When I first heard they were going to make a movie about Steve Jobs, and that the gifted Aaron Sorkin would be writing the script, and the reliable Danny Boyle would be directing it, I was thrilled. Steve Jobs would make a wonderful subject.
After all, if they can do a movie about Walt Disney (with Tom Hanks playing Walt) and one about MacDonald's hamburger mogul Ray Kroc (with Michael Keaton playing Kroc), why not a movie about one of the greatest technological innovators of the last half-century?
But when I heard Michael Fassbender was going to play the lead, I am not exaggerating when I say that I thought it was someone's idea of a joke. I honestly thought it was a gag. It was sort of like being told Jim Carrey was going to be cast as the lead in The Albert Einstein Story.
As professional and respected as Fassbender undoubtedly is, bless his heart, the man is functionally incapable of expressing even a fraction of the intensity that Steve Jobs exuded (and Jobs was nothing if not intense). Indeed, Fassbender seems almost robotic on the screen. Maybe that's why people liked him in Prometheus. He played an android.
I realize there's no accounting for taste. I realize some people didn't think Marlon Brando could act, and that some people (including a friend of mine) actually thought Orca was a better movie than Jaws, but I can't understand how anyone figured Fassbender could play Steve Jobs. On the other hand, kudos to Fassbender's agent for landing him this role. It was the coup of the decade.
Anyone who doubts what I'm saying needs to watch the movie, The Counselor, starring Fassbender in the title role. Just watch that movie and judge for yourself. I'm not suggesting that Fassbender should have wept, or hammed it up, or chewed the scenery, but he definitely needed to "emote." Instead, the man appeared close to comatose.
Despite Fassbender's character (a shady lawyer) being pursued by the fiercest and most single-mindedly homicidal people on earth (and his woman presumably in danger of having her pretty head cut off), Fassbender not only doesn't seem particularly agitated, he barely changes expression. Indeed, his "ironic" facial gestures were almost laughable.
So let's cut to the chase. Who would have been a better choice than Fassbender to play Steve Jobs ? Well, it goes without saying that that's a very complicated matter, one that is almost too subjective and multifaceted to be discussed meaningfully.
Fortunately, I'm willing to discuss it. They should have cast Giovanni Ribisi as Steve Jobs. Look him up on IMDb. Ribisi is an "actor," not a "movie star." No, his name on the marquee won't attract hordes of people, but unlike Fassbender, he can project intensity without appearing to strain. He's a natural.
In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that, if Steve Jobs could have personally picked the actor to play himself in a movie, there's no way he would have chosen Fassbender. Not since John Wayne played Genghis Khan (in The Conqueror) has an actor been more poorly cast.