PARK CITY, Utah
Ashton Kutcher said he was “terrified – absolutely terrified” to portray Steve Jobs in the “Jobs” bio-pic. But in the process of immersing himself into persona of the Apple founder, he found he was also absorbing some of Jobs’ wisdom and life view.
In a Q&A session here after the movie’s premiere Jan. 25 at the Sundance Film Festival, Mr. Kutcher cited three major examples of Jobs’ values that have stuck with him.
First, Mr. Kutcher recalled something a co-worker had told him was the most powerful thing Jobs had ever said to him: “One day we were working on a project and Steve looked at me and said, ‘There’s no virtue in saying ‘no’ to the things that are easy to say no to.’
“I kind of sat on that for a second, and kind of thought about all the things I was trying to accomplish in my life, and how many times I have that thing,” Mr. Kutcher said, holding his right hand out in front of him, as if grasping for something, “that thing that I want to accomplish. And yet, other things come along.
“You think, that’s easy to say no to, that’s easy to say no to, but it’s that other thing that looks really great as well – it’s that other job, or that other opportunity,” he added, referring to tempting distractions from a primary goal, “something that looks really good. And it’s really hard to say no to that.
“But Steve’s ability to focus on a goal, and drive that goal – drive that vision – made me think about my life in a different way, as to when I want something.”
Secondly, Mr. Kutcher recalled a Jobs speech he recites in the film: “When you grow up and you think the world is just there, and you are going to just live in it. And once you drop that erroneous notion that the world is just there, and you just live it, you realize that everything around you is made by people who are no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it.”
He noted, “When I heard that, I realized that just really levels the playing field.”
Although he self-deprecatingly allowed that it might have been easier for Jobs to say such a thing because people around him may, indeed, not have been smarter, Mr. Kutcher added, “But in theory, it kind of takes you to a place where you realize, ‘I can do this; I can accomplish it.’ Even if it’s the role you are most terrified of doing.’”
The third thing, Mr. Kutcher said, “I think was the compassion he had for the people he was building something for. How much he just really cared about that. It wasn’t about – well, at times it may just have been about him – but ultimately I think it was about his desire to create something for other people that they can appreciate. So that ultimately he could feel that he had done that, and he was validated as a person, to whomever he may have felt he needed to be validated to.”
Mr. Kutcher considered that for a moment, then observed, “When we make movies, and we do projects and things like this,” he said, pointing to the screen where the movie had just been shown. “A lot of times it’s really easy to go, ‘Oh God, how was I? I hope I was okay.’ But that’s not the end goal. The end goal is to create something that you can share with people, that will move people, that may change them, or help them, and create a better life for them.”
He added, “To me, those three things are powerful values of Steve Jobs – that I got from working on this.”
Steve Jobs urged Apple’s customers to “Think Different.” It seems that philosophy has made a real-life difference for Mr. Kutcher.
January 27, 2013