Fans know funny guys Ashton Kutcher from That ’70s Show and Two and a Half Men, and Josh Gad from Broadway’s Book of Mormon and TV’s 1600 Penn, but they come together as a rolled up ball of friendship and genius-level nerd-tech intelligence as Apple co-founders Steve Jobs (Kutcher) and Steve Wozniak (Gad) — aka Woz — in jOBS, premiering Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie hits theaters April 19.
Check out this exclusive clip from the movie, below, of Kutcher — all bright-eyed, bearded, and enthusiastic as Jobs — heatedly discussing with Gad’s Woz — less bright-eyed, and more puffy haired — in the parking lot of Hewlett Packard a new real-time computer operating system Woz created. “This is freedom! This is freedom to create, and to do and to build, as artists, as individuals,” exclaims Kutcher in the clip. “Look! You’re over-reacting! Even if you were developing this for freaks like us, and I doubt you are, nobody wants to buy a computer, nobody!” Gad shouts back. To which Kutcher replies, with all the passion of the real Jobs, “How does somebody know what they want if they’ve never ever seen it?”
EW chatted with Gad leading up to the festival about his role as Woz, working with Kutcher, and what it’s been like to jump from comedy into dramatic territory like jOBS.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Josh, you play Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in jOBS, premiering at Sundance, opposite Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs. There’s been so much buzz about the film, and Ashton in the role.
JOSH GAD: I think that there is a lot of mystery and there’s a lot of pre-loaded expectation based on Ashton’s body of work of what his version of Jobs will be like. Ashton is nothing short of extraordinary and transformational in this movie. What I’m looking forward to is sitting in a theater of awestruck viewers. … He has so fully embodied this persona. Ashton absolutely became the character on the set. He’s one of the most giving actors I’ve ever worked with. His level of commitment forced everyone else to rise up.
What was it like for you taking on the role of Woz? He’s a living, known figure, which adds pressure when it comes to a portrayal on film.
I delved in headfirst. I didn’t know much about the story except that I’m a huge Mac fan. I have to buy anything with that logo on it. … He’s created such an unbelievable thing, that you have to be a part of it. When I got the role I knew if I was going to do it, I had to do my work, such as reading iWOZ, his book, and the Walter Isaacson book [Steve Jobs], and watching hours of footage. He has this particular voice, this Northern California type of thing and a Midwest thing going on. … For the first week of shooting, we went to Jobs’ family home where he and Woz and the rest of the team worked on the very first Apple. It was eerie and exciting and invigorating, and walking into a door into the past.
Have you seen the entire movie yet? How did you and Ashton go about portraying that well documented friction and friendship between Woz and Jobs?
I have not seen the full film yet. I asked not to see the full film until Sundance. I hate watching myself period. It’s one of those things. You always immediately start regretting choices you make. From what I’ve seen, I’m very proud and happy of this particular film. … The first half of the film is really a sort of love story between these two guys. They came together with a vision. That love story, like many great love stories, has heartache and pain. What was most staggering to me doing the research was how much a friendship could be so strong and how a partnership could break apart. These two personalities who so complimented each other, so ying and yang to each other’s persona, could go each a separate way. That’s at the core of the film. It’s really fascinating and heartbreaking.
They’re physically so different, and personality wise too, it seems. Again, playing real people, and especially powerful people, comes with a degree of expectation. There’s The Social Network, which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg criticized for its portrayal of him.
Early on, Ashton and I sat down and actually had a three-hour discussion about those two guys and what we were setting out to do with those roles. You do to some extent need to havecreative license with these things. Steve Wozniak is an iconic personality, and Steve Jobs is obviously Steve Jobs. … I decided I would bring the absolute truth to Steve Wozniak based on his own words, based on interviews. You could do the vocal affectations, but what was most important to me was telling the story. It’s telling his version of the story as best I’m able to do it. I definitely feel I’m doing a great service to his legacy while putting my stamp on it.
Both you and Ashton are known for doing comedy. How was it jumping into more dramatic territory?
I’m looking forward to breaking the ice a bit with audiences who think they know me. Hollywood is the kind of place that takes what you do well in one thing and manufactures it so the joy can be taken out of it. I went to drama school for four years at Carnegie Mellon, conservatory training before television comedy. I was doing Shakespeare and Chekov plays. It’s about delivering on the promise of a $100,000 education and taking the shackles off and trying the hand at my craft. I’m thrilled with what I’ve seen so far. It’s a much different side than what anyone’s seen of me. The personality of Wozniak for those who know him is so goofy and so fun loving. Everyone who knows him talks about his pranks. … There’s an innocence to him that I do love playing in all of my roles. That naiveté, as I call it. There’s an element of that that the two of us have.
I know you don’t want to reveal much, before the movie’s premiere, but can you mention a particular moment in the film that hit you hard, as an actor, that shows the connection between you and Ashton as Woz and Jobs?
There is a moment, a pretty heart breaking moment, when Jobs and Wozniak have to essentially come to terms with where they’re at in their lives. I remember the entire crew breaking down and crying. It was towards the end of filming. If you can have that sort ofepiphany that everybody who is seeing this in the moment is truly moved enough that they’re brought to tears, you realize you’ve done your job. The scene itself is very emotionally charged. It was kind of cathartic. It wasn’t those full shoots where you describe it as “This is so much fun!” It was intense. We knew this story was important to a hell of a lot of people. It was a cathartic moment. You’re building up to this thing and it happens, and I felt, and hopefully audiences will agree, that hopefully this is different.
What’s been the reaction from Wozniak, his family, and Steve Jobs’ family? Have any of them seen the movie yet?
None of them have seen it. This movie doesn’t pull any punches. If you’ve read the book by Isaacson you can say that Jobs wasn’t a fuzzy guy or a guy you wanted to get a drink with. He left a lot of people in a lot of pain. Having said that, he was one of the most extraordinary people anyone’s ever seen. I don’t think that this movie is trying to paint him in any light other than a realistic one. I think Steve Jobs and ultimately Steve Wozniak would give this their stamp of approval.