At the end of October, Christian Bale decided not to take on the role of Steve Jobs. For at least several weeks, he had been attached to a biopic that Sony was developing with writer Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle. But despite liking both mens' vision for the film, Bale couldn't get a fix on the part, according to his agent, and communicated that he was opting out.
Bale’s choice shouldn’t have been fatal. Though the Oscar winner came with plenty of bona fides, the Jobs picture has long been a priority for Sony, and there were presumably plenty of top actors who craved this kind of juicy role. This should have been an easy fix.
Yet barely three weeks later, producer Scott Rudin and Sony chief Amy Pascal, who have known each other and worked together for decades, had come to a kind of virtual fisticuffs. In a widely publicized email, Pascal urgently queried “why are u punishing me?” as Rudin took the film to Universal, saying she had acted "abominably."
What happened in that short period is one of the more intriguing backstage mysteries to hit the entertainment business in some time. Even in an industry in which vague words like "vision" and "creative direction" regularly stand in for the real reasons people do or don’t want to make a movie, the Jobs drama offered a new standard for quiet agendas and hidden reasons. This was a movie that everyone involved with was eager to make — and everyone not involved with it wished they could make. And yet in the bat of an eye, the film had imploded spectacularly.
Certainly bad blood played a role in the toppling; as illuminated by the publication of email exchanges on the website Defamer (largely about an earlier version of the project involving director David Fincher), tensions and insults had been running high for some time. (The film has now been resurrected at Universal and is moving ahead apace there.)
Yet an examination by The Times of the newly disclosed emails between numerous parties suggests the reasons for the collapse were far more complicated than personal friction. As the forces of celebrity, distribution, money, intellectual property and financing all squared off, an elaborate game of poker was taking shape.
The events suggest with unusually specific detail how movies come to be (or don’t come to be), how fragile all Hollywood productions are (especially high-end, filmmaker-driven movies set up at the studios), the intangible science of determining an actors’ worth (creatively and financially) and just how easily potential classics could turn into potential duds (or nothing at all).
The details also highlight how tricky it is, in the current tent-pole climate, to put together a fact-based drama. As much as these pictures seem like easy Oscar bait, studios and financiers fear sinking too much money into unknown commodities and tussle over relatively small sums that would be rounding errors on franchise films. Actors, meanwhile, furrow their brows at the idea of negotiating the film’s real-life politics.
With that in mind, this is an account of the Jobs project facts as they unfolded last month. Representatives of Sony, Rudin, Boyle and the actors declined to comment on the Jobs movie and its Sony demise.
Pascal is upset. Another top actor has vacated the company’s beloved Jobs biopic — Christian Bale, who earlier in the year had garnered an Oscar nomination for the studio and of whom Sorkin had already made the rare pre-production pledge that he would “crush it.” Bale’s departure comes on the heels of a Jobs exit by Leonardo DiCaprio, who in September decided, after months of deliberation, that he didn’t want to make the movie either.
Playing the man who gave us the Mac and the iPhone would seem like the role of a lifetime, and yet it isn't turning out that way. Pascal tells Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton she’s concerned that the project can’t seem to hang on to an actor. Lynton wonders if Laurene Powell Jobs, the Apple founder’s widow who is apparently not enamored of the project, has been reaching out to actors to dissuade them.
Boyle has made up his mind on his new choice for Steve Jobs: He wants Michael Fassbender, the Irish-German actor whose stock has been rising with roles in the “X-Men” series and the 2014 best picture winner “12 Years a Slave.” But several people on the film remain unconvinced. Sorkin is very excited about the idea of Tom Cruise and is trying to convince the likes of Rudin, Pascal and Boyle. Mark Gordon, who is also producing the film, is similarly unmoved by Fassbender. Sony executive Michael De Luca, however, disagrees. He tells Pascal he thinks Fassbender is up to the challenge, what with praiseworthy roles in movies like “Jane Eyre” and “12 Years.”
And because no Hollywood story is complete without a guest appearance from James Franco, the actor’s agent chimes in to try to get his client on the film. This does not lead very far.
A new wrinkle has emerged. DiCaprio’s manager Rick Yorn has told Sony he’d be willing to broach the movie once again with his client. The actor has functioned as a kind of white knight through much of the process — everyone agrees they could justify the movie at a hefty budget with DiCaprio, and the prospect of him returning has Sony executives giddy. With DiCaprio, the studio would have a top-tier star who could pull in box office, particularly overseas, and who could bring artistic chops to boot.
Whether the actor will actually commit, though, is another matter. He’s been equivocal for much of the development period and is tied up on an intense new Alejandro G. Inarritu movie until spring. At one point in September, Boyle's agent had tried to lure him back, to little avail. Just the same, De Luca offers an “Omg!!!!!” in response to the news. But Rudin is skeptical. Yorn also suggests to Pascal that he can entice Scarlett Johansson, another client, to play opposite DiCaprio, in what would be a big A-list pairing. Pascal sounds over the moon to Yorn — she says she would “drive over to your house with a check for both of them” — but she notes to Lynton it all may be “pie in the sky.” Pascal also says that Johansson is “a little freaked out” that the film doesn’t have Laurene Powell Jobs’ blessing.
Los Angeles Times
Why Sony's Steve Jobs movie fell apart
Los Angeles Times
At the end of October, Christian Bale decided not to take on the role of Steve Jobs. For at least several weeks, ... Lynton wonders if Laurene Powell Jobs, the Apple founder's widow who is apparently not enamored of the project, has been reaching out ...
I did not begin 2014 by imagining that the most resonant movie moment of the 12 months to come would be a quiet, resigned stare-down in a bathroom. But it has been that kind of year. Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Birdman tells the story of an actor trying to ...
NBC's Robert Greenblatt Brings Broadway to TV
Robert Greenblatt believes he can solve the problem that has long befuddled TV executives: how to successfully bring actors from Broadway to Hollywood. Since the days of black-and-white ... While the chairman of NBC Entertainment has a long television ...
Ashland Daily Tidings
Silvio Calabi: The world loves a Wrangler
Ashland Daily Tidings
But to the Jeep faithful, this is like fretting about Megan Fox's IQ — who cares? Like a date with Ms. Fox, this machine is a fantasy, an automotive costume meant to tell the world something about us and what we like. All Wranglers are the lineal ...
Megan Fox no longer enjoys acting
In an interview with Parents, Megan Fox discusses how becoming a parent has affected her work as an actress, revealing that she no longer really enjoys her work. "It's so hard to be a working mom," she says, "especially when your heart is not in your ...
Megan Fox No Longer Enjoys Acting; Says Her Heart Isn't In It
Megan Fox on Prioritizing Her Family Over Her Career; Says Her Heart Is with ...
Megan Fox Reveals Her Heart Is No Longer In Acting
Megan Fox faces Botox accusations as German fans struggle to recognise her
While her natural beauty has been celebrated with much enthusiasm since her rise to fame, her notably smooth appearance in Berlin has placed her at the centre of Botox rumours once again. Megan Fox, 28, raised eyebrows when she attended a photocall ...
James Franco gushes over Megan Fox as they pose on Zeroville set
In a picture posted to the social-media site, the 36-year-old James sat with his Zeroville co-star, 28-year-old Megan Fox. With his ... Perhaps because he was so busy both acting and directing for Zeroville, James offered only a brief caption to the ...
Megan Fox shows off blood-splattered physique on Zeroville set with James ...
The Pineapple Express actor bought the film rights in 2011 with the intent to direct, as previously reported by Variety. The story follows 24-year-old student Vikar (James) who shows up in Hollywood in 1969 and attempts to make it in the movie business.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Will Arnette and Megan Fox land in Sydney
Despite being a world famous pinup, Megan won't be showing much skin in the upcoming flick, according to director Jonathan Liebesman. 'Megan's obviously incredibly sexy, [but] that to me is not what Megan is about,' he said at a press conference for ...
Jet-set Megan Fox was not so foxy as she flew out of Sydney and was almost ...
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stars Megan Fox and Will Arnett talk body image ...
#Throwback Thursday: Remember When Shia LaBeouf Claimed To Have Done ...
While Shia has many bad boy moments to choose from, we're most interested in the first time he truly set Hollywood ablaze with a VERY juicy scandal involving his Transformers co-star, the vivacious Megan Fox. In 2011, Shia strongly hinted at a sexual ...