Steve Jobs screenwriter Aaron Sorkin took the stage at Deadline’s The Contenders event this morning, standing by the accuracy of his film and announcing, “I think there’s been some confusion about the movie.”
“There’s not a fact about Steve Jobs that has been distorted, perverted or invented except this: Steve Jobs didn’t’ have confrontations with five people 40 minutes before every product launch. That’s a writer’s conceit.”
“I would say it’s not a biopic,” said the Oscar-winning writer of The Social Network who delivered his 189-page script to the studio “in a shopping bag.”
“When you write a biopic, you land on characters’ greatest hits along the way. I didn’t want to write a $30M studio version of a Wikipedia page. I’ve enjoyed traditional biopics in the past and we already know there have been a few on Steve Jobs, as well as a couple of plays and the Sante Fe Operahouse is doing an opera on Steve Jobs for the 2017 season.”
To which Sorkin joked, “People’s heads in Cupertino, CA are going to burst knowing that Steve Jobs wasn’t a tenor!”
In fact, Sorkin, arguably had more access to those in Jobs’ circle than author Walter Isaacson, whose Steve Jobs is the book that the Danny Boyle-directed film is based on.
“Talking to all these people, I got the idea to do this movie in three real time scenes, moments before a production launch and dramatize it,” said Sorkin.
Point in fact: Sorkin actually conversed with Jobs on three occasions. Said Sorkin, “He called me. The first time was to tell me that he loved a West Wing episode that aired the night before. The second time was to invite me to Pixar in hopes that I would writer a Pixar film and the third time was to help him with his Stanford University commencement speech. I fixed some typos.”
Apple marketing guru Joanna Hoffman is portrayed in the film as the only person who could stand up to the acerbic Jobs. Upon meeting her, Sorkin realized that her story was essential drama.Referring to a scene where Hoffman reveals the excellent sales projections for the iMac, Sorkin explained, “I don’t know if Steve and Joanna had that conversation, but all the facts in that conversation are true. After spending time with her, and learning how she felt, it was an interesting way to dramatize it.”
One of the linchpin sources for Sorkin was daughter Lisa Jobs, who also wasn’t accessible to Walter Isaacson for his Steve Jobs book. Lisa Jobs declined to see the film despite Sorkin’s offer of a private screening, and she even backed out of attending the New York Film Festival premiere five minutes before it started. “She had written me an email and said, I hope my character isn’t weak,” said Sorkin.
Sorkin quelled her concern by sending her the monologue where Lisa goes off on her father toward the end of the movie, cursing the iMac as a machine that looked like “Judy Jetson’s Easy Bake Oven.”
Lisa approved of the embellishment. “God,” she wrote, “if I only said that to him.”