In our recent flipcam interview Sorkin has nothing but praise for Pascal for believing in him. “Amy Pascal is awesome,” he said. He recognized how out-of-the-box risky his concept was, and obtained her go-ahead to write it. She might have made the film with David Fincher and Christian Bale—not Boyle and Michael Fassbender. Snapping up the package was Donna Langley at Universal (riding flush times), who pushed forward on the audacious biopic (loosely) based on Walter Isaacson’s bestseller. “It was incredibly risky,” Sorkin admitted. “I didn’t want to do a biopic. That’s journalism, a dramatized Wikipedia page.”
Sorkin stayed on set throughout “luxurious” rehearsals for each of the three acts and their separate shoots in San Francisco, watching the actors ingest and absorb his massive pages of dialogue (“the sound of Jobs’ mind”). “The rehearsal period was what allowed us to do the movie,” said Sorkin. Fassbender as Jobs and Winslet as Macintosh marketing chief Joanna Hoffman both dazzle with their fleet-tongued performances, unlike anything they have done before. Fassbender is playing a monster, in many ways, who is also a genius who believed his computer would change the world. But he reveals a damaged man who sacrificed himself to fight for his impossibly high standards.”You have to do more than remember it,” Sorkin said. “You have to own it.”
Boyle shot the film in three discrete parts. Part One, shot in gritty 16 mm with flashbacks to the famous garage where Apple was born, is an origin myth. The second section was shot in 35 mm, the third in hi-res digital. Sorkin jams the most dramatic moments in Jobs’ life into highly stressed pre-show encounters with his principal antagonists, masterfully managed by his personal timekeeper Hoffman with a Moliere-like efficiency as she shuttles her boss from one backstage location to another. “Points of friction became clear to me,” he said, after reading about a moment when Jobs freaked out that the Mac wouldn’t say ‘Hello’ before the 1984 launch. He decided to give Jobs other, personal, headaches before the three launches. “I’m a playwright faking my way through movies and TV,” he said. “I like claustrophobic spaces, especially when there’s a ticking clock.”
There’s also Jobs’ ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katharine Waterston), who fights for support for Lisa, who he refuses to claim as his child. Jobs’ chief engineer Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) did in fact advance $25,000 for Jobs’ daughter Lisa’s tuition to Harvard. Sorkin was able to interview Lisa, who did not participate in the biography because her father was still alive. Sorkin recognizes, as Alex Gibney does in his excellent Steve Jobs documentary, that Lisa humanizes Jobs. He’s tender with his daughter, at the same time that he insists that he did not name his computer after her. Sorkin’s take on Jobs is almost too warm and fuzzy as he seeks to redeem him via the adoring gaze of Lisa and Hoffman. “The relationship with his daughter is the emotional center,” he said.
Next up: Sorkin has signed on to direct his script for “Molly’s Game,” which he handed in to Sony producer Pascal this fall (after Sony hack-revealed email kerfuffles over adapting Michael Lewis’s “Flashboys”). “Molly’s Game” will not only be his directorial debut, it will also feature his first female protagonist: real-life competitive skier Molly Bloom, who ran a high-stakes poker game in Hollywood. That’s a coveted role for a top actress to play. (Especially during the run of HBO’s “Newsroom,” Sorkin has fended off accusations of misogyny.)
Going forward, the writer (who prefers movies and theater to the deadline demands of television) has picked up the movie rights to John Edwards expose “The Politician.” He’s also acquired rights to the documentary “Best of Enemies,” which made this year’s Oscar shortlist, as a feature. Of course he’s attracted to the ABC live TV confrontation of brilliant and witty fast-talking political opposites William F. Buckley (straight Conservative) and Gore Vidal (gay Liberal). “It’s the beginning of food fight television,” Sorkin said.
And yes, many are clamoring for “Steve Jobs” to be mounted on Broadway. The stars still have it memorized. Your move, Scott Rudin.