Not many people would draw parallels between the lives of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs and actor Ashton Kutcher. They don't look alike, and they don't sound alike. Their introductions into the public spotlight certainly weren't similar. It's easy to understand why critics were chomping at the bit when it was announced that the 34-year-old actor would be playing the computing wiz, but movie magic has shaped the star into a young Jobs' look-alike. Fans who know Kutcher's background don't have much of a problem accepting the role either.
Discovered by a talent scout while studying biochemical engineering at the esteemed University of Iowa, Kutcher is no dummy. He may have been typecast early on as a bonehead, but the recent divorcee has brains to go along with his brawn. Thanks to a talented makeup and hairstyle team, Kutcher's inner geek has been exposed. Early press photos offered relief to Jobs' devotees who worried that the two men simply looked too different to make the movie work.
The biographical film "jOBS" will premiere in January at the Sundance Film Festival and will be followed up by a limited release in April 2013. It stars a host of Hollywood familiars, including James Woods, Dermot Mulroney, Matthew Modine, Lesley Ann Warren, and Lukas Haas. Written by Matt Whitely and directed by Joshua Michael Stern, the movie covers the span of Jobs' life from his decision to drop out of college in 1971 to his reunion with Apple in 2000.
Just as the Apple cofounder strove to make a production of his accomplishments in life, filmmakers have already found a way to make a splash with their movie's debut. Opening the last night of the festival, the project is already generating a good deal of interest. Choosing Kutcher for the lead role was just one controversial decision in a movie dedicated to the life of one of technology's most controversial figures.
Additionally, a rival film backed by Sony Pictures is currently in the works, based on the official biography written by Walter Isaacson. That screenplay will be penned by Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin, the writer responsible for the tech story, "The Social Network." Its release date has not yet been announced.
Jobs was a passionate person, and Kutcher reportedly has done a stellar job of representing him. Apple's other cofounder Steve Wozniak gave his performance an enthusiastic thumbs up. Movie producer Michael Hume went as far as calling it inspiring. This could take the actor to a new level in his career, separating him from less serious roles he's been keen to play in the past.
It's no surprise that production companies are fighting to beat each other to the punch. The timing of Jobs' death obviously makes this a hot story, but in every way, the entrepreneur's life provides fodder for an outstanding movie. Here we have a young man who drops out of college to create a company with his friends. Wozniak had already built the first Apple computer. Jobs convinced him that they could sell it.
It wasn't the first company the self-starter would have his finger in. After breaking with Apple in 1985, Jobs went on to establish NeXT Computer. He also purchased The Graphics Group from LucasFilm. Soon, that company changed its name to Pixar and went on to give Disney a run for its family-friendly animation dollars with hits like "Toy Story," "A Bug's Life," and "Finding Nemo." Sooner than later, Disney was working out deals with the company.
NeXT was also on the road to success. After receiving a boost in capital from Ross Perot, the company started to develop new, engaging technologies that began changing the face of personal computing. NeXT created such elements as digital signal processor chips and Internet connections built into computer bodies. Jobs' development of an innovative Web app framework called WebObjects encouraged Apple to buy the company in 1996 and, in doing so, brought him back into the company's fold.
As the acting chief executive for Apple, Jobs was responsible for many important changes in the late '90s. The transformation of his NeXTSTEP technology into Mac OS X and the introduction of the iMac literally resurrected a company on the verge of bankruptcy, surpassing its earlier popularity and opening the door to a full line of i-based products that still run strong today.
It's difficult to know how much of this story will be covered in "jOBS," but clearly this is a story you won't need to be a geek to understand. Jobs' life is the story of risking success, struggling through defeat, and finding redemption in spades. It's the American dream taken to the extreme and seems to be headed up by a young, determined actor who is now ready to take his own career to new horizons.