For a few months every year, during Oscar season, a game begins where any movie based on a true event or actual person starts getting picked apart. There is a notion in some corners that a movie, if it’s based on a true story, must present the unembellished version of what happened. However, the fallacy of this thinking is forgetting that drama, by its very nature, is manipulation and distortion in the goal of achieving emotional impact. Even documentaries are largely presented from a place of bias, and edited and cut to present the version of the “truth” that the filmmaker desires.
Certainly when it comes to “Steve Jobs,” the story of the Apple titan, icon, monster, genius, ruthless tactician, and historic visionary, skews wildly depending upon who tells the tale. Right now, it’s Aaron Sorkin spinning the yarn, with his adaptation of Walter Isaacson‘s book, directed by Danny Boyle, now playing to packed houses. And it presents a portrait of a man who could be cold and petty, but also loyal and passionate. However, one big scene in the movie, which really gets to the core of Steve Jobs’ relationship with friend and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, “was made up for the movie.”
**SPOILERS AHEAD** In an email to Tech Insider, Wozniak reveals that third act scene in which he — well, the character played by Seth Rogen — confronts Michael Fassbender‘s Steve Jobs before the launch of the iMac, to get him to try and acknowledge the Apple II team who helped build the company, didn’t occur.
“I was behind Jobs and the products at each introduction. I would never even talk to a friend that way. But the sentiment among many was like that portrayed by my character, so their feelings were put into my mouth for the movie. I would have liked myself saying those things, except for the epithet,” Wozniak wrote. “The comments about Apple II recognition had nothing to do with myself. I was a voice for all the employees of that division who were being ignored and disrespected, possibly to diminish a source of competition to Steve Jobs’ Macintosh.”
He goes on to say that the scene was “based on a 30-second phone call I made to John Sculley, not on my own behalf but on that of a ton of managers and execs and engineers who were about ready to quit.” So, was Sorkin blurring the lines between fact and fiction? Before you answer, you should also know that Wozniak was a paid consultant on the movie. And reading between the lines, even if he didn’t actually go toe-to-toe with his friend, the sentiment expressed in the film is very real.
“Steve Jobs” goes wide on October 23rd. Check out a new featurette with Wozniak below and let us know what your expectations are about the truth or “truth” in movies.