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When Ashton Kutcher's 2013 biopic Jobs first started to show the world what it was made of, one of the biggest factors working in its favor was the fact that Kutcher really looked the part. Leave it to Michael Fassbender to prove how wrong we all were two years later, as he's out to settle the debate between performance versus likeness.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Fassbender during the London leg of the press tour for Steve Jobs, and despite his lack of resemblance to the founding genius of Apple, he doesn't believe that's where the strength of any good biopic lies. The key to any good biopic, according to Fassbender, is as follows:
I think audiences accept things when you lay them out for them. So you see at the beginning of the film that I don’t look anything like him, so you go: ok, he doesn’t look anything like him, we can get over that now and watch the movie. Biopics can be very much about impersonation, and that kind of overtakes the story at times.
In a simple, yet polite statement, Michael Fassbender has cut, to the bone, the age old debate on whether you should hire an actor that looks the part versus an actor that can play the part in a biopic. If an actor and the filmmaker directing them set the expectation that the actor on screen is meant to embody the spirit and personality of an historical figure, then you could put anyone in that lead role. This is, of course, provided that said actor nails the personality of their subject to a tee.
That's not to say that Michael Fassbender didn't concede some points to the other side of the argument, as he was a surprised as everyone else when Christian Bale passed on the chance to play the title role in Steve Jobs himself. Bale, another actor with more than a passing resemblance to Jobs, could have been a grand casting coup for the Danny Boyle directed biopic, as he assuredly could have played the part and done it justice. Still, one has to wonder how distracted folks would have been by the look of Bale's performance versus the weight of its actual content.
Conversely, the fact that Fassbender isn't a dead ringer for Steve Jobs shouldn't distract movie-goers from enjoying Danny Boyle's monumental looking film. It's been a long time coming for Steve Jobs to be in front of our very eyes, and the results have been noted as well worth the wait. It would be a great disservice to write off a film that seems to nail every other detail about the Steve Jobs mythos, just because the lead actor doesn't look like the man himself.
But don't take our word for it. Judge for yourself when Steve Jobs opens in limited release this Friday, with a nationwide roll-out landing on October 23rd.