If the Hollywood rumour-mill is to be believed (and it never should), there will soon be more movies about Steve Jobs than there are about Dracula. It is in one sense bizarre to have so much interest in single person, but Hollywood has never been shy about jumping on trends, and Steve became, particularly in the last few years of his life, just as high-profile a celebrity as the musicians and artists he admired.
It’s inevitable that there will be a few films made of his life and influence, but the two highest-profile at the moment are the mainstream Hollywood one, and one indie flick starring Ashton Kutcher.
In the case of the first, I think it’s pointless to start speculating yet. All that we know for certain is that the rights to the Isaacson biography have been sold. Yes, some people have expressed an interest in writing, directing and acting in it (including Noah Wyle, who played Steve in the entertaining Pirates of Silicon Valley), but Hollywood is in a lot of ways a ponderous beast, and the screenplay will have to go through many treatments and drafts before the film is even greenlit, never mind cast. It’s also worth remembering that for a big budget film like this one will be, crew – even the director – can be subject to change right up to and after the last minute. Just look at Guillermo Del Toro’s involvement with The Hobbit – he was set to direct for years before he was bumped out at the last minute and filming began.
The second, with Ashton Kutcher, seems like it could be interesting, though. Some people have objected to the casting of Kutcher, suggesting that he may not have the chops to play a serious role. I’m not familiar with Kutcher at all, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. We can all think of actors – particularly comedy actors – who we’ve seen deliver excellent performances in serious roles: Jim Carrey in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for instance, or Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Brick and Inception. We’ll see how challenging a role is written for Kutcher, and how well he fills it, when the film comes out.
Having established that speculation is pointless, I’m now going to engage in some. Here is a list of actors who may (or may not) be able to pull off the part in a big Hollywood movie.
Noah Wyle: He’s already done it once, and done a good job. He’d have more information to work with this time, and might be able to give a more rounded performance. His age could be a problem, but as Bart suggested on the last show, that could easily be fixed with a liberal application of make-up or (more likely) CGI. He’s an unlikely choice for the studios, though – when have you ever know one person to get the same part in two different, unrelated movies? He’s also got no experience leading a cast in a big-budget movie. Odds: 15:1
George Clooney: He’s already expressed an interest. True, he looks and sounds nothing like Jobs, and he’s more saturnine than mercurial (spot the reference?) – less inclined to blow up at small slights, and his voice is more inclined to calm people than rouse them. So basically he could play Steve if Steve were nothing like Steve. Hm. Moving on. Odds: 25:1
Christian Bale: Unlike Clooney, we know Bale has the temper for this. Having previously reduced some anonymous crew member and the director of Terminator: Whatever The Last One Was Called to gibbering wrecks, Apple employees should prove no challenge. Sure, he doesn’t have Steve’s build, but for The Machinist he showed a willingness to lose a dangerous amount of weight in order to fit a role. Actually, now that I think of it, Bale might really be a runner. Can we agree right now, though, not to let McG direct? Odds: 10:1
Johnny Depp: Like Wyle, Depp seems immune to the aging process. I’m also convinced that no-one is really sure what he looks like. Depp may not know himself. He might be an alien, which would explain a lot. Does he look like Jobs? Probably not. Could he be made to look like Jobs? Certainly. Could he be strong enough to hold down a solo lead in a major film? Well… Odds: 20:1
Woody Allen: Ok, I’m casting very much against type here, but bear with me on this one. Some actors can embody their opposites amazingly well. Jim Henson was famously the calmest person in the world – he would only explode in temper as Kermit. Or if it doesn’t work, at least think of Allen delivering some of Jobs’ famous presentations. “A phone. An iPod. An Internet communications device. A phone. An iPod. An Internet communications device. Aren’t you getting it? Oh, my therapist told me this was a bad idea…” Odds: 80:1
Cate Blanchett: While we’re on the unlikelies, Blanchett has a bit of experience in the field of film biography, having played Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare’s Dark Lady and – here’s what gave me the notion – Steve’s hero Bob Dylan. So she definitely has the talent, but would a studio take the risk? Odds: 100:1
The Rock: Dwayne Johnson has been called Franchise Viagra for his ability to revive franchises which have, er, flopped. Yes, he’d be totally inappropriate, and, yes, it would make for an extremely lousy film, but the studio would love it! So why do I include him in this list? Two reasons: 1) in as cynical and unimaginative an industry as today’s Hollywood is, if the market were to be flooded with Jobs pictures, audiences could become jaded and he might be seen as the solution; and 2) I’m running out of ideas. Ho hum. At least we know he’d be worse than Kutcher. Odds: 1000:1
So who have I missed? Drop a comment below, or send a mail to email@example.com if you’d like it read out on the show.