Not many actors get to experience a convergence of real life and working at their craft as perfect as the one Ashton Kutcher went through when he won the part of Apple honcho Steve Jobs.
Kutcher, a big-time techno freak, was thrilled to play the man who changed the world with such groundbreaking products as the personal computer and the iPod. He also got to stretch his acting wings with his portrayal of such a complicated character.
In “Jobs,” the brilliant innovator is shown warts and all, as a wide-eyed young man brimming with new ideas, and as a coldhearted, backstabbing company man. Kutcher, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jobs, recently spoke about the man and the role in New York.
You did a lot of research on Steve Jobs. Was there anything you were really surprised to learn about him?
The thing that I probably least expected to find was his perspective on education. I found a speech that he gave when he was about 25. He was speaking to a bunch of high school kids that were about to graduate, and were getting ready to go to all these great schools. Steve got up front of them and said, “You know, a lot of the really successful people I know didn’t go to school, didn’t get a degree. They had a broad set of life experiences that enabled them to bring something valuable, something that people with just standardized education couldn’t bring.” He encouraged these kids to maybe go to Paris and try to write poetry, or fall in love with two people at one time, or try LSD like Walt Disney did when he came up with the idea for “Fantasia.” He said that maybe standard education wasn’t the best means to creative solutions, but rather a diverse set of experiences in life could be the greatest education that you could have.
He’s not exactly painted as a saint here. What did you think about him as a character?
I never met him, but I certainly admire the work that he did. One of the first things you learn as an actor is you never judge your character. We as human beings are flawed, and most of the time, when we’re making choices and decisions, we feel that we’re behaving in the right way, in a justified way. There were some things where Steve Jobs’ approach seemed very blunt and unkind. However, it was that same blunt discernment that allowed him to create the amazing products he created. It was that same demand for perfection, and demand for people to elevate their game to the best of their ability that allowed his teams to create these products that we all take for granted.
How did you go about getting down his mannerisms?
Page 2 of 2 - I wanted to honor this guy. And because he’s so well documented, I couldn’t afford to not resemble him. I started by learning everything I could about him – by reading books and watching video and listening to people tell stories, and the script was an extraordinary resource. Then I started studying the entrepreneurs that he admired and listening to the music he listened to and eating the food he ate. I started wearing Birkenstocks and walking without shoes on and going for one-hour walks every day, trying to walk like he walked.
Are there any personality traits you have that are similar to those of Steve Jobs?
I have a passion for technology. I went to school to become a biochemical engineer, so I know a little bit about engineering. And I have a passion for art and the arts and creativity. I think that Steve understood and appreciated those things. Beyond that, I love creating efficiencies in my own life on a day-to-day basis, and I love solving big problems.
What do you mean by efficiencies?
I bought a house five minutes away from my work so I didn’t have to drive in traffic. I figured out a way to organize my closet so that I can wake up and get dressed in the order that I like to dress. I can start at one end of the closet, move to the other, and by the end, I’m done. I have things set up so that I can wake up and get out of my house in about four minutes and get to work within 12 minutes – from the time I wake up. So I try to do a lot and accomplish a lot in a short period of time.
“Jobs” opens Aug. 16.