Steve Jobs's Widow Tried to Stop Aaron Sorkin's 'Steve Jobs' Movie

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Jordan Zakarin
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Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet in ‘Steve Jobs’ (Universal)

Steve Jobs was the master of launching a new product, but now, his friends and family are doing their best to throw cold water on the premiere of the new film about the late Apple co-founder.

According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, Jobs’s wife and Apple colleagues have been unhappy with Steve Jobs, a new film written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle. The movie portrays Jobs, played by Michael Fassbender, as a genius so convinced of his gifts and import that he was often ruthless to his friends, colleagues, and even his young daughter. The film has received strong reviews from critics thus far.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Jobs’s widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, tried to kill the film multiple times, lobbying both Sony, which developed Sorkin’s script, and Universal, which eventually produced it. She refused to cooperate with Sorkin during the writing of the screenplay, producer Scott Rubin told the Journal, and even disliked the acclaimed biography by Walter Isaacson on which Sorkin based parts of his script. (Steve Jobs himself cooperated with Isaacson on the book before his death in 2011.)

The film, out in New York and L.A. on Friday, dramatizes three major events in Jobs’s life, focusing on the backstage drama before he unveiled the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1988, and the iMac in 1998. His interactions with colleagues such as Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), and Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), as well as his young daughter Lisa are all fictional, but rooted in the relationships and conflicts he had with each of them — including his refusal for a time to acknowledge that he was Lisa’s father, despite DNA tests proving his paternity.

Sorkin did consult with Wozniak, the brainy Apple co-founder who spends much of the movie trying to stand up to Jobs and convince him to give credit to the people who designed the Apple II computer. (The WSJ reports Wozniak was paid $200,000 for his insights.) Rogen said during a New York Film Festival screening on Saturday that he wasn’t all that concerned about pleasing Wozniak with his portrayal, but in early September, the Apple co-founder said that he was ecstatic with the outcome.

“In some prior movies, I saw [the actors] simulating Steve Jobs, but they didn’t really make me feel like I was in his head understanding what was going on inside of him,” Wozniak told the BBC. “This movie absolutely accomplishes that, and it’s due to great acting, which obviously comes from great directing…. When you see it portrayed dramatically, not the way it really happened, but in a way that is emotionally graphic, it really conveys what Steve Jobs was really like inside… and what it was like to be around him.”

Wozniak is still, technically, an Apple employee and shareholder, but his opinion certainly does not reflect the company line. Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook sparked a fight with Sorkin by calling the movie (and a new documentary from director Alex Gibney called Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine) “opportunistic,” adding, “I hate this.” On Monday, the fourth anniversary of Jobs’ death, Cook tweeted out a tribute to his predecessor:

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Watch the trailer to ‘Steve Jobs’ below: