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'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
extraordinary planet, which is the character of Steve Jobs. There are people
that in life who we end up orbiting around; our lives are lived in their
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
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
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
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
film of course to shoot in sequence. But it ultimately lent the performances and
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
preparation. I was lucky that I could bring together Sorkin's script with an
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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'
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
by what this figure has been able to do through his ferocious drive,
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
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
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
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
with a ticking clock in a clearly defined space. Also, I thought it would be a
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
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
"You can do better. Do it again." Three times, four times. In actuality, he
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
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
to find a certain perfection that can't exist in life, and that's exactly what
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
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
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."
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
Steve Jobs' idea was that computers should be for the mainstream, not only
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.
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
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
parts of this personality that were cruel? Maybe. Is it necessary to berate
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
qualities into his storytelling. The energy he brings to the camera is
important for a piece like this-it's essentially people talking quite a bit for
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
changes the rhythm. He respects it, but there are holds brought in. He
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
natural-that's the way Aaron writes. Later in rehearsal, I asked Jeff's advice
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
wanted to prove to himself, and I think just himself, that he had nailed it. He
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
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
starts at the top, and everybody is proud to be here because of you." He's such
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
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
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
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
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.
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