‘Steve Jobs’: Michael Stuhlbarg Reveals Unique Rehearsal Process

     August 24, 2015


One of my most-anticipated films of the year is Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. Written by Aaron Sorkin, the film has only three scenes, each one the unveiling of a product Steve Jobs (played by Michael Fassbender) created.

At the recent press day for Pawn Sacrifice, Steve spoke with Michael Stuhlbarg, who co-stars in Steve Jobs as Andy Hertzfeldt, who was one of the original members of the Macintosh team. Here’s the full video:



Image via Universal

Stuhlbarg talked about how the three-act structure was almost like a play, and it led to a unique rehearsal structure:

Being a part of them was extraordinary. They were very unique projects unto themselves. Particularly the Steve Jobs rehearsal process was unlike anything I’ve ever done to this point and probably unlike anything I’ll ever do again. Aaron Sorkin wrote it very much like a three-act play, and each act was the launch of a new product. So we rehearsed each act for two weeks and then we shot for two weeks; then we rehearsed for two weeks and shot for two weeks; then we rehearsed for two weeks and then we shot for two weeks.


And that was amazing because by the time we were ready to shoot, we were really, really ready, and it brought us all together in an extraordinary way. Also, it kind of gave us something in the telling of the story that you don’t often get, which is a sense of momentum of what a story is telling you. He got the opportunity to get the barrage of nonsense that was being thrown at him throughout the entire story.   It was just unlike anything I’ve ever done before.

It will be interesting to see if that comes across in the final film and how the performances here compare to other Sorkin films where the real star is his screenplay.


Image via Universal

Stuhlbarg explained what it was like to work from such a coveted screenplay:

It’s a dream. It makes you laugh. It made me instantly laugh because it is so good and it’s so fun to play. It does all the work for you. I remember talking to Jeff Daniels about that while we were sitting around waiting to rehearse one day, and he had become an aficionado having worked with him for three years, and he was just trying to encourage me to trust the words; that they will hold any speed you want to throw at them. I was a little afraid that if I went too fast it would come off as a bit too facile, but it holds anything you can throw at it. Remarkable that way. A lot about rhythm, you know. He’s an exceptional wordsmith.


He was sitting with us in the room while we were rehearsing, so he would say “That little flub or something you just happened to do? Let’s add that in,” or “Say that word and then a comma and then a dot, dot, dot, and say it again afterwards.” So he was constantly refining and retooling. The specificity was insane and I loved that because they hear it a different way, or they hear it the way they want us to do it.   I want to completely please the playwright/screenwriter.


Image via Universal

Finally, he also revealed a few details about his character:

I play Andy Hertzfeldt, who was one of the original members of the Macintosh team. Worked for Apple for a number of years in preparation for the Mac launch, who was a brilliant engineer in his own right, and he went through ups and downs in his relationship with Mr. Jobs that you could just tell there was a great love for him and a great respect for him, and he’s also a brilliant man in his own right. He had a great knowledge of what it was he was doing mechanically whereas Mr. Jobs’ genius lied oftentimes in putting people together or pulling the best out of people, so it’s a very interesting relationship that they had.

Steve Jobs will premiere at the New York Film Festival before opening on October 9th.


Image via Universal

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