The Aaron Sorkin-written and Danny Boyle-directed film, Steve Jobs, hasn't even been released yet, but is already considered one of the top Oscar contenders of the year. Awards season speculators suggest that it might be the only movie that will hold a spot in almost every major category.
But while audiences and critics alike seem pretty happy with Steve Jobs overall, those closest to the namesake of the film are mush less so.
Ever since word of the project was announced, friends and family of the late Apple co-founder have been trying to dissuade fans of Steve Jobs, and Hollywood as a whole, from getting involved with the movie.
According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, allies of Steve Jobs, led by his widow Laurene Powell Jobs and current Apple CEO Tim Cook, banded together in an effort to stop the film from being made. They reportedly consider the film to downplay the accomplishments of the protagonist and paint him in an unattractive light, as "cruel" and "inhumane."
On the Late Show to Stephen Colbert, Tim Cook spoke nothing but flattering words about his predecessor and friend, calling him "an amazing human being" and the film "opportunistic" saying it's "not a great part of our world."
Since the conception of the film four years ago, almost immediately after the death of Steve Jobs in 2011, names such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, and David Fincher have been linked to the movie, but with all three dropping out for various reasons.
A source close to the project told The Hollywood Reporter that Powell Jobs called the two actors and implored they avoid the film and lobbied studios to kill the project. A Sony executive confirmed these claims telling the publication:
She reached out; she had a strong desire not to have the movie made. But we said, 'We're going to move forward.' My understanding is, she did call one or two of the actors.
This isn't the first time the story of Steve Jobs has been brought to the silver screen. However, Steve Jobs is a film adaptation of Walter Isaacson's bestselling biography, which is known to cast a shadow onto the personal and professional life of the tech magnate. Having been allowed unprecedented access and insight into Jobs' life story, Isaacson's book holds nothing back.
Aaron Sorkin also enlisted the help of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak for historical accuracy in the film. Wozniak commended Boyle, Sorkin, and Michael Fassbender on their work for the film, telling the BBC:
In some prior movies, I saw [actors] simulating Steve Jobs, but they didn’t really make me feel like I was in his head understanding what was going on inside of him. This movie absolutely accomplishes that, and it’s due to great acting, which obviously comes from great directing….
When you see it portrayed dramatically, not the way it really happened, but in a way that is emotionally graphic, it really conveys what Steve Jobs was really like inside… and what it was like to be around him.
The movie focuses on a few key relationships with real people in Jobs' life, including Wozniak (Seth Rogen), Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), Jobs' first child and her mother, Lisa Brennan-Jobs (Perla Haney-Jardine) and Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), all of whom spoke with Sorkin during the development of the screenplay. However, Danny Boyle did admit at the Telluride film festival that much of the dialogue is fictional.
Apple's Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive has also taken a stance against the movie, speaking out at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit (via The Verge) saying that the movie is confusing and conflicting for those who were actually close to actually the Apple CEO.
We’re remembering and celebrating Steve Jobs' life and at the same time there is this perfectly timed movie and I don’t recognize this person. [Jobs] had his triumphs and his tragedies like us all, [but is having his] identify described, defined by a whole bunch of other people and I think that’s a bit of a struggle personally.
Amidst the criticism from Jobs' friends and family, Boyle and Sorkin have stood by their work. Boyle says that his aim was not to create a documentary about Steve Jobs, but rather a piece of art.
[Jobs] is someone a lot of people have a lot of very strong feelings about. It’s a bit like setting out to write about the Beatles.
I didn’t want it to be a cradle-to-grave biopic or a piece of journalism. Art isn’t about what happened.
When it comes to such a renowned and prolific figure, however, should art be allowed to potentially negatively influence a person's legacy? How much can art sidestep reality before becoming an entire work of fiction? And where does Steve Jobs sit on that line? At this point there are no definitive answers, so I guess we'll just have to see the movie and formulate our own opinions.
Steve Jobs will have a limited release in New York and Los Angeles starting October 9 and is set for a nationwide release on October 23.