The man who would be Steve Jobs

With the news that Sony is picking up the rights to the life story of Steve, many are now looking back to the TV movie about Jobs and Bill Gates, Pirates of Silicon Valley, which aired on TNT in 1999.

In Pirates, Anthony Michael Hall played Gates, and Noah Wyle from ER played Jobs. 

Now with the passing of Jobs, an old interview writer David A. Kaplan did with Wyle has resurfaced on CNNMoney, where Wyle recalled playing Jobs for the movie, which the site dubbed “a cult hit among the technorati.” 

Wyle admitted he was apprehensive about playing Steve, “I had worries I usually didn’t have as an actor… I couldn’t really get a beat on the guy until they sent me the documentary, ‘Triumph of the Nerds.’ Then it was ‘Ohmigod! I’ve never seen anything like this. I have to play this guy.'”


Wylie said he was taken by Jobs’ presence, “his confidence, smugness, smartness, ego,” and felt the path of his story made him “the most Shakespearean figure in American culture in the last 50 years I could think of.” 

And of course, as Wylie and I’m sure many others have pointed out, Jobs beat the F. Scott Fitzgerald saying that there were no second acts in American lives.


TNT was afraid Gates and/or Jobs would find a legal reason to stop the movie, and Wylie was told not to contact Jobs for this reason.

Once Pirates finally went on the air in 1999, Wylie’s phone rang, and it was Steve Jobs, who told him, “I’m just calling to tell you I thought  you did a good job. I hated the movie, I hated the script, I think if you had spent a little more time and a little more money and maybe a little more attention to detail, you could have had something there. But you were good.”

Then Jobs asked Wylie to appear as him at the Macworld convention. Wylie met Jobs at the Four Seasons, where Steve bought a pair of his trademark jeans, turtleneck, and glasses for Wylie to wear. They also later went out to dinner together in downtown Manhattan, where Jobs started sketching out an idea on a napkin.

He left the idea on the table, and Wylie thought, I have to take that napkin, but then he left it behind when Jobs asked if they wanted to share a taxi together. “I could have had an Edison original,” said Wylie, looking back.