Yesterday we learned that with David Fincher out of the running, Danny Boyle is in talks to direct the Steve Jobs biopic penned by Aaron Sorkin. Last night at a Tribeca Film Festival event, the screenwriter sat down with Jon Favreau — the former Obama speechwriter, not the director — to discuss his work. Sorkin told the audience that he wasn’t going to break any news about the Jobs project, but he did drop a few tidbits about the script.
“It's very, very exciting,” Sorkin said. “It's not a biopic. It's not the story of Steve Jobs. It's something much different than that." It’s safe to assume that is a reference to the script’s unconventional structure: three long scenes, unfolding in real time, that take place before the launch of three major projects — the Mac, NeXT, and iPod. I don’t know how you can title your script Steve Jobs and then say it doesn’t tell the story of Steve Jobs, but it’s always nice to see a “biopic” that doesn’t follow the boilerplate rise, fall, redemption structure (check out Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould for an excellent example). Sorkin has played around with long scenes before, but they’ve always been broken up with flashbacks or cuts to other characters. If the movie is really three long, completely unbroken scenes, it'll be interesting to see what exactly plays out in those scenes. He said that Jobs was “a fascinating guy, surrounded by fascinating people, and he had very interesting relationships with the people in his life.” And all of his interesting relationships began, climaxed, and ended in the 30 minutes before his major project launches, which was a lucky break for the writer.
Whatever it actually looks like, he is happy with the script. “One of the things that really excites me about Steve Jobs is, it is one of the very few times I ended up writing what I set out to write when I began. It's an incredibly satisfying feeling." Hopefully it will be satisfying for audiences as well. Sorkin has taken a lot of guff for his highly distinctive style, and some of it is deserved, but you really can’t deny that he is a talented writer. I loved his collaboration with Fincher on The Social Network because the director’s strong vision brought something new to Sorkin’s style and really elevated it. Whether the studio goes with Boyle or someone else, I hope it’s someone just as strong as Fincher. I wouldn’t want it to play like a really long episode of one of Sorkin’s TV shows.