Much is being made of the physical resemblance that Kutcher bears to the real Steve Jobs.
by Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif - When Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad were announced as the leads in Jobs - with Kutcher taking on the title role of Apple titan Steve Jobs and Gad portraying company co-founder Steve Wozniak - the internet jury weighed in swiftly.
The loudest voices were unhappy about the Two and a Half Men star joining forces with the Book of Mormon Broadway standout to play the key players in one of the most remarkable business relationships in generations.
"With us, especially Ashton, there was this overwhelming, immediate feedback when his name was announced," Gad says. "You have to grin, forget about it and put your ego aside. And you have to respect the fact that these men are that important."
"That's the thing about public criticism," Kutcher says while sitting next to his co-star in a hotel room. "Everyone wants to judge you based on what you haven't done yet, not who you are."
The time for judging is at hand as Jobs, directed by Joshua Michael Stern, opens nationwide Friday following its January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. It's the first of two dueling film projects centered on Jobs, who died in 2011. The second - a still-untitled Sony film (no date yet) - will be based on Walter Isaacson's 2011 authorized biography, Steve Jobs, with a screenplay by The Social Network's Aaron Sorkin.
As far as the actors - who are meeting up before attending the Teen Choice Awards, where Gad will present his co-star with a lifetime achievement prize - are concerned, the more projects about the complex Jobs, the better.
"This is a man whose life spanned so much that what he did cannot be contained in one two-hour film," Gad says. "This is one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th and 21st centuries, who will be revisited over and over again on film.
"This movie almost serves as an origin story," he adds. "It serves as the prequel to the story that everybody knows."
Kutcher's performance begins with Jobs as a barefoot hippie in college and follows him through his early Apple days with Wozniak in Jobs' parents' garage. The driven Jobs burns through personal relationships, including the one with Wozniak, in building his empire.
Wozniak has been an outspoken critic of the film, knocking his portrayal. Gad is quick to point out that Wozniak is a consultant on the other project, declined invitations to meet, and had seen only small portions of the film. "You have to appreciate that in the context of his criticisms," Gad says.
Kutcher says he sent an e-mail to Wozniak to explain the spirit of the film, which takes some liberties. "It's more like a Monet than a realist painting," he says. "And you're trying to give the audience an impression and a feeling."
This was put to the test when he screened the film before some early Apple employees in San Francisco.
"Afterward, they said that if those exact scenes didn't happen, something like that probably happened a thousand times," he says. "And a couple of them came up to me and said, 'Thank you for giving me two more hours of Steve.' "
Ultimately, the critics and those initial naysayers will have their say. When asked whether Jobs himself would approve of the project, Kutcher reflects aloud about Jobs' blunt, truthful nature before answering: "I would be terrified to know. But I could only hope he would be brutally honest."