The following is a script from "Steve Jobs" which aired on Feb. 21, 2016. Steve Kroft is the correspondent. Michael Karzis, producer.
The Academy Awards are next Sunday night, but its possible now to make one prediction: the broadcast will last about three hours and much of it will be taken up by acceptance speeches and thank yous. That's because all movies are collaborations in which many people deserve credit, even if they are not nominated.
The best example this year may be "Steve Jobs," a complex and cautionary character study of the Apple cofounder that generated critical acclaim, disappointing receipts at the box office, and two of the best performances of the year. Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet are both up for Oscars, not just because they are great actors, but because they had very demanding roles in a very unusual movie that allowed them to show just how good they really are and that would not have happened without screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle.
["Steve Jobs" movie clip: "For a given clock rate a power PC chip is twice as fast as a Pennium 2 chip."]
It was by every measure a unique and ambitious project about the inner workings of a recently deceased genius. Someone who saw the future, and built it by breathing life into the personal computer, defining how it would be used and selling the idea to the American public.
["Steve Jobs" movie clip: "See how this reminds you of a friendly face, but the disk slot is a goofy grin? It's warm, and it's playful, and it needs to say hello."]
Unlike many Hollywood films, "Steve Jobs" wasn't built around a star. It was built around a massive theatrical script from Academy Award-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin on the right, then placed in the hands of Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle on the left.
Danny Boyle: Everybody knows Aaron Sorkin's scripts. There's a huge amount of lines. There's a huge amount of interchange. You gotta do a lot of learning to be able to get it up to pace.
To begin with there were more than 180 pages of dialogue, nearly twice the size of an average script, a drama in three acts that takes place backstage at three different product launches spanning 14 years in Steve Jobs' life. It is two hours of talk... intelligent, often humorous conversation and adversarial confrontation.
["Steve Jobs" movie clip: "You had three weeks. The universe was created in a third of that time." Andy Hertzfeld: "Well, someday you'll have to tell us how you did it."]
It was the director's job to bring action and movement to the Sorkin script, which read like the sound of Steve Jobs mind.
"Everybody knows Aaron Sorkin's scripts. There's a huge amount of lines. There's a huge amount of interchange. You gotta do a lot of learning to be able to get it up to pace."
["Steve Jobs" movie clip: "Everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone is waiting for the Mac."]
Danny Boyle: It's this-- this tormented mind and what's involved in the process, as-- he saw it, of changing the world, you know. And he did change the world back then. And-- and how do you do that? And it's that fevered mind.
["Steve Jobs" movie clip: "We're there?" Andy Hertzfeld: "I need more time." Steve Jobs: "You can't have it." Andy Hertzfeld: "Twenty minutes!"]
When it came to casting the lead, Boyle thought there was only a tiny number of people who could pull off the complicated and demanding role. He was less interested in landing someone who looked like Steve Jobs than finding a committed actor determined to convince people he was Steve Jobs.
["Steve Jobs" movie clip: "Two most significant events of the twentieth century - the Allies win the war and this."]
He decided on Michael Fassbender, the rising Irish star with the German surname and a work ethic like the man he was picked to play.
Danny Boyle: He has a very kind of Jobsian approach, I think. He's so focused and uncompromising about the way he does the work.
Steve Kroft: Is this the most complicated thing you've ever done?
Michael Fassbender: It's the hardest thing I've ever done.
Fassbender had been praised for his part in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Bastards"...
["Inglorious Bastards" movie clip: "Well if this is it old boy, I hope you don't mind if I go out speaking the kings."]
And he received an Academy Award-nomination for his supporting role in "12 Years a Slave." His range runs from Macbeth to Magneto the Villain in the X-Men action franchise but Steve Jobs was going to be different.
Michael Fassbender: It was like an action piece in words. You know--
Steve Kroft: No-- no exploding cars.
Michael Fassbender: No.
Steve Kroft: No sex.
Michael Fassbender: Nope.
Steve Kroft: Not ev-- any romance.
Michael Fassbender: Mmmm. Yeah. So, I was, like, "Perfect. This is gonna be great." Yeah, it was just-- it was such an unusual piece of writing.
Danny Boyle: 'Cause it was such an enormous, it was like tackling a huge-- one of the big Shakespeare's, like a Lear or--
Michael Fassbender: Yeah.
Danny Boyle: --a Hamlet. Or, you know, it's like a mountain to climb.
Kate Winslet first heard that the Steve Jobs movie was casting not from her agent or producer Scott Rudin, but from her hair and makeup person while shooting a film in Australia.
Kate Winslet: I just knew that it was going to be electric to be in a room with Michael Fassbender and Danny Boyle. And I honestly promise you, it absolutely was.
Winslet, who has one Oscar already to go with six nominations, can have just about any role in Hollywood she wants...
Movie Clip - Joanna Hoffman: "We're out of time, they've got to mop the floor..."
But no one seemed to be thinking about her for this one, the part of Apple marketing whiz Joanna Hoffman, who was one of the few people who could handle Steve Jobs.
Steve Kroft: You did want to do this movie. You sought out the role, right?
Kate Winslet: I--yes. I-- I offered my-- offered my services and-- let it be known that should they be interested in casting completely against type and considering the blonde English woman to play the dark-haired Polish Armenian, I'd be delighted.
With some wit and an iPhone, she managed to get their attention.
Kate Winslet: I gave them a little bit of a nudge. And I-- I put a dark-haired wig on myself and some glasses and made myself look as much like the real Joanna Hoffman as I possibly could. And I took a selfie and sent it to Scott Rudin, And it seemed to do the trick. And Danny Boyle came to Australia and we had a meeting. And he asked me to play the role.
By the time, Kate Winslet arrived in San Francisco to begin shooting, she and the rest of the cast had read the script and realized they were facing a huge challenge -- a fast -paced drama that unfolds in hallways, on staircases and in dressing rooms. Winslet, who's character was a composite of the strong women in Jobs' life, found it all a bit terrifying.
Steve Kroft: Why terrifying?
Kate Winslet: Terrifying because-- it's 187-page script. And it flows. There's a rhythm to it. There's a pace to it that has to feel entirely accidental and fluid. And the only way to really honor that and respect those words is to know them and to not forget them. That's the hardest part.
["Steve Jobs" movie clip - Joanna Hoffman: "Start 15 minutes late so Avie can recompile..." Steve interrupts. Joanna Hoffman: "Just at least give us a fighting chance." Steve Jobs: "Jesus Christ, how many times have we had this conversation?" Joanna Hoffman: "Fine!" Steve Jobs: "We're not starting late ever, we're not ever starting late."]
Kate Winslet: Because if you forget even one word, one line, or you pause for just too long while sort of trying to remember what comes next, the whole thing unravels.
Danny Boyle who spent years directing at the Royal Court Theatre in London knew exactly what his actors were up against and got the studio to agree to a costly six weeks of rehearsal. The cast would learn one act at a time, then film it in sequence.
Danny Boyle: I couldn't see any other way that the actors would be able to control this beast, this huge beast of-- this extraordinary-- dialogue that he'd written as a way into this man's mind. And I thought the only way the actors can get on top of it and own it, which is the key, I think, is by breaking it down and letting us rehearse.
Kate Winslet: We rehearsed the first scene-- well, act, first scene. And we got it-- as-- we got it down. And then we went and filmed it. And then filming would stop, and we would go back and we would shoot-- we would rehearse the second part. And then we would go in and shoot that. And then filming would stop again. And so there's this crew on hiatus while we would go off and rehearse again for another 12 days. And then we'd go back in and shoot. So by the time we got onto the set, we were already on performance number 50, because we had been doing it for two weeks straight.
Fassbender who had by far the most lines saw Steve Jobs as a great man and a flawed human being. A visionary and a vainglorious control freak.
["Steve Jobs" movie clip - Steve Jobs: "What size shirt do you wear?" Man: "Me?" Steve Jobs: "Does anyone know what size shirt he wears? Does anyone know what size shirt I wear?" Joanna Hoffman: "Does anyone know where the closest psychiatrist is?" Steve Jobs: "The disk fits in your pocket." Joanna Hoffman: "Does it have to be a white shirt, is blue ok?" Steve Jobs: "No. The Mac is beige, I'm beige. The disk is blue. The shirt has to be white."]
A brilliant motivator and recruiter of talent...
"Steve Jobs" movie clip: "That was cool!"
Who could be an unreasonable boss, an indifferent father and an unreliable friend.
["Steve Jobs" Movie clip - Steve Wozniak: "You know when people used to ask me what the difference was between me and Steve Jobs I would say Steve was the big picture guy and I liked the solid work bench. When people ask me what the difference is now, I say Steve's an asshole."]
Steve Kroft: He's not a very sympathetic character.
Michael Fassbender: You say that. I-- yeah, I don't-- I find him to be. I think, you know, when you have such strong convictions and a lack of patience with-- that goes with it, and a sharp tongue and, you know, elements of cruelty perhaps, you know, it's-- it can come across as maybe a bit harsh for people to take onboard. I think he was an extraordinary person. And he changed the way we lived our lives. I never s-- looked at him or approached him as an unsavory character--
Steve Kroft: Unpleasant? Unsociable?
Michael Fassbender: --yeah, unsociable, I would say. Yeah. You know I suppose, approaching it as actor, unpleasant isn't really something that I want to set out to play, you know. I can't really play unpleasant. But if somebody said, "Play somebody who's got a lack of patience, who's very-- you know, got a very strong vision-- is unrelenting in that vision, you know, has a problem perhaps with emotional connection," now I'm going somewhere. Now I can start putting together something.
Fassbender believes Jobs' antisocial tendencies may have been a convenient way of putting distance between himself and other people, a way of managing their judgments and expectations of him.
[Movie clip - Andy Hertzfeld: "Why do you want people to dislike you?" Steve Jobs: "I don't want people to dislike me. I'm indifferent to whether they dislike me."]
All of this made little difference to Jobs' widow who was unhappy with her husband's portrayal. Apple refused to cooperate with the project. CEO Tim Cook called it opportunistic. For the most part the cast and Danny Boyle shrugged it off.
Danny Boyle: His importance to our world now is such that you can't ignore him. You have to write as much right about these guys-- and not just him, there are many, many other figures that are turning the world 'round, literally overnight. So for that reason, it felt like it was important to tell a story. There is a Steve that Apple would like to actually present to the public. They have a character, Steve, and they want to keep that story going. And it's very important that writers challenge that occasionally and not just trust their parent companies to tell them.
Danny Boyle has always had an aversion to that kind of power. A working class guy with no discernible ego, he joined the ranks of Britain's top directors after winning an Academy Award for "Slumdog Millionaire," and he became a national hero for directing the elaborate opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics in London. Then he became very famous for turning down a knighthood from the court of Queen Elizabeth.
Steve Kroft: You were offered a knighthood.
Danny Boyle: Yes, I was. But that-- it's not really the-- it's not my cup of tea, really. I feel very-- I d-- I feel very fake walking ar-- I find it difficult enough being called "Mr. Boyle," which as I age I'm increasingly called. I find that hard enough, anyway. So, any-- anything else, I-- I wouldn't be comfortable with.
Steve Kroft: Did you know this was in the works? Did you know this was coming? Or did your name just appear on this list?
Danny Boyle: No, no. You get a phone call.
Steve Kroft: And you just told 'em s-- flat out.
Danny Boyle: Yeah. And I-- and you get another phone call to see if you'd change your mind.
Steve Kroft: No regrets.
Danny Boyle: N-- well-- no, no. Not-- not-- not-- not at all, no. Absolutely not.
If either Michael Fassbender or Kate Winslet win an Oscar next Sunday, Mr. Boyle will likely be one of the first people thanked along with Aaron Sorkin. Neither were nominated this year. They all share some disappointment that more people haven't seen "Steve Jobs," but they all say its getting harder and harder to get people out of their houses and away from their TVs, premium cable and on demand services which is the marketplace "Steve Jobs" is now moving into hoping to find a brand new audience.
Kate Winslet: It was an amazing experience. I honestly couldn't have cared less if no one ever saw this film, because it was such an amazing experience to be a part of. I mean, there are so many reasons as an actor that I can-- I can march onward in my life and go, stake in the ground, "I'm proud of that."