Does Ashton Kutcher’s ‘Jobs’ give enough credit to Steve Wozniak?

Ashton Kutcher at a screening of "Jobs" in Chicago.
(Barry Brecheisen / Invision/Associated Press)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Even before the new biopic of Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher hits theaters, it’s stirring controversy over whether it gives enough credit to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Kutcher, who has the starring role in the film due out Aug. 16, was in San Francisco on Thursday night for a screening of the film.

He was accompanied by the film’s director, Joshua Michael Stern. Each spoke thoughtfully about Jobs’ complex legacy and his sometimes complicated relationships with Wozniak and early Apple employees.

Kutcher, who has received praise for his portrayal of of the technology icon, said the response from early Apple employees was enthusiastic. Two approached him after a screening to say: “Thank you for giving us two more hours of Steve,” Kutcher said.


Kutcher and Stern said they had reached out to Wozniak to consult on their film, but that he instead signed on as a consultant on Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, a big-budget biopic from Sony.

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In an interview, Wozniak said he was approached by the makers of “Jobs” but turned them down after reading an early version of the script.

Wozniak said he hasn’t seen the film and could not judge it, but objected to the way it reprocessed history in a two-minute trailer. In it, “Steve is lecturing me about where computers could go, when it was the other way around,” Wozniak said.

“Steve never created a great computer. In that period, he had failure after failure after failure. He had an incredible vision, but he didn’t have the ability to execute on it,” Wozniak said. “I would be surprised if the movie portrays the truth.”

Daniel Kottke, an early Apple employee who was a script consultant on the film, praised the fastidious attention to detail in parts of the film, especially its reconstruction of the moment when Apple introduces the Apple II at the West Coast Computer Faire.

Kottke had a cameo in the scene, filmed at the Pasadena Convention Center, for which he says he had no need for wardrobe help. He wore the same rimless glasses and clothes that he’d had on that very day in 1976: slacks and a Brooks Brothers button-down shirt that his father had given him.

But as someone who worked in that Los Altos garage side by side with Jobs and Wozniak, Kottke has strong feelings about lionizing Jobs at the expense of Wozniak.

He said that he asked the filmmakers to make changes that would give credit to Wozniak as an “equal visionary,” but that they did not respond.

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