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Steve Jobs film 'like writing about the Beatles' says Sorkin

Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin reveals his creative process -- watching ESPN -- and how daunting Steve Jobs is.

Nick Hide Managing copy editor
Nick manages CNET's advice copy desk from Springfield, Virginia. He's worked at CNET since 2005.
Expertise Copy editing, football, Civilization and other old-man games, West Wing trivia
Nick Hide
2 min read

Writing the Steve Jobs biopic is as daunting as writing about the best-loved band of all time, according to Oscar-winning Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin, who's signed on to produce a movie script about the Apple chief's life.

"There are so many people who know so much about him and who revere him, and I just saw a minefield of disappointment," Sorkin told Walt Mossberg at AllThingsD's D10 event, perhaps underestimating the number of people who disliked Jobs' abrasive, often dismissive manner.

Sorkin, whose writing credits include A Few Good Men and The West Wing, said he would "identify the point of friction that appeals to me [in Jobs' story] and dramatise it". The movie, produced by Sony, will be based on Walter Isaacson's recent biography.

"Anytime you're at the movies, and you see the words 'the following is based on a true story', you should think about it as a painting, not a photograph," he said, warning fans not to expect a comprehensive bullet-point list of Jobs' achievements. Certainly there are plenty of people who dispute The Social Network's depiction of Mark Zuckerberg as an embittered loner.

"With as little as I know about the Steve Jobs movie, I know this for sure: I can't judge the character," Sorkin said. "He has to be a hero, I have to find the parts of him that are like me; I have to defend this character. You want to write the character as if they are making the case to God why they should be allowed into heaven."

The project is at its early stages, he revealed, with no one yet cast as Jobs. "I will be going through a long period that would not look to the casual observer like writing. It will look more like watching ESPN. To the untrained eye, it would look like watching college football. It's a process of procrastination."

Sorkin's movie isn't the only one in development about the Apple founder, with Twitter's Ashton Kutcher set to don the polo neck in an upcoming outing. "One thing I know for sure about Steve Jobs is that he's a big enough person and led a big enough life that there's room for more than one movie," Sorkin said.

"I'm all but computer illiterate, which I'm not proud of," said Sorkin, who is amazed that 3-and-a-half-year-olds can resonate with computers right away. "If I could ask Steve Jobs anything, it would be, 'What's that magic trick?'"

Check out Sorkin's impressive tan in the video below. What would you want a Jobs movie to be about? Is there a particular point in his life that would make great drama? Draft your plot in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.