While it has ultimately been decided that Michael Fassbender will be cast as Steve Jobs in the upcoming biopic about the late Apple co-founder, a leaked email exchange reveals that writer Aaron Sorkin originally had a more prominent actor in mind for the role: Tom Cruise.
Ars Technica has shared a few excerpts from the email exchange, leaked as part of the massive Sony data dump, in which Sorkin tells Columbia Pictures chairman Amy Pascal that he has somewhat convinced producers Danny Boyle and Scott Rudin about casting Cruise as Jobs.
Sorkin wrote in his email:
I’ve gotten Scott and Danny to the point where they’re now a little interested in Tom Cruise. Though both remain concerned about his age (me less so) everyone agrees that he’s an actor who can really handle language (Lions for Lambs, Magnolia, A Few Good Men) and a movie star who feels comfortable owning the stage. He’s in London filming right now and Scott wants to get him a script to read and a meeting with Danny before Danny comes here to LA next week. I’ve been warned that he likes to bring in Chris McQuarrie to re-write but [CAA agent] Maha Dakhil (who wants him in the movie) has assured me that won’t happen.
The screenwriter then wrote a follow-up email:
I just got off the phone with Danny who’s concerned about the age but I think I got him thinking about it and he’s going to look at some scenes from Lions for Lambs where Tom’s basically auditioning for Jobs. He’s also concerned that the choice will be met with derision because it’s such a commercial choice but I honestly think that ends up working for us. Tom’s going to surprise some people and they’ll want to reward that. I don’t think we’d have to recast Woz. Seth’s the right age in the first act and Tom’s the right age in the third. And the movie announces itself pretty quickly as not being literal–as being a painting rather than a photograph. Look, I wouldn’t cast Clint Eastwood but if I saw Tom Cruise flying around the backstage corridors of Symphony Hall I wouldn’t think he was too old. I think it would be dazzling performance.
Pascal agreed bringing on Cruise was a good idea, adding that Boyle and Rudin were skeptical about the actor’s older age and were more set on having Fassbender play the role. The emails were exchanged in late October, just weeks before Sony handed off the movie to Universal.
Sorkin was quite blunt in his response: “This used to be an event. I don’t know who Michael Fassbender is and the rest of the world isn’t going to care. This is insane.” He soon conceded that Fassbender is a “great actor whose time has come,” noting that “if the movie’s good, he’ll be on the cover of everything and get nominated for everything.”
While Sorkin was eyeing Cruise, the emails revealed actors Matthew McConaughey and Tobey McGuire both expressed interest in portraying Jobs in the biopic, according to Ars.
The leaked Sony data most recently revealed falling revenue forecasts for the Steve Jobs biopic and confirmed actress Natalie Portman’s decision to pass up a role in the movie. In addition to Michael Fassbender cast as Steve Jobs and Seth Rogen cast as Steve Wozniak, Universal is eyeing The Newsroom star Jeff Daniels to play former Apple CEO John Sculley, although the leaked emails show actor Tom Hanks previously expressed interest in the role.
Production of the biopic will reportedly begin in the spring.