June 2, 2012

Sorkin Talks (Steve) Jobs

Michael Harper for

This year´s All Things D was dominated by a person who wasn´t even there: Steve Jobs. Tim Cook took over a familiar spot for Jobs, leading off the week with an interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. Jobs had been the guest of this opening interview 6 times before. Not only did Mossberg ask Cook all about Jobs, he also asked long-time friend of Jobs and CEO of Oracle, Larry Ellison what he thought of Jobs.

Mossberg asked the same question of Ed Catmull, who had worked with Jobs at Pixar. Then, at the end of the conference, All Things D released their entire archive of Jobs interviews, totaling 6 high-quality videos available for free on the iTunes store. This was the conferences´ first year without Jobs, and he was most definitely missed.

Continuing the Jobs tributes was Aaron Sorkin, Oscar-winning writer of films such as The Social Network, the somewhat biopic of Mark Zuckerberg and the origins of Facebook. Speaking to Mossberg, Sorkin said he wants to make Jobs out to be a Hero in his forthcoming biopic about the  legendary Apple co-founder.

Comparing him to his portrayal of Zuckerberg as an “antihero,” Sorkin said he preferred to see Jobs as a hero and does not intend to judge Jobs or spend too much time focusing on his unsavory side.

"He's a complicated guy," said Sorkin during his on stage interview. "Zuckerberg was, as well. But when I'm writing this movie, I can't judge this character. He has to be, for me, a hero. It's a little like writing about the Beatles," Sorkin mused. "There are so many people out there that know him and revere him."

Sorkin is also creator of popular television show The West Wing, who  last month announced their Sony studios had recruited the other Steve of Apple, Steve Wozniak, to act as an advisor. According to Sorkin, he wants only to produce a “painting, not a photograph” of Jobs, eschewing the typical “cradle to grave” biography. Sorkin´s film will be based on Isaacson´s popular and best selling biography which released just weeks after Jobs passed.

Isaacson´s book is based on hours upon hours of interviews with Jobs himself, as well as many of his colleagues, friends and family. Jobs gave Isaacson plenty of artistic freedom, allowing him to interview whomever and ask whatever questions of them he felt necessary. As such, Isaacson was able to get candid responses from even Jobs´ enemies.

Sorkin´s film won´t be the only Jobs biopic to hit the big screen in the coming years. Ashton Kutcher is also being cast as the iPod inventor  in another, independent version of the movie. Sorkin hopes to be able to get to market first by shooting this month.

The independent film will be directed by Joshua Michael Stern and will reportedly tell the story of Jobs from commune-frequenting hippie to American corporate tycoon. “Steve Jobs is a big enough person, and led a big enough life, that there is more than enough room for more than one movie," said Sorkin yesterday.

There isn´t much time to shoot, however, as Sorkin has yet to announce the cast or crew for his movie. Sorkin has said he is still considering the best way to approach his subject.

"I'm at the earliest possible stage with Steve Jobs. What I'll do is go through a long period that, to the casual observer, might very well look like watching ESPN.”