and pushes them into three acts, structured around the launches of the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXTcube in 1988, and the iMac in 1998. Six characters turn up three times, 40 minutes before each product is launched, and just bang on each other. That's not real life; it's a heightened version of real life.

Sorkin's script is about so much more than Steve Jobs as a person. He's changed one of the most precious and vital things in our lives, which is the way we communicate, the way we interact with each other-and yet many of his personal interactions were deeply dysfunctional. The movie is about teams as well-and by that, I mean it's about a person who was able to propel individuals and groups to create. There's a wit and humour to our character of Steve, and an understanding of how people love finding someone who inspires them to push themselves. He was almost crazy in his determination to transform people. Before filming, you budgeted time for extensive rehearsal periods and you rehearsed and filmed each act separately, in sequence. Can you talk a little bit about why you landed on that strategy and in what ways the finished film, and the performances, benefited from that?

One of the extraordinary things about Aaron's language is the rhythm of it, the propulsion of it, and I was excited to see actors speak the language, but I also knew that it would be very challenging for them.

Because there are three launches, we concentrated on one part at a time, rehearsing and then filming each act separately, and in sequence. It's very rare in film of course to shoot in sequence. But it ultimately lent the performances and the story a kind of momentum. It allowed the actors to commit themselves to that one act and to concentrate on the way they would look, sound and feel at that period in their character's life. It allowed them to take pause and take stock.

The actors are always in motion, through each of these acts. Of course that's partly because these people are in the midst of final preparations for a launch, and there is last-minute business to be taken care of, but it is also very intentional because it was part of Jobs' philosophy. He would walk and talk. He didn't want to sit around having boring meetings. He always wanted to walk and talk because it lent a certain momentum to the undertaking, whatever it may have been. We approached rehearsal and filming in a way that I hoped would liberate the actors physically; I didn't want to create spaces on set that were confined, but rather provide a sense of freedom and openness. I didn't want the actors to have to worry too much about where they were standing, where they were going. At the beginning of rehearsal, we let everyone move where they wanted. Gradually, as we approached the day of shooting, we found our way into blocking the scenes. The freedom of movement that we were going for was also helped hugely by our use of Steadicam, which is usually reserved for action sequences or chase scenes. The Steadicam lent itself to that sense of perpetual motion and freedom. Our Steadicam operator, Geoff Healey, is an artist, and along with Alwin Kuchler's lighting, his work allowed us to build wonderful, flowing scenes as the actors moved through the three spaces and acts.

Why did you decide to shoot the entire film in San Francisco?

San Francisco is the Bethlehem of the Digital Age, the home of the second Industrial Revolution. I come from the north of Britain, Manchester, which is known as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. And just like that place, San Francisco is saturated with its own history and its own myth. I identified immediately with the idea of making this film in San Francisco. You hope the film, by some kind of osmosis, picks something up from that. I've long felt that if you honour the place you're making the film about, it will reward you...through your own and the actors' understanding and appreciation of it. There were also people who were at the original three launches that we met by arrangement or by accident during production.

You markedly differentiate the three spaces in your three acts. Why? Yes. What was appealing to me about the script in the first place was the challenge of how do I present these three backstage scenes as dynamically, and with as much tension, as possible? And we decided on three different locations, each of which lent something particular-some particular feeling, a particular story-to each of the acts.

How did you settle on the Flint Auditorium as the location for the Macintosh launch in Act One?

The Flint Auditorium at De Anza Community College, in the heart of Cupertino, was where the actual Macintosh launch in 1984 took place. That stage was where Steve Jobs unveiled the Macintosh that day. So we were standing in his footsteps, literally. We filmed the first act on 16mm because it felt rough-edged, homemade and basic in what is a simple, functional theatre. It has almost a punk-ish energy to it...the early days of the launches. Act One, the Mac launch, is our modern day creation-myth. It's Steve Jobs conjuring the future of computing-the first truly personal computer, the first humane computer-out of nothing. For the first time, someone thought to create a computer that felt a part of you. As Steve says in the movie, up to that point, in 1984, Hollywood had made computers scary things, but he wanted to make them feel like they belonged to you. Though clearly the time was not ready for that, because it didn't work yet; he only achieved that later. Why did you choose the San Francisco Opera House as the location for the second act? What was it about the Opera House that made it a fit for this part of the story, around the NeXT launch?

You can debate to what extent Steve Jobs, in real life, set out to make the NeXT computer as an act of revenge against Apple, but ultimately the NeXT operating system was his way back into Apple. He was able to sell NeXT to Apple when Apple was in need of a new operating system, and an operating system is exactly what NeXT had to offer. Jobs was able to take something from NeXT that is still at the core of the operating systems of all Apple products out there now.

We wanted the location to reflect this feeling of operatic revenge, which is why we chose the Opera House, with its velvet curtains and gilt edges. Act Two demanded a more indulgent, almost romantic, feel. We shot this act on 35mm, which is kind of liquid, beautiful, smooth-certainly compared to the 16mm of the first part. The design, the camera movement, the score-all of it is meant to describe a kind of revenge play. We wanted the audience to gradually wake up to the sort of clockwork of Steve's revenge plan, as it reveals itself in the course of the act. Everything builds toward revenge in this act; that is what's underneath every move in it, up to the climactic confrontation between Steve and John Sculley at the act curtain.

What considerations-in the design, the cinematography-went into your strategy for the third act, around the iMac launch?

The third act is much more about the future, the clean lines of communication and our modern control of data. The iMac truly introduced the Internet into our daily lives. We shot this act at the futuristic Davies Symphony Hall in downtown San Francisco. And we shot it on the ALEXA-a modern, digital camera, which has almost infinite pixels and resolution. We're moving into endless possibilities in the third act, which is what Jobs' return to Apple, and the iMac-the inaugural product of his return-signified.

We've discussed the philosophy behind your extensive rehearsal periods, but can you talk about your process with Michael Fassbender? What was it in him that made you believe he was the one who could breathe life into this character?

I've never worked with an actor who went on such a journey as Michael did or had such ferocity of commitment. Not once did I see him look at a script or sides, and he had Hamlet-, Lear-like lines to recite every single day. He absorbed the script in a way that had nothing to do with rote learning. It was never a question of remembering, "Do I say this now?" He knew that script like he'd written it, which lent his performance a force that made it seem he was capable of creating something in front of you out of virtually nothing. I always thought there is something very Jobsian in Michael. He has that quality in him, which is this incredible intensity about the application of what he's doing. He's an intimidating actor, truly. But he has great wit, thank God. Because it is a witty script and Michael mines the humour of it with incredible detail and comedy when he wants to. But he's ferociously intimidating in his application, and he showed that in his preparation. I was lucky that I could bring together Sorkin's script with an actor like that; my job was to make sure that nothing hindered it.

Kate Winslet undergoes something of a transformation in her role as Joanna Hoffman. Can you talk a little bit about how she approached this role?

Well, you get Fassbender, you better get someone equally gifted to work with him. And we did. Kate is extraordinary. She's uniquely talented, of course, but I never realised how comprehensive her approach was. She is a great partner to have on a film set and is restlessly positive about all elements of the filmmaking, even reorganising the extras between takes! Joanna Hoffman is the gatekeeper and the healer who tries to organise this impossible man, and Kate brilliantly lived that role in every detail-whether it was on the set or in the story.

Like Michael, Kate absorbed the language of the script with an avidity that made it look easy. Great actors-the musicality of Sorkin's writing is just like flesh and blood to them. They just go for it; they can feel it straight away, and you can hear it straight away. It's very like listening to a great musician- you just give them a bit of Mozart, and they'll just run away with it. Sorkin was deeply influenced by his time and his conversations with the real Joanna Hoffman, and he made her character a pivotal person in the script, even though she only gets a few pages in Walter's book. In our story, it's her story, too. Joanna ultimately realises her own guilt for not having forced Steve to fix his relationship with Lisa before she goes off to college. That's what makes it a moving piece of writing and a wonderful performance by Kate; she realises her own complicity in that.

Can you speak a little bit about Seth Rogen's approach to the role of Steve Wozniak?

It was beyond valuable having the real Steve Wozniak around during rehearsal to talk to us about his experience with Jobs, and with Apple. Seth had the essence of Woz, right from the beginning. I can't verbalise it; there's something in Seth's performance that reaches to the root of Woz's character. As you are sometimes lucky to find with very funny people, there's a very serious and ambitious and instinctive and skilled actor in there as well.

Woz believes that you can be decent and gifted at the same time, and that's an idea that runs like a golden thread through the film. Woz's cross to bear in the course of the story is that he's trying to get Steve to acknowledge the importance of the past-he's trying to get Steve to countenance that the past plays an important role in the process of creation, just as innovation does. But Steve only has a mind for one thing: innovation. For Steve there is only the future, where he's aiming. What Woz says is, yes, innovation has a role in creation, but creation also depends on the people who come before you. You are always standing on someone's shoulders, and the grace to observe that allows you to count yourself amongst them. That his best friend in the world, and the man with whom he dreamt up the personal computer, cannot acknowledge this causes him tremendous conflict. Seth delivers the endless optimism and anguish of this friendship beautifully.

What story does the score tell in each of the acts? Can you speak a little bit about your, and composer Daniel Pemberton's, approach to the score?

The first act was influenced by the early sounds of computers. The vast majority of the audience-and this is more and more the case with every year that passes-are digital natives. They don't remember what it was like in the early days of the digital revolution, at the birth of a digital sound that-at that time- seemed almost futuristic. That notion interested me, and Daniel made use of that sort of retro sound beautifully.

There are two musical movements in the second act. One is a kind of light opera-the allegro at the beginning, which is lighthearted and almost whimsical. The second movement is also operatic, but has more weight as the act heads toward its muscular conclusion. This act is also intercut with a number of scenes that Sculley and Jobs had together over the intervening years. The third act is very sparse but elegant. It's stripped back and simple...a bit like Jobs' products.

Steve at one point in the film compares his role to that of a conductor, the analogy being that, while he's not a musician and doesn't play an instrument, his job isn't to play an instrument-his job is to play the orchestra. Can you elucidate what he means by that?

Jobs was not an engineer or programmer. His skills as an engineer were very basic, but he was able to synthesise all these other abilities. That's what you do as a director, actually. I don't understand cameras or lighting in the way a department head or a specialist in one of those fields understands those things. I certainly can't make a costume, but I do (hopefully) synthesize the abilities of all these experts.

What do you hope people take away from the film?

I hope when audiences see the film they will see how the world has been changed by what this figure has been able to do through his ferocious drive, intelligence, insane dedication, and passion-but also the costs incurred on a personal level. For all his visionary genius, a measure of real self-knowledge and humanity arrives only when he comes to understand that he himself is poorly made.

In the end, I can't tell you what to make of our film any more than Steve Jobs can tell you what to write on your iPad! As a storyteller, you want to work on something beautiful if you can, and then you want to give it to people, and then the beauty and the terror of this job is it's up to them what they find in it.

How did you approach Walter Isaacson's biography "Steve Jobs" as source material for this film? And how close do you think the cinematic character of Steve Jobs comes to the real Steve Jobs?

At its heart, the book "Steve Jobs" is a piece of long-form journalism by a world-class journalist-Walter is the former head of CNN and the former managing editor of TIME. Walter's obligation was to be objective. Mine is to be subjective; my concern is art. This is my interpretation of a complicated man and his tangential relationships. All who collaborated on the film, in turn, added subjective interpretations-Danny Boyle, Michael Fassbender, production designer Guy Dyas, composer Daniel Pemberton, editor Elliot Graham and dozens of others.

Danny and I were adamant that we weren't looking for a Steve Jobs impersonation, a Steve Wozniak impersonation, a John Sculley impersonation. As I've said, Steve Jobs announces itself early on as being a painting and not a photograph. The only event that took place in the same real-world setting was the Macintosh launch, when they couldn't get the Mac to say "Hello" to the stockholders. The other two launches did take place, but in different locations, and I'm sure they played out very differently than how I imagined. All of the events that swirl around those launches are my conflation of the conflicts I selected to represent from Steve's life, condensed into 40-minute real-time acts.

I hope the impression left is one of an intensely complicated and brilliant man- deeply flawed, but who, nonetheless, dreamed big and galvanized others to great effect. Ultimately, I hope viewers will find him to be human-and someone who probably could have been happier if he didn't think that kindness and genius were binary.

Can you talk about the unique structure of the film? How does it allow you and Danny Boyle to tell the story you wanted to tell? And how did your very specific rehearsal process figure into the storytelling process?

I'm more naturally a playwright. I'm most comfortable in claustrophobic places, with a ticking clock in a clearly defined space. Also, I thought it would be a more interesting ride if this somewhat monolithic character was observed during three watershed moments in his career. So, I proposed this approach to the studio, and I was given the go-ahead.

In going through Isaacson's book-and also in speaking with Steve Wozniak, Joanna Hoffman, John Sculley, Andy Hertzfeld, Lisa Jobs, and Chrisann Brennan-I identified five key interpersonal conflicts in Steve's life and found ways to play them out at these product launches. All of my thoughts are conjecture based equally on Walter's book and the material I gathered through personal interviews with Steve's colleagues and family.

The resulting 182-page screenplay is built out of dialogue. This might have seemed like an impenetrable jungle of a challenge to most directors, but Danny Boyle eagerly embraced it. He took these words and embedded them in something incredibly cinematic and visually fascinating. He can take something as seemingly benign as debugging a voice demo program and shoot it the way other directors would film an action sequence.

We filmed each act as a separate film, chronologically, in different practical locations. Production provided three weeks of rehearsal prior to filming Act One-with subsequent blocks of two weeks of rehearsal each before Acts Two and Three. We felt this gave performers the chance to not just learn the dialogue, but absorb and casualize the language. They learned to live the characters for extended periods of time, well beyond the few seconds a reverse shot or cutaway would take.

In the film, Jobs uses fear, deception, and manipulation, among other things, to achieve the results he is after. How accurate is your depiction of his methods?

Steve genuinely believed that his methods got the best out of the people in his employ. Oftentimes, he'd return a first submission and say, "You can do better. Do it again." After he received a second version, he'd return that and say, "You can do better. Do it again." Three times, four times. In actuality, he never even looked at the first, second, third, fourth versions. His expectation-more often than not, justified-was that whoever it was could do better. That may seem obnoxious, but that's actually a great gift, having someone who spurs you on to your best. He was successful in that regard. But I think some of his unpopular behavior had more to do with his personality than with his initiative to achieve anyone's personal best. While he might have been cognizant of other managerial tactics, he got the results he was after.

Woz has a line in the film, "Your products are better than you are, Brother," and Steve says back, "That's the idea, Brother." Why was it important for you to include such an exchange?

Artists channel a better version of themselves into their creations. We're trying to find a certain perfection that can't exist in life, and that's exactly what Steve is attempting with his products. Steve gets very angry as far back as the '70s, when Woz says, "Computers aren't paintings." To infer what Steve was creating wasn't art infuriated him. His desire to make up for his personal shortcomings with what he brings to the world is a key motivation.

Throughout his life, I believe, Steve always sought control-he intensely disliked not being in control at the beginning of his life-his rocky adoption history created lifelong repercussions. His entire creative life was a crusade to always remain in control, which he felt would ensure that his products would emanate from his better self.

What does this film have to say about the power of one man's vision, and American ambition and entrepreneurship in general?

Steve Jobs may have been one of the last of the great inventors in this country.

He sought to construct what many considered at the time as castles in the air. He developed what came to be called a "reality distortion field," which served him well. He would approach a designer-or a coder, or an engineer-and say, "I want this device to be this big, and I want it to be able to do this."

The designer might counter that in that size, it would not be possible to complete the task; or maybe, if he really wanted it to be able to function as he hoped, it would need to be a different size. His response went something like, "Then you're a philistine-you don't know what you're doing, and I'm going to find someone else who can achieve what I'm requesting." And then ultimately, that designer would pull it off, and accomplish things that everyone else said couldn't be done.

There are a number of times during the movie when the question is asked of Steve, "What exactly is it you do?" He didn't know how to write code. He was neither a trained engineer, nor a computer scientist. There was no one "instrument" in the orchestra that Steve could play...but standing at the lead of a horde of creative minds, he made the perfect conductor.

Walter Isaacson's 570-plus-page biography of Steve Jobs follows the author's works on Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin. What is it about Steve Jobs and his accomplishments that place him in such esteemed company?

Steve Jobs' idea was that computers should be for the mainstream, not only for hobbyists. What he was passionate about from the beginning was this concept of computers being intuitive objects for us to use, as opposed to things that would scare us. This story is important because Steve Jobs changed all of our lives. He changed the way the world works, the way we communicate and interact with one another, how we watch films, how we listen to music and how we buy goods. Somebody who had that sort of influence deserves to be reflected on. Aaron Sorkin writes the way the great Hollywood writers like Wilder and Hecht used to-fast, funny, and smart. What did you think of the script when you first read it?

It was 197 pages of fast-flowing dialogue. Aaron writes to a certain cadence, so I spent a lot of hours by myself working with the script. Thankfully, Danny had the foresight to build in a rehearsal period between the filming of each act, which is very rare; that never happens. I will be eternally grateful, because I would never have been able to film at this pace without that.

Few can argue with Jobs' accomplishments, yet many are swift to point out that not all of his methods were popular, particularly his more Machiavellian tactics. How does he come across to you?

I do think there was a Machiavellian element to Steve Jobs. Were there certain parts of this personality that were cruel? Maybe. Is it necessary to berate people like that? Maybe not...but sometimes the personality and the achievements are interwoven. Sometimes people need provocation and manipulation. I know that, as an actor, directors will sometimes employ the same tactics. If I've been working a lot, my patience levels can definitely shorten, and here's a man that's working many, many hours, back-to-back. I think they were pulling in 20-hour days for three, four weeks straight before the launch of the Macintosh. With any business, if you stand still too long, the competition passes you by. Steve Jobs was very aware of the need to constantly be moving forward. How many days off did the man take in 40 years? I would bet not many. If you have a vision you're trying to realize, and you spend roughly 40 years driving that vision, that's quite the feat. There was an element to Steve Jobs that enabled him to relentlessly drive this vision forward for decades. Sometimes people got trampled along the way.

One of the original Macintosh design team members said that Jobs operated within a "reality distortion field"-meaning, if he said the sky was green for long enough, everyone around him started to believe it was true. Now, it was because of this that he was able to will his idea of personal computers, and how we should relate to them, into existence. Would he have been able to achieve what he achieved without that force of will? I don't know. But they seem to be interwoven-he was a complex human being.

This has to be the longest script Danny Boyle's ever shot. He is known for his great kinetic sense of visual storytelling. What did Danny bring to Sorkin's fast-flowing screenplay?

Danny is positive and encouraging and full of energy. I think he injects the same qualities into his storytelling. The energy he brings to the camera is incredibly important for a piece like this-it's essentially people talking quite a bit for close to two hours. Danny comes from a history of theatre; that's really where he started his apprenticeship, so he understands that world. In a lot of respects, this script is a very theatrical story. A lot of the time, it seems like characters are entering from the wings; you could very easily see this being staged as a play.

It was considered general knowledge inside Apple that only one person could spar with Jobs at his level and sometimes win-head of marketing Joanna Hoffman. What did Kate Winslet bring to her interpretation of the character of Joanna?

I think Joanna had quite an impact on Steve. There's footage of a NeXT retreat after Jobs is ousted from Apple, and you can see that she doesn't pull any punches with him. She keeps him honest, and I think Kate really captures that spirit in her performance. The way it is played in the film, Joanna's the one person that can pull him back. That was a great dynamic for us to work with. She brings all of his humanity out, which I think is in there, in spades; it's just buried. For me, Steve has his guard up a lot of the time-it sometimes verges on the form of, well, almost a disorder. He has a block that makes it nearly impossible for him to be vulnerable or open up emotionally with people. I watched quite a few interviews with him, and I could see this type of armor on at all times. There was this sheen on him.

I have to say, I owe Kate a lot for my own performance. I remember when I arrived at the read-through before we started rehearsal, and she was a fully-fledged character, with this subtle accent-flawless. And I thought to myself, "Oh man, I am screwed!" Her ability as an actor is second to none. When it came to filming with her, we had a lot of fun. We would rely on each other, which is what you want when you're working with a partner-you want to feel supported; you want to feel that you're being provoked the right way; you want to feel that the other person is fluid and responding to what you're doing, as opposed to remaining rigid and not wavering from the choices they've made before they even came into the scene. She's very intuitive, and also very technically brilliant.

Considering Jeff Daniels' past collaboration with Aaron, did he arrive primed to play John Sculley and ready-made for the patented Sorkin pace? What for you was key in understanding the relationship between your character and his?

There's dry, and then there's Jeff Daniels. He has the driest sense of humor I think I've ever come across. What he brought was this incredible intelligence. He's been doing this for a while-he runs a theatre company in Michigan, and he knows all the components of storytelling. What is telling are the little things that he does-in the first act, when Jobs is sipping wine, Sculley's observing him drink it. It's the interesting nuances like that, just little moments that really set things in motion. You can see that there's something in that relationship that's more complex than what's being presented on the surface.

I think Jobs was attracted to Sculley because he came from a world at the other end of the spectrum from Steve's world. Their backgrounds couldn't have been more different. Sculley came from a very privileged East Coast scene-good family, fine education-and in a way, Jobs rebelled against those sorts of things. But deep down, there was a genuine admiration; he looked up to Sculley. You can see that in the way Steve's dressing for the Apple launch-he's trying to emulate John's style.

There is a story that illustrates some of the dichotomies in Steve's relationship with Sculley. When John brought Steve to the Pepsi headquarters, he saw this very plush, very luxurious area of John's that ordinary employees were not allowed to enter. That angered Steve-he couldn't understand this type of segregation within a company. On the other hand, Steve liked the fact that John drove a Mercedes, and that he was stylish and had good taste-that was a big deal for Jobs, who loved beautiful objects and great design. So there was some ambivalence there.

The fact of the matter was that Jobs needed somebody to handle the Board of Apple. As far as the Board was concerned, they respected Steve as a maverick genius of the tech world, but they found him difficult to deal with-they did not see him as CEO material. Steve's thinking was that Sculley could control the Board-he commanded their respect and they held him in authority-but Sculley knew nothing about computers, so Jobs could manipulate him. Obviously, that didn't work out. The Macintosh was the beginning and end of their relationship. The relationship between Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak-played by Seth Rogen-is treated with great nuance in the film. It was obviously very complicated, as creative partnerships often are. How do you see the relationship? And how was working with Seth?

I think Steve really knew that he had met somebody special in Steve Wozniak. He knew that Woz was going to be the vehicle for him to get into the business. I believe that Steve Jobs was a great salesman, a great negotiator, and a great observer of talent. Steve Wozniak was obviously the one with the know-how in terms of really understanding computers and their workings. But could Steve Wozniak really sell the product and market it to the world? Did he possess the overall vision of the true future of personal computing? I'm not sure. I think it's the classic pair, and I think that's why they worked well together. One was the designer-genius in terms of building the Apple II, but he needed a visionary like Steve to take it where it went. For Jobs, it was just the beginning-he could see all of the possibilities down the line, and it excited him. When people came away from conversations with him, they felt like they had been shown the future.

I think every set should have a person like Seth. He is extraordinary and professional. He is so generous, relaxed and easy-going, but also one of the hardest working people I've ever collaborated with. He's an incredible person and extremely easy to work with. He manages to do all of the things that he does, and it seems like he's just chilling-but as we know, he's writing, producing, directing, acting, and he's accomplished at all of it. He brings such humanity and a real honesty to his characters. With Wozniak, he incorporated these tiny mannerisms and folded in these little shadow moves beautifully-like the way he holds his hands-but it never became clunky or self-conscious. I loved working with him. The only challenge to working with Seth is trying not to laugh when you're doing scenes together.

Andy Hertzfeld seemed to be one of the few in Jobs' life who was able to cross the professional/personal boundary-he was a brilliant programmer, one of the original members of the Mac team, as well as someone who considered himself a friend to Steve. What does Michael Stuhlbarg bring to this character?

Michael is a very serious actor. They way production was scheduled, there were breaks in between shooting-so during the breaks, and even throughout the rehearsal periods, he spent a lot of time with Andy Hertzfeld. He was very technical and specific about building his character, and he wanted to absorb as much as he could. If you notice, he's actually the one actor that breaks the rhythm, that Sorkin cadence, a little bit. It's not that he breaks it, really, but he changes the rhythm. He respects it, but there are holds brought in. He definitely brings his own pace with Hertzfeld.

At a point toward the end of the film, Woz says to Steve, "Your products are better than you are, Brother," and Steve says back, "That's the idea, Brother." What do you think is being said there?

Jobs always liked to talk of humans in terms of their efficiency when measured against other animals-the energy they expend in relation to the effect they have. So, let's say a condor is the most efficient animal on the planet, in terms of how far it travels and how much energy is used to get there. Humans are actually quite far down the list, but a human on a bicycle becomes a much more efficient animal. He first read that concept in Scientific American, and it stayed with him-this idea of human beings as tool builders, and that our tools allow us to transcend our limitations and expand our natural capabilities. That's what I layered it with.

When Steve Jobs died, there was a vast outpouring of grief on a global scale. This surprised some people-it was more like the grief you'd expect from the passing of a rock star or a well-respected world leader.

What was it about Jobs that touched people so?

He was definitely a visionary on many levels, not just with regard to the personal computer. Steve envisioned computers as intuitive things with which one could have a personal relationship-as opposed to these scary anonymous Orwellian machines that sit in the corner. Anywhere you go now, people are walking down the street looking at their iPhone-they're recording, photographing, texting, emailing, tweeting. The iPhone, this computer in miniature, is almost like another hand-it's difficult to find a human who doesn't have one attached. I think of it in terms of Henry Ford multiplied by a thousand-what he did has changed the way we live our lives. It's that simple and yet, that far-reaching.

What were your thoughts on the screenplay?

I was reading the script in the middle of December, out in a remote part of Australia, and I knew that if it all came together, I would be in a rehearsal room on the ninth of January in San Francisco. It seemed to be a huge undertaking, and an exciting one. I thought it was a complex script by Aaron Sorkin-it has this very heightened, pressure cooker atmosphere that is created by the intensity and pacing of the writing. I thought it would be a challenging project, and I sincerely wanted to be Michael's wingman for this mammoth journey.

In taking on the role, I was confronted with all of this dialogue, but it all felt very natural-that's the way Aaron writes. Later in rehearsal, I asked Jeff's advice on how to approach the material, since he had worked for years with him. He said, "Learn your lines-just learn your lines. Don't miss a beat; don't try and change a thing. Just learn the lines as they're written on the goddamn page. Don't leave anything to chance-trust me." And he was exactly right.

Could you go into more details on the rehearsal process?

The built-in rehearsal process worked very well-we were allowed the time to put this together. We really rehearsed it into the ground, so by the time it came to shoot each act, we knew all of our lines and exactly what we were doing. It was a luxury and it just went to prove, as is so often the case, that the more homework you actually do, the more room you have to just throw it all away and let the piece reveal itself to you. I don't mean to sound all actor-y, but it really brought everyone together so that we were on the same page-regardless of the size of the role-and we were all in that space together.

The rehearsal rooms had the hallways, rooms, doorways, everything taped out on the floor. Danny would say, "So when you cross that piece of tape, that's going through the first door. That piece of tape is the second door, and when you go into that little box-shaped thing, that's the spiral staircase." The rehearsal time was crucial, because there were massive scenes that went on for 13, 14 pages-which translated into a 10-minute take of continuous dialogue while walking-and if we hadn't known it backwards and forwards, it simply would not have happened. The whole thing would have just unraveled.

So you were able to look at footage of Joanna with Steve and the team, and also had the opportunity to meet with her? Who is the character of Joanna in this film?

The old films were a great resource, because they gave me a proper impression of not only how she looked during those particular periods in time, but also her mannerisms, the way she spoke. She came across as quite a large character, even though, physically, she's quite small, around five-foot-three, I think. But there were these huge gestures, and an incredible warmth and excitability. When I spoke to the real Joanna Hoffman about this character, we were very careful to talk about her in the third person. The character of Joanna is broadly inspired by the real Joanna Hoffman and her stories, but the spirit of her is something I tried to capture and honor. Joanna was amused at the description of her as being Steve's "work wife" in the movie initially, since she was never really that. She said that nobody would pick someone as disorganised and absentminded as her to be anybody's work wife! In truth, there were many strong and capable women who, together, fulfilled that professional role, so Aaron used this character to represent a composite of those women.

What were your thoughts on Michael Fassbender's ability to take on this role?

Michael was a pro-there was no fuss. He just knuckled down, and used his own unique system to get his work done. I distinctly remember all of us coming into the rehearsal room, having filmed Acts One and Two, to start rehearsals for Act Three. For the cold table read, everyone sat around the table and every single actor-myself included-had our scripts in front of us. Michael didn't even get his out of his bag, and it was only because he knew all of his lines and wanted to prove to himself, and I think just himself, that he had nailed it. He was not only setting the bar incredibly high for all of us, but he was also doing as much as he could to cement his own confidence in playing that role.

What were some highlights in terms of working with Danny Boyle?

Danny was unflinching in terms of how he wanted to tell this story as authentically as possible, right down to being in San Francisco. There weren't that many of us cast and crew; it was kept quite small. Often, at night, after the shows were over and the opera singers and the ballet dancers and the musicians had left, we'd sneak into these locations and get a sense of that after-show buzz still in the air. During shooting, I enjoyed the fact that a lot of the filming was going to involve Steadicam-it lends such a fluid quality to the storytelling. It almost felt as though the scenes were between Michael and me, the Steadicam operator and the boom operator.

Right before wrap, I had an opportunity to thank Danny. I found myself saying, "It starts at the top, and everybody is proud to be here because of you." He's such a lovely man, and he made everyone feel included and heard-and that's a big deal for a director to have the ability to make the crew and the actors feel that way.

Can you talk about cultivating your era-specific look in the movie?

I was lucky to be included in the process of putting the look of Joanna together. We poured over as much old footage and images of her as we could find. But also, Joanna herself lent us some of her clothes that she had kept. Speaking with her, she would describe the clothes she wore, even down to details about shoulder pads and a favorite pair of boots, and she told us that because she was "bothered" by symmetry, she took to wearing a single earring, or a purposely mismatched pair. That led us to the idea for the very '80s asymmetrical hairstyle in Act Two. Suttirat Larlarb, our costume designer, had done so much research, and she also had some of her old '80s clothes for inspiration. In Act Three, I really wanted to get the sense of her age, and also the fact that she was a mother- your shape changes after children-and that she had become more maternal overall. The costumer and the makeup designer, Ivana Primorac, shared the idea-I think that's why we added the few gray hairs to take that glossy edge off of the jet-black look we'd had in Acts One and Two.

Next Production Note Section


Home | Theaters | Video | TV

Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.

2018 8,  All Rights Reserved.


Find:  HELP!