Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of late Apple founder Steve Jobs, apparently devoted a great deal of time and energy to obstructing Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s biopic about her husband—up to and including calling potential stars and urging them not to play him in the film. According to a Hollywood Reporter profile on the rocky production of Steve Jobs—which hopped studios, lost the interest of Sorkin’s Social Network colleague David Fincher, and struggled for years to find the right actor to play the iPod wunderkind—Powell Jobs called up both Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale and urged them not to take the role.
She wasn’t the only one who tried to get in the way of the movie, which documents the prickly Apple founder at three pivotal moments in his life, all tied to major technology presentations. Apple refused to license the famous “1984” ad to the production, and Jobs-affiliated Disney reportedly wouldn’t allow Boyle to use clips from ABC TV.
The film wasn’t merely opposed from the outside, either; the piece tracks the once-solid alliance between producer Scott Rudin and now-ousted Sony co-chair Amy Pascal, who ultimately passed on making the film over concerns about the budget, as well as the marketability of eventual star Michael Fassbender.
Also initially nervous about Fassbender: Aaron Sorkin, who had to issue an apology to the actor after his initial misgivings about his casting were made public in the Sony email hack. Sorkin says Fassbender responded to the mea culpa with, “Kind of a curt email. I could tell he was being polite. He was being professional. But he’d been stung, and I was going to be punished.” (The article doesn’t go into any detail about what, if any, form said punishment took, to the relief and/or regret of Fassbender fans everywhere.)
It’s not clear from the Hollywood Reporter piece whether similar pressures were put toward any of the other Steve Jobs movies that have cropped up in the last few years—it’s possible that the film’s association with Walter Isaacson’s high-profile biography of the man lent it a more threatening vibe to those close to Jobs. (The other possibility is that Laurene Powell Jobs is a big Dude, Where’s My Car? fan, and was too excited to see Ashton Kutcher play her late husband to protest the making of Jobs.)