Jobs film shows 'brilliant and flawed' Apple chief

Steve Jobs From Apple Com

Steve Jobs' Hollywood treatment, and the man himself, is being defended by those in the movie, which they insist portrays two sides of his persona.

Given all the controversies surrounding the release of the biopic about Apple's late co-founder, it was perhaps fitting that its New York premiere was overshadowed by the threat of a hurricane.

The weeks leading up to the release of "Steve Jobs" were punctuated by a series of embarrassing revelations about Jobs, and criticism by top Apple executives about how the man behind the world's most valuable company and his legacy would be portrayed on screen. Last month, Apple's current CEO Tim Cook dismissed the movie as "opportunistic," while the company's chief design officer, Jony Ive, declared himself "heartbroken" by Jobs' portrayal in the movie.

Read More Producing 'Steve Jobs' was crucial: Danny Boyle

The apparent dichotomy of Jobs' public and personal sides has given way to a host of adjectives to describe his personality. Yet Steve Jobs' Hollywood treatment — and the man himself — was defended by those involved in the movie, including boldface names like Seth Rogen, Sarah Snook and Adam Shapiro.

"I think that this movie shows Steve Jobs as a brilliant and flawed man, and I think any movie you would make about a brilliant man that doesn't show his flaws would be a lie," Shapiro told CNBC at the New York red carpet premiere. While Jobs is widely acknowledged as a genius, Shapiro suggested that his flaws would be laid bare in the movie, through relationships with his family and colleagues.

Shapiro, a wiry actor who plays a top Apple executive in the movie, pointed out how the project is based on a highly regarded book commissioned by Steve Jobs himself.

"He picked Walter Isaacson to write a book about him because he had read Walter's other books," Shapiro said. "Walter writes about brilliant men who had full human lives, and I think Steve wanted to be portrayed in the same way," he added, insisting that Jobs would approve of the film if he were alive.

Indicative of how divisive the subject of Jobs' personality can be — even among the cast — Rogen was less certain than his co-star on whether Jobs would approve of the film.

"I don't know," Rogen replied quickly, when asked by CNBC whether the tech guru would approve of the film. Michael Fassbender plays the title role, while Rogen plays Apple's other founder, Steve Wozniak.

Although many people applaud Jobs' accomplishments as a visionary with a knack for creating gadgets consumers felt compelled to buy, his personal side remains controversial to some. Jobs was frequently described as mercurial, and was known for being brusque with peers, family and friends alike.

"People are split" over who Steve Jobs was, the film's director, Danny Boyle, told CNBC. "Many people are totally devoted to him and can see no wrong in the way that he behaved and the way he built his work. And then there were others who thought there were too many sacrifices along the way."

Wozniak, one of Jobs' staunchest defenders, is on record applauding the movie's treatment of the iconic technology maker. Rogen told CNBC that Jobs and Wozniak "personally got along very well." However, he added, "in the movie it's much more tumultuous."

Sarah Snook, who plays Andrea Cunningham, a public relations executive hired to launch the first Macintosh, talked about Jobs' putting her character through a kind of "test" before becoming friends. "It turns out she passed with flying colors," Snook said.

Yet it's one particular relationship that Shapiro says is the "spine and heart" of the movie: the "complexities of his relationship with his daughter." The family theme, he says, separates the movie from Hollywood's previous attempts to capture Jobs and his legacy.

It's also what appears to be riling up at least a few critics.

"There are sons, daughters and widows who are incredibly upset," Ive is quoted as saying about the movie.

That said, others argue that controversy should not deter artists from making films about powerful figures who capture the public's imagination.

"It's crucial, actually, to make films about these people," Boyle said. "Documentaries. Novels. Biographies. There needs to be more written about them. We need to understand them as much as possible, because they come out of us and they express our visions and dreams and our fears."

That could explain in part Boyle's persistence in seeing the movie through, after the project changed hands from Sony to Universal. Boyle was forced to replace "Steve Jobs' " lead actor at least a couple of times before settling on Michael Fassbender, according to emails leaked by the Sony hack.

Still, others involved with the movie insisted that despite Jobs' larger-than-life presence, the Apple brand has become about more than just him.

"Yes, it's one person in the film," said Snook, "but it's also a company behind him that made it happen."