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Steve Jobs: The Real Story Behind Jobs & His Daughter Lisa

Shanee Edwards is a screenwriter who earned her master's degree at UCLA Film School. She recently won the Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer. Her TV pilot, Ada and the Machine, is cur...

Was the father-daughter plotline in Steve Jobs for real or embellished for entertainment's sake?

It's been a couple of years since the biopic Steve Jobs starring Michael Fassbender (not to be confused with 2013's Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher) hit big screens, and it's safe to say that the film left a lasting impression. The movie got two Oscar noms and won Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actress in a Supporting Role (Kate Winslet) and Best Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin), but perhaps the element of the film that really got people talking the most was its depiction of the relationship between Steve Jobs and his daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs.

Obviously, Jobs didn't come out smelling like roses for the way he treated Lisa and her mother, Chrisann Brennan, but how much of what showed up on screen was real, and how much was exaggerated for entertainment value? We did a little digging.

Was the father-daughter plotline in Steve Jobs for real or embellished for entertainment's sake?
Image: Universal Pictures

Separating fact from fiction

It's common knowledge that movie and TV plotlines are normally, shall we say, embellished — even when based on a true story. This is exactly what got fans to talking after seeing the movie. We see Steve Jobs' daughter Lisa appear in multiple stages and ages throughout the movie, played by three different actresses as she grows up.

More: Madonna Slams Biopic, Internet Slams Her Back (With Receipts)

And while the movie mainly focuses on Jobs' legacy and lifetime achievements, broken up into three different acts based on major product releases, critics say the interaction between Jobs and Lisa in the movie is actually a metaphor for his ego and his need to control everything around him.

Here's what we know about the real Lisa Brennan-Jobs: Born May 17, 1978, Lisa Nicole Brennan is the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' daughter from his high school love, Chrisann Brennan. Jobs wasn't present for Lisa's birth, but he came to visit a few days after she was born.

The name Lisa was then given to a new computer Jobs was working on, but he created the acronym "Local Integrated Software Architecture" to explain the name to customers. In a very strange act of parenting, he told Lisa he did not name the computer after her. According to Isaacson's book, Steve Jobs, years later Jobs said, "Obviously, it was named for my daughter."

Strangely, though, perhaps terrified by the prospect of being a father, Jobs publicly denied being Lisa's dad, and a legal case followed. Even after a DNA paternity test established Jobs as Lisa's father, he made up a ridiculous argument that because the DNA test said he was 94.1 percent likely to be Lisa's father, 28 percent of the male population could also be Lisa's father. Years later, Jobs apologized for the cruel remarks.

Once paternity was legally declared, Jobs was forced to give Lisa's mom $385 per month in child support. He increased the amount to a mere $500 a month once he became a millionaire. As Lisa Brennan got older, she and her father reconciled, and she even lived with him during high school. She legally changed her name to Lisa Brennan-Jobs. Wanting to be a writer, Lisa attended Harvard University and graduated in 2000.

Next up: Lisa Brennan-Jobs is the real star of the movie

Originally published October 2015. Updated August 2017.

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