Today, Aaron Sorkin, who is in the process of writing a film about Steve Jobs’ life —based on the Walter Isaacson biography — spoke at the All Things D conference. He had some interesting things to say about the movie, including that writing about Jobs was like writing about The Beatles.
“I’m at the earliest possible stage with Steve Jobs. What I’ll do is go through a long period that, to the casual observer, might very well look like watching ESPN.”
“To the untrained eye,” said Sorkin. “It will look a lot like watching College Football.”
Sorkin also talked about the difficulty of adapting a biography, in that they tend to have a fairly linear structure. “It’s very difficult to shake the cradle-to-grave structure of a biography,” said Sorkin. “Instead I’m going to identify the point of friction and focus on that.”
“It’s a little like writing about the Beatles. There are so many people out there that know so much about him and that revere him. I just saw a minefield of disappointment. ”
Sorkin knows that there are many people who know more about Jobs than he does, and said that he was going to do enough research that he would, hopefully, approach that level of authority before he finishes the project. “People may say…that you missed the really big thing that he did.,” Sorkin said about people’s intimate knowledge of Jobs’ life and events.
When interviewer Walt Mossberg mentioned that there was another Jobs project in the works — the indie flick starring Ashton Kutcher — he said that “Steve Jobs is a big enough person, and led a big enough life, that there is more than enough room for more than one movie.”
Mossberg also asked him about whether an actor to play Jobs had been chosen, to which Sorkin replied negatively. “It’s going to have to be a good actor,” he said. “I write about people that are considerably smarter than I am.”
“I fell in love with the phonetic sound of intelligence — of a really good argument…I really love the sound of that.”
Sorkin continued about the choice to play Jobs “…they’re gonna have to talk fast, but they’re gonna have to be smart, because you can’t fake intelligence.”
Though Sorkin says he’s basically computer illiterate but not proud of it. “Mostly I just use my computer to write scripts. But I’m amazed that 3 and-a-half year-olds can resonate with computers right away. If I could ask Steve Jobs any question it’d be, “what’s that magic trick?””
In an interview earlier this month, Sorkin also said that the biopic wouldn’t be a ‘linear’ version of Jobs’ life. In that interview, he also mentioned that Sony pictures had hired on Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, as an advisor.
When asked if Steve Jobs was a hero or anti-hero, Sorkin replied that “He’s an extremely complicated guy, I know. That’s for sure.”
“The reason that Steve Jobs captured everyone’s attention so well is that he made things.” Sorkin says this goes against the general feeling these days that we’re all going to be ‘in the service industry’. “We do that in Hollywood too,” said Sorkin. “We’re making a lot of junk, but we still make things that people like.”
Sorkin penned the screenplay for The Social Network, an Academy Award-winning film about the genesis of Facebook.