The Strange Saga of ‘Steve Jobs’: A widow’s threats, high-powered spats and the Sony hack

Over the past “four years, [the film Steve Jobs] would draw then lose such major names as David Fincher, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale before settling on director Danny Boyle and star Michael Fassbender; it would become entangled in a gargantuan email hack that put Sony Pictures at the heart of a global firestorm; it would lead to the near-rupture of Pascal’s decadeslong friendship with one of Steve Jobs’ producers, Scott Rudin; and it would inspire accusations of opportunism from none other than Apple CEO Tim Cook,” Stephen Galloway reports for The Hollywood Reporter. “‘Fasten two seat belts,’ Pascal warned in a prescient early email. ‘Its [sic] gonna be more than bumpy.'”

“While Apple has maintained a distance from the film — which acknowledges Jobs’ brilliance while painting an unflattering portrait of his personal relationships — Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, 51, actively tried to obstruct it. ‘They haven’t helped,’ says Boyle of her and Cook. ‘There’s been some tough moments. I’m not going to go into them,'” Galloway reports. “Says another of the picture’s key players, ‘Since the very beginning, Laurene Jobs has been trying to kill this movie, OK?’ (Laurene’s character does not figure in the film, while Jobs’ daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, from another relationship, plays a prominent part.) ‘Laurene Jobs called Leo DiCaprio and said, ‘Don’t do it.’ Laurene Jobs called Christian Bale and said, ‘Don’t [do it].””

“A Sony executive confirms, however, that: ‘She reached out; she had a strong desire not to have the movie made. But we said, ‘We’re going to move forward.’ My understanding is, she did call one or two of the actors,'” Galloway reports. “Another source says that Laurene lobbied each major studio in an attempt to kill the project.”

Tons more in the whole saga recounting the making of Steve Jobs here.

MacDailyNews Take: Laurene reportedly called Isaacson to get him to finally do the book as Steve’s health declined (“if you are ever going to write a biography of Steve, you’d better do it now“). Did she really think movie rights wouldn’t be a result? Obviously his life was remarkable and, in the right hands, would make for a remarkable movie (regardless of how the biography turned out). Or did she just not approve of the involvement of certain people in this particular project?

‘Steve Jobs’ director Danny Boyle warns of ‘tremendous, terrifying power’ of tech giants like Apple – October 7, 2015
Forbes reviews ‘Steve Jobs’: ‘An electrifying interpretive dance of abstract biographical cinema’ – October 7, 2015
Steve Jobs’ daughter Lisa skips movie screening, but parties with cast – October 7, 2015
Philip Elmer-DeWitt reviews ‘Steve Jobs’ movie: ‘I loved it’ – October 7, 2015
Aaron Sorkin: Steve Jobs just wanted to be loved – October 6, 2015
The ‘Steve Jobs’ movie that Sony, DiCaprio, and Bale didn’t want is now an Oscar favorite – October 6, 2015
Michael Fassbender already the odds-on favorite to win an Oscar for ‘Steve Jobs’ – October 5, 2015
Steve Jobs’ widow and friends take aim at Hollywood over ‘Steve Jobs’ biopic – October 5, 2015
‘Steve Jobs’ biopic too nasty to win Best Picture award – October 2, 2015
Andy Hertzfeld: ‘Steve Jobs’ movie ‘deviates from reality everywhere’ but ‘aspires to explore and expose the deeper truths’ – October 2, 2015
Aaron Sorkin blasts Apple’s Tim Cook over ‘Steve Jobs’ critique: ‘You’ve got a lot of nerve’ – September 25, 2015
Kate Winslet on ‘Steve Jobs’ biopic: ‘Sorkin makes it almost not about Steve Jobs at all’ – August 26, 2015
Watch Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs in new official trailer – July 1, 2015
See Michael Fassbender as ‘Steve Jobs’ in first movie trailer – May 18, 2015
Universal Pictures announces full cast of ‘Steve Jobs’ as biopic begins shooting – January 28, 2015
Filming for Steve Jobs biopic underway at Apple co-founder’s childhood home – January 17, 2015
Perla Haney-Jardine to play Lisa Jobs in Universal’s ‘Steve Jobs’ biopic – January 6, 2015
Kate Winslet eyed for female lead in ‘Steve Jobs’ biopic – December 22, 2014
Jeff Daniels eyed to play former Apple CEO John Sculley in ‘Steve Jobs’ biopic – December 9, 2014


  1. At the end of the day people may finally realize SJ was as human as anyone else….not the devil…nor a God….simply human.

    In the 4 years leading up to his death there was a definite softening in his tone and appreciation for others. Perhaps the cancer melted away the harsher parts highlighted in these movies? I’ll always remember his last Keynote…the compassionate look in his eyes said it all.

    1. No four years, but three decades. There are people who have worked with Jobs since time of Next, and there is reason why they worked for/with him for that long — not because he was “jerk”.

      The issue is that you always hear from the same bunch of disgruntled employees, not from most of Jobs’ co-workers and friends.

  2. It’s not a question of realizing the Steve Jobs was “as human as anyone else”, it’s more depicting a man’s life in a fair and balanced manner. This movie is pure manipulation, it’s just a vehicle for Sorkin and Boyle to vent and get out their own highly cynical views about the tech world (just like the Facebook movie). There’s a good reason why Jobs’ wife and perhaps closest friend was dead-set against this movie, she saw what was coming.

  3. Well I had pegged Hollywood Reporter as a mere tabloid and that they well may be, but I went ahead and read the article and it is a revelation and a reminder of what journalism used to be. Yes the Sony hack uncovered emails relating to the making of this movie. The writer used them to good effect to reconstruct the story of the movie’s evolution. And it is a compelling story, at that.

    Catching lightning in a bottle is a task seldom achieved. If a mere spark remains after the attempt, that is enough to charge our rich imagination, which is more true in a deep, visceral sense than any dry biography could be.

    Movies should be, and are, more about the experience rather than the spec sheets. Sounds familiar…

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