In ‘Jobs,’ Ashton Kutcher explores the man behind the Apple mogul
Ashton Kutcher knows you’re skeptical of his ability of portray Steve Jobs. But that only further motivated him to effectively honor the late Apple great.
“It sucks to be judged before you even have a chance to prove yourself, but that’s the world that we live in,” the 35-year-old actor says. “For those people, their day will come when people judge them and want to hold their feet to the fire for mistakes or something they haven’t done yet. I like a good challenge — tell me I can’t do something.”
To play the tech wiz in “Jobs” — which chronicles Apple’s beginnings and the business obstacles that came after it found success — Kutcher threw himself into the lifestyle that Jobs led, even landing in the emergency room after following the fruitarian diet Jobs advocated.
“I read a book by this guy Arnold Ehret, which was a book that Steve read, called ‘The Mucusless Diet Healing System,’” Kutcher recalls. “I think the guy who wrote that book was pretty misinformed and my insides got messed up and my pancreas kind of went crazy. The levels were really off and it was really painful.”
But not uprooting his life to become the Apple mogul was out of the question, Kutcher says, because “he’s so well documented I couldn’t afford not to resemble him.”
Indeed, stepping into that black turtleneck (at least for one scene) was a character study for Kutcher, who says he had never met Jobs and only “had a mild appreciation for the products he created.” But shedding light on Jobs the human, who had flaws just like the rest of us, was important to the actor.
“I just wanted to honor his legacy and do so honestly,” he says. “I didn’t want to glorify him. I didn’t want to vilify him. I just wanted to tell the truth. There’s a lot of conflicting stories, but we just try to tell the most honest interpretation of his story that we could.”
Some might be surprised to see those less-than-admirable moments play out on screen, like when Jobs’ temper gets the best of him. But Kutcher says there was a method to the genius’ madness.
“I think the thing that people misunderstand about Steve is, you see these old-school football coaches screaming at their players, but their whole goal is to make the players better,” he says. “The players, when they win, they actually appreciate that. … Sometimes he would run over the family in an effort to save the baby. He had a blunt honesty that most people are afraid to have. He actually cared enough about the end result that it was OK if you didn’t like him if he got the result that he was seeking.”
During our chat, Kutcher had his white iPhone out on the table — but the actor swears he can go without Jobs’ arguably most indispensable invention.
“I can live without it,” he says. “I actually test that once a year. I do a week of technology cleansing. I put my iPhone away, don’t turn on the TV, no music, no anything, and try to get all that stuff out of my life — eliminate the distractions and make sure that I’m still focused on the things I want to be focusing on. A lot of times these things become everybody else’s to-do list for you and they become great distractions and things that prevent you from being in the moment. And also, I have a little bit of a survivalist part of me that wants to know that if everything else falls apart, can I still maintain myself and the people I care for?”