Sitting at the Royalton Hotel after a screening of Jobs, the new Steve Jobs biopic, a well-suited Josh Gad looks nothing like Steve Wozniak, the famously jilted Apple co-founder he portrays in the film. On screen, Gad, about 30 pounds heavier and with a mop of shoulder-length hair, channels his inner introvert for a charming portrayal of the man who invented the Apple I and Apple II computers. Though based on a true story, Gad’s performance mimics the joyful ambivalence of his Tony award-winning turn in The Book Of Mormon as Elder Cunningham.
A guest approaches, complimenting the actor, 32, on his weight loss.
“Thanks, but I have to put it all back on for Sam,” he says.
He’s talking about Sam Kinison, who he’ll bring to life in Kinison, an upcoming feature film based on the life of the late comedian.
“I know what you’re thinking, and yes – I’m only taking offers where I play people who were formative in the 1980s. I’m doing a Bon Jovi biopic next.” Despite his jest, it’s the role he was born to play: Gad was introduced by his brother to the boundary-pushing stand-up through his cameo in Rodney Dangerfield’s 1986 comedy, Back To School.
“Back To School was the first time that I ever really understood the term ‘scene-stealer.’ I mean, that scream. . .” He pauses. “It was like something from another world. That was unlike anything that I had ever seen before.”
After pursuing the project for months, it seems like the prize is his – and will be directed by none other than Larry Charles (Borat, Curb Your Enthusiasm).
While there is no script yet, Gad says he’s been chatting about the story with Charles on his press tour for Jobs. “We want people to discover him. And for those who knew about him, to relive that moment where they discovered him for the first time.” Later, he shares one of his favorite Kinison bits.
“He would close his act by asking the audience if anyone had been recently scorned or dumped. Then he’d call up some girls and go ballistic on them. I don’t know if the audience was laughing or if they were just in shock. It may not have been his best bit, but it’s a good glimpse into what kind of guy he really was.”
His process in channeling Steve Wozniak was slightly different: he spent hours listening to speeches, calling himself – and the rest of the cast – “slaves to authenticity.”
“We looked at every single picture that exists of these men in the 60s, 70s, 80s. But my favorite moment was when we were shooting a scene in Jobs’ garage – his actual garage, by the way, where this all happened – and Ashton saw a chip in the background that wasn’t even on camera. He picked it up and said, ‘this wouldn’t have been invented for another two years.’ The prop master looked mortified.”