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Steve Jobs devotees are an unshakable lot, and their fixation isn't petering out any time soon -- despite the nearly two years since Apple's co-founder succumbed to his off switch. So there should be plenty of room for movies autopsying his life and brain.
In a mad rush that itself memorializes the tech genius, the first release to hit the marketplace is indie biopic Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher. And hovering in the works is Steve Jobs, which Oscar-winner Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) is adapting for Sony from Walter Isaacson's bestselling biography.
But as Kutcher knows, things only happen when they happen. So our focus here is Jobs. At a recent press conference, the film's director, Joshua Michael Stern, relayed an anecdote from the shoot illustrating his star's command of chronology, especially regarding tech innovations:
"Ashton, who had sort of an encyclopedic knowledge of the technology of this time, would walk onto a set, and there would be a chip that was randomly on a table, and he'd pick it up and so we'd have to take if off because it wasn't going to be invented for two years...'This is not invented yet...' "
Kutcher's immersion in Jobs' universe was not as big of a stretch as you might imagine of the Two and a Half Men co-lead. Before becoming an actor and producer, he studied biochemical engineering, and he's an active investor in Internet properties through his venture fund, A-Grade Investments. Another company he co-owns, Katalyst, has him generating properties across multiple platforms.
So when Kutcher gets down to channeling Jobs, he's not just flexing his thespian chops, he's getting business tips to boot. His homage extends to the legendary Apple chief's ethos.
"By proxy (Jobs) made the shareholders a lot of money, but he was never going, 'We need to make this company more profitable.' He was saying, ‘We need to make something that's even more brilliant and more beautiful and more wonderful for people's lives.’ " That the Apple chief was beholden to consumers and innovation -- and not to shareholders per se -- is a modus operandi that gets Kutcher's vote.
To viscerally understand the man, Kutcher put his own flesh on the line. This meant emulating Jobs' loping, barefoot gait to the point where the actor all but stressed his musculature. But this pales in comparison to the fruit-only diet he adopted after reading Jobs' "dietary bible": The Mucusless Diet Healing System. Going frutarian seems to have landed Kutcher in ER just prior to the shoot.
Kutcher recalled that the book by Arnold Ehret "talked about the value of grape sugar and that that was the only pure sugar that you could have in your body." He deadpanned, "I think that the guy that wrote that book was pretty misinformed.
"My insulin levels got pretty messed up and my pancreas kind of went into some crazy, I don't know -- the levels were really off and it was really painful. I didn't know what was wrong. And we figured out that my insulin levels were really off."
Despite Kutcher's bodily risks, the Jobsian world he inhabits in real life hardly portends anything nasty, brutish or short. Asked about Job's personality traits that he identifies with, he lit up:
"I love creating efficiencies...I bought a house five minutes away from my work so I didn’t have to drive through traffic. I figured out a way to organize my closet so that I can actually wake up and get dressed in the order that I like to dress and move right down a line in my closet. So I can start at one end and move to the other and by the end I’m done. I kind of have the thing set up so that I can wake up and get out of my house in about four minutes and get to work within 12 minutes from the time I wake up, so I try to do a lot and accomplish a lot in a short period of time..."
It's hard not to wonder what Jobs would've thought about the actor who immersed himself so fully in his books, videos, music, diet, walk, career and associates. As for Kutcher, he regrets never having met his real-life avatar, but he withholds criticism about the "flawed man" and his apparent disregard of others' feelings.
"One of the first things you learn as an actor is never judge your character."
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