There are very few business-people — dead or alive — who warrant a biopic. After all: the kind of person that usually goes into the business world isn’t exactly the dynamic hero type who represents the stuff movies are made from. Sorry, pencil pushers and desk jockeys, but unless you’re saving babies with a super complicated spreadsheet, Michael Bay and David Fincher aren’t making movies about you.
But Steve Jobs was just enough of a nut to be exactly the kind of businessman that actors want to portray on screen. Over and over again. Steve was not above mild histrionics and measured screaming to get his way, and that’s exactly the kind of thing that audiences like to see.
Former Batman Christian Bale has now been officially confirmed as the “i”conic Apple boss in the upcoming film directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network). And while we give mad props to former Jobs portrayers Ashton Kutcher and Noah Wyle, Bale just might be the best Jobs yet.
The 1999 TV movie Pirates Of Silicon Valley was, at the time, kind of a big deal…at least in Steve Job’s home of Silicon Valley. Noah Wyle appeared as Jobs at that year’s MacWorld expo, parodying the normcore overlord by wearing his prerequisite black turtleneck and dad-jeans. Wyle does a pretty good job of being Steve and may bear the distinction of being the only person to portray him while he was still alive. While there are times that Pirates Of Silicon Valley errs heartily on the TV movie side of things (overwrought clip of Jobs havin’ a big ol’ brood, below, sets the tone for a solid third of the movie) Noah Wyle does a pretty good job of playing Jobs. It’s kind of a shame the rest of the movie isn’t as nuanced as he is in the role.
In 2013, just a year after Jobs passed away, Ashton Kutcher, a.k.a. That ’70s Show living cheesecake/exceptionally smart technology investor (depending on how you want to look at him) played him in the movie Jobs. The very thought of Kutcher portraying Jobs rattled enough Apple-nerd cages to tank the movie before it even came out and the film has often been cited as an example of how not to do a tech movie. Ironically, Kutcher tried to do a good job playing Steve — in actual fact, he did a pretty great job of showing the guy as less of a tortured genius and more of a neurotic, over-confident weirdo, which Steve arguably was. And it should definitely be said that Kutcher inhabits the role of a younger Jobs very well: the movie’s (genuinely ridiculous) drug-taking scene may be laughable, but Kutcher really commits to his part. Much in the same way that The Pirates Of Silicon Valley fell apart around the actors while Wyle and Hall soldiered on with pretty solid performances, Jobs falls apart around Kutcher with some of the worst dialogue of the 2010s so far. Yet there’s something ultimately keening about Kutcher in the role; it’s the kind of thing you could imagine schools playing in 10 to 15 years on a rainy day, to give younger kids an overview of just who and what Steve Jobs was.
Which brings us to the (possible) latest version of Steve Jobs so far: Christian Bale. It seems like the perfect fit. Both are prone to screaming fits, both prefer black outfits, and both put out about one really interesting thing every four years. Bale is also known for going deep into character when he’s in a role, so it’ll be interesting to imagine the actor wandering around a Cupertino, Calif. office building eating nothing but fruit and soaking his feet in the company toilets for several months to “get into character.” He hasn’t been officially attached to the role yet (Leonardo DiCaprio just bounced out of the project recently) but there’s no denying that Bale and Jobs look eerily similar.
The difficult yet brilliant actor would probably have a field day playing the difficult yet brilliant Jobs. Bale, if you’re reading this, and we don’t doubt that you are, take the role. You’re one of the few actors we’d like to see get angry at an iPhone for 90 minutes, and that’s saying something about you and Jobs’ talent.