WILL THE REAL STEVE JOBS PLEASE STAND UP?

Not everyone’s lucky enough to have a former Calvin Klein model play him in a biopic. A look at tycoons who’ve been given the Hollywood treatment

By Bilge Ebiri

Jobs | Ashton Kutcher

KUTCHER: GLEN WILSON/SUNDANCE; JOBS: HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

STEVE JOBS

Jobs

Who? Apple co-founder

Authentic? “I have a little bug in me that says that this movie will portray Steve as a saint,” Steve Wozniak, who hadn’t yet seen the film, told Gizmodo, “rather than one of the key people who led Apple through failure after failure.”

Bottom line: Pure hagiography. Kutcher is fine, but wait for the next Jobs biopic, written by Aaron Sorkin.

CHARLES FOSTER KANE

Citizen Kane

Who? A publishing tycoon based on William Randolph Hearst

Authentic? Hearst famously tried to get the film burned by its studio, RKO Radio Pictures, and then prevented his newspapers from running ads for it.

Bottom line: The Hearst family has finally relented — they recently organized a screening at Hearst Ranch.

DANIEL PLAINVIEW

There Will Be Blood

Who? An oilman based on Edward Doheny

Authentic? Doheny, who died in 1935, never commented on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil! upon which the movie is based. The film was shot in Doheny’s Greystone Mansion, now a public park.

Bottom line: Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson successfully captures the original era of runaway capitalism.

MARK ZUCKERBERG

The Social Network

Who? Facebook co-founder

Authentic? “They just can’t wrap their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things,” Zuckerberg said at a conference in 2010. The filmmakers did nail his wardrobe, Zuck admits.

Bottom line: Writer Sorkin doesn’t particularly care about Facebook, so the story never gets too reverential.

GORDON GEKKO

Wall Street

Who? Hostile takeover king, based on Michael Milken

Authentic? “I met Michael Milken ... with [director] Oliver Stone at the Drexel Burnham offices,” Michael Douglas told the Examiner in 2010. “Oliver said, ‘Can you show me the shredding machines?’”

Bottom line: Inspiring young finance types wasn’t Stone’s intent. Oh, well.

HOWARD HUGHES

The Aviator

Who? Aviation entrepreneur, movie producer

Authentic? The actress Terry Moore, who once lived with Hughes, offered her praise in a 2012 interview: “I thought they captured the glamour years. ... Leo did a great job.”

Bottom line: Director Martin Scorsese’s kinship with his subject shines in the scenes in which Hughes pursues his dream of producing movies.

PRESTON TUCKER

Tucker: The Man and His Dream

Who? Auto entrepreneur

Authentic? The Tucker family was consulted during production, and the inventor’s daughter gave her approval at the time: “My father is looking down on this and smiling.”

Bottom line: Director Francis Ford Coppola, a fellow tech innovator, saw much of himself in Tucker.

THOMAS EDISON

Edison, the Man

Who? Founder of the company that eventually became General Electric

Authentic? Edison was a ruthless competitor, but you wouldn’t know it from this glossy, positive movie.

Bottom line: The film hasn’t aged well, but Spencer Tracy, probably cinema’s greatest Average Joe, is excellent as the headstrong, visionary inventor.

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