Our first reaction to Ashton Kutcher playing Steve Jobs was abject horror. But once the because it’s Ashton Kutcher! nausea dissipates, you’re left with something more salient: Steve Jobs is not a hard acting role. And Ashton might be perfect.
The Steve Kutcher backlash is off the mark for two reasons. First, Kutcher will star in the other Steve Jobs movie — not the Aaron Sorkin-penned adaptation of the official Jobs bio. So, for that reason alone, relax a little. This isn’t going to be the main event of Apple founder cinema.
I understand your qualms. Ashton Kutcher is a complete doofus. He’s childish. He’s impulsive. He turned his back on his wife and ruined his own family. He atoned by banging Rihanna. He doesn’t care what other people think — yet cultivates an aura of immaculate vanity. The hair! The annoying beard! The 10 million (plus!) Twitter followers. He loves recognition. Ask Kutcher who and what he is and you might get this Twitter bio in reply:
I make stuff, actually I make up stuff, stories mostly, collaborations of thoughts, dreams, and actions. Thats me.
A dreamer! An artist! A star of Two and a Half Men. A mercenary. But above all, a emotional amoeba who pretty much does what he wants because it’s clear he thinks he just can.
If you push aside all his frosty-eyed adoration, the man revealed by Walter Isaacson arsehole apologia was an impulsive brat too. A brat of world historical stature, but a brat. Jobs demeaned everyone around him, spurned his own family, and was the consummate, brilliant techno-egomaniacal ego-worshipper. The bulk of his genius was expressed via high school cursing geysers, browbeating, bullying, and staring without blinking.
Is that so hard to emulate? What actor can’t yell “This is s**t!” on cue? What screen gravitas does it take to tell someone they f**king suck, over and over? There are no Edison scenes of invention, no Beautiful Mind moments of scribbling formulas. Steve Jobs’ eureka moments were him walking into a room of programmers and saying, in short, Hey fuck faces, do this thing this way, and by the way. Bye. To the extent that he was a man of big ideas, they were big ideas stuffed inside, out of reach of any camera.
Steve Jobs was not a man of complex behaviour, nor did he live a life of churning conflict. Nobody is asking Ashton Kutcher to portray Nixon, or MLK Jr, or Nietzsche. Or even Zuckerberg. It’s easy to be a jerk — Ashton lives it daily. So while he’s not a good actor by any means, he simply doesn’t have to be one to pull off a decent Jobs. Besides, you can’t deny they do look a lot alike on the outside, too. Ralph Fiennes or Christian Bale would be artful, sure! But could he grow that hair and dirty beard? Unlikely.