The Surprising Reason Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio Turned Down ‘Steve Jobs’
Before Michael Fassbender was cast as Steve Jobs, the biopic went down a long and complicated road in pre-production. Directors (including David Fincher) were offered the job and passed. Actors (Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale and Natalie Portman, among them) were offered the title role and passed. With an Aaron Sorkin script we now know is very, very good, it’s surprising that so many talented people declined to participate in the movie. But, we now have an idea why these people decided to pass on Steve Jobs and it has nothing to do with the quality of the film.
A new Hollywood Reporter article on Danny Boyle’s film claims that Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene, personally called actors who were attached to the project and “begged” them not to do it.
According to one of their sources:
Since the very beginning, Laurene Jobs has been trying to kill this movie, OK? Laurene Jobs called Leo DiCaprio and said: ‘Don’t do it.’ Laurene Jobs called Christian Bale and said: ‘Don’t [do it].’
It turns out her impassioned pleas worked, and both Bale and DiCaprio passed (despite Bale far enough along in the production that he was reading with auditioning actors). Sony Pictures, who originally were developing the film before putting it in turnaround where it was picked up by Universal, were also the focus of the widow’s ire. Says a Sony executive:
She reached out; she had a strong desire not to have the movie made. But we said: ‘We’re going to move forward.’
Coincidentally, Sony did not move forward and as the film shifted to Universal, Jobs’ complaints seemed to quiet down (or Fassbender and Boyle were just better at ignoring them). Laurene Jobs isn’t the only one upset about Steve Jobs. Current Apple CEO Tim Cook told Stephen Colbert, “I think that a lot of people are trying to be opportunistic, and I hate this; it’s not a great part of our world.” Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive said, “There are sons and daughters and widows and very close friends that are […] completely upset,” adding that people left screenings “profoundly distressed.”
Despite the blowback from the Jobs’ estate, the film has gotten highly positive reviews (currently at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes) and could result in Oscar nominations for Fassbender and his co-star Kate Winslet.
Steve Jobs opened in theaters on October 9.