Insanely brilliant people like Steve Jobs have the tendency of being, more or less, a little frenetic. That’s how the endearing Adam Shapirojumped into our phone call—amped, running understandably late from a film shoot over Laurel Canyon in sunny Los Angeles.
He timidly inquired of the East Coast’s weather, pre-Hurricane Joaquin, in preparation for his journey to the New York Film Festival’s premiere of Steve Jobs in which he portrays Avie Tevanian, the former Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple who is largely to thank for Mac’s operating system. Thus, our celebration together of that morning’s OS X El Capitan update was only appropriate.
“To say that I’m a Mac person would be a sore understatement,” he reveals across our iPhones, admitting that he’s been preparing to play a computer programmer his entire life. He’s a techie and Photoshopper whose early acting credits include a role in a Samsung campaign as an “Apple geek” waiting in line for the latest iPhone to be released.
“That was more homework that I brought into playing Avie Tevanian.”
Though he has never been fired from a job like the Jobs, Shapiro came to the realization that he may have been softly “let go” from a position as a production assistant on The Amazing Race when he was reamed out by the show’s executive producer on his first day. “I guess I was fired from Amazing Race,” he laughs. “It wasn’t so much a ‘race’.”
More of a ‘sprint’, I add.
Shapiro is an expert sprinter, having bursted between shooting Steve Jobs in San Francisco and the L.A. set of ABC’s Cristela. This caliber of maniacal energy is that which is required to hang with the Genius Bar that was involved in the film’s production.
There’s practical joker Steve Wozniak, the inventor of Apple’s first computer who Shapiro deems as, “The realest computer programmer I’ve ever met in my life.” Then there’s screenwriter Aaron Sorkin; the lightening bolt of wit whose words unravel as cinematic poetry. “His words are very easy to say,” says Shapiro. “They’re written so well that they kind of flow out of your mouth like music. If you just stick to exactly what he’s written down, you can’t go wrong.”
Sorkin’s dedication to greatness mirrored that of his black turtleneck’d muse as he transfigured into an incarnate Steve Jobs resource on set. “Sorkin really took on the subject with the same type of veracity that I think Steve Jobs took on everything. I think Steve and Aaron probably share a lot of parts of themselves,” says Shapiro, summarizing their respective magnitudes in one standout Jobsism from the film’s trailer:
“The moment we opened up our scripts and everybody started saying Aaron Sorkin’s lines, it sounded like an orchestra,” Shapiro remembers of the first table read alongside co-stars Kate Winslet andSeth Rogen. “It sounded like they cast this movie perfectly with all of the right instruments playing together. It was unbelievable.”
The Steve Jobs cast operated with Cupertino precision with Michael Fassbender at its head, who ensured that its cogs were well-oiled during their midnight to 9 AM shoots by way of a mandatory tea and coffee break. “Fassbender would go around asking ‘What do you want in your tea?’, ‘What do you want in your tea?’, ‘What do you want in your tea?’ and then he would go and make tea for the entire staff and crew,” remembers Shapiro, who unwittingly tricked the actor into becoming his barista through shared midnight Americanos.
“It became a weird tradition that Fassbender would make my tea and coffee,” he says. “Like for two seconds, I would stop bowing down to the acting god that is Michael Fassbender and he would actually make me drinks. It was pretty amazing.”
If given the opportunity to brainstorm his ideal future film, Shapiro would drop everything to reunite with his caffeinated cast for Steve Jobs 2: San Francisco Nights, which would cover Apple’s development of the iPad and beyond.
“I would get my Americanos again and just go back to what I would love my everyday reality to be.”
Steve Jobs debuts for its limited release in select New York and Los Angeles today, Oct. 9. It will be available in theaters nationwide on Friday, Oct. 23.