It's been a few 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 Brennan-Jobs 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.
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 Brennan-Jobs appear in multiple stages and ages throughout the movie, played by three different actresses as she grows up.
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 Brennan-Jobs 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-Jobs is the Apple cofounder Steve Jobs' daughter from his high school love, Chrisann Brennan. Jobs wasn't present for Brennan-Jobs' 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 Brennan-Jobs he did not name the computer after her. According to Walter 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 Brennan-Jobs' dad, and a legal case followed. Even after a DNA paternity test established Jobs as Brennan-Jobs' father, he made up a ridiculous argument that because the DNA test said he was 94.1 percent likely to be Brennan-Jobs' father, 28 percent of the male population could also be her father. Years later, Jobs apologized for the cruel remarks.
Once paternity was legally declared, Jobs was forced to give Brennan-Jobs' mom $385 per month in child support. He increased the amount to a mere $500 a month once he became a millionaire. As Brennan-Jobs got older, she and her father reconciled, and she even lived with him during high school. It wasn't until then that she legally changed her name to Lisa Brennan-Jobs (adding the Jobs). Wanting to be a writer, Brennan-Jobs attended Harvard University and graduated in 2000.
A version of this article was originally published in October 2015.
Lisa Brennan-Jobs is the real star of the movie
According to AppleInsider, Lisa Brennan-Jobs gave a rare interview in which she spoke about her life after her father's death, saying, "It wasn't until really he passed away that we all as kids and my mother realized how much he really had an effect on the family. And while he wasn't involved on a kind of day-to-day basis, when I think of who I am today and who my brothers and sisters are, so much of it is thanks to my father."
When asked why she didn't pursue computer engineering like her father, she said Jobs urged his children to explore different fields and find what made them happy. But it's easy to see that a career in technology would be intimidating, considering he accomplished so much in his short life. "He encouraged us to follow our dreams. I had big shoes to fill if I wanted to go into science," Brennan-Jobs said.
Steve Jobs screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, said he discussed the movie with Lisa Brennan-Jobs before making it and calls her the "heroine of the film."
According to Business Insider, Sorkin also said, "At first I didn't know what I was looking for. Brennan-Jobs didn't speak to Walter Isaacson when Walter was writing the book because her father was alive at the time. But she was willing to speak to me. She was able to tell stories about her father that weren’t necessarily flattering stories, but she would tell the story and then show me how you could see he really did love her."
Lisa Brennan-Jobs has three half-siblings, Reed, Erin and Eve, whose mother is Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs. Brennan-Jobs is currently a freelance writer living in Brooklyn and has written for such publications as O, The Oprah Magazine and Vogue. You can also read Lisa Brennan-Jobs' blog, although it hasn't been updated since 2009. In the movie, Brennan-Jobs is played by actors Ripley Sobo, Makenzie Moss and Perla Haney-Jardine at various ages.
But that still doesn't answer the question on everyone's mind: Was the portrayal of Steve Jobs' daughter in the movie really accurate? There are plenty of facts about Brennan-Jobs in the movie that have been confirmed — like the paternity dispute and the initial denial that Jobs named the Apple Lisa after his daughter. And yet, like most on-screen adaptations, the Steve Jobs movie isn't 100 percent on-point.
The scene of 5-year-old Brennan-Jobs bonding with Jobs backstage by using MacPaint is reported to be pure fiction. And while we don't want to give away any spoilers, the big reconciliation between Jobs and Brennan-Jobs at the end of the movie also leaves out the fact that Jobs had remarried and had three other kids. What's true is most of the good stuff, though some details may be shaky. Jobs and Brennan-Jobs were in a much better place before he died in 2011, and their tumultuous relationship alone makes the movie worth watching.
Aside from the Sorkin film, though, we may get more confirmation on what was true and what was false in Brennan-Jobs' upcoming memoir called Small Fry, set to release September 2018. In it, Brennan-Jobs details her complicated relationship with her father.
The description of the book on Amazon is truly interesting, a part of it stating: "As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and private schools. His attention was thrilling, but he could also be cold, critical and unpredictable." The book details her life living with her father, promising to give a "portrait of a complex family" — and we can't wait to learn more.