News: Ashton Kutcher and Joshua Michael Stern Talk Vision, Origins and Jobs

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The iPhone might have sealed Steve Jobs' place in history alongside Edison, but director Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote) begins Jobs, his biopic on the Apple Computers visionary, with Jobs' introducing the iPod. In a press conference after a screening of the film in San Francisco’s Century 9 Theater, Stern said his goal was to make an origin story. “What people know about Jobs is the mythology that became Steve, the black mock turtleneck, the glasses, the priest of the technology.” Star Ashton Kutcher says Jobs portrays “the story of Steve Jobs from the perspective of a guy who wasn’t always Steve Jobs…People say they remember where they were when JFK died; I remember where I was when Steve Jobs died.”

Kutcher says, “We make movies about iconic figures all the time but he’s a person, and the products he created are things people love. Most of us have something in our hands that’s of him. I look at those products and see the conduit for most of my important relationships. People remember his keynotes, the creative inspirational showman, but I realized I didn’t fully appreciate him…we wanted to tell the good and the bad and inspire people to innovate.”

When Kutcher read the script he says he got “defensive about Steve’s legacy,” which inspired him to do his homework on the man and his work. “I loved a man I never knew.” Kutcher, who supports entrepreneurs in technology, felt the project spoke to many of his interests. “We wanted to show Jobs hit brick walls and get kicked out of his company and to show that it’s really hard. We need entrepreneurs now more than ever. The industrial revolution is officially over and the great innovation in the world is happening in technology. We need to inspire people. If you get out of college and can’t find a job: build one.”

Perseverance ranked high among Jobs’ traits but Stern was most interested in his faults. “What I heard a lot was how flawed he was and how socially difficult it was for him to communicate. In my research I was told early on by a person in one of his groups that he’d get very frustrated trying to explain his ideas. It’s like having the cure for cancer and trying to tell someone “this is what it is” but no one else knows what he’s saying.”

Kutcher explains, “You look at what Steve Jobs built: he didn’t invent email, the telephone, the calendar, he wasn’t even the sole inventor of those things. Many of the great things he built he stole,” Kucher carefully quotes “good artists borrow, great artists steal.” And after much proselytizing about Jobs, Kutcher finally says: “what he did was engineer things to make them beautiful, useful, simple, accessible, and commercial.”

The production asked Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak to consult on the film but Stern explained Wozniak had been recruited to consult on another Jobs film currently in pre-production and based on the biography by Walter Isaacson. Naturally we can expect to see a few more biopics on the Apple founder and visionary.

Kutcher compares Jobs to Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla cars. “He [Musk] might be the next guy, I don’t know, but at the end of the day the qualities [of visionaries] are the same…The next person will be driven, and focused and work hard and fearlessly approach failure and falls down and gets back up and I guarantee the next person who innovates in that way will be someone who’s failed many times in their life. I think they’re out there.”

Jobs hits theaters nationwide August 16.

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