Joshua Michael Stern, director of the bio-picture "jOBS," said during a recent New York news conference the 35-year-old actor lost between 15 and 18 pounds by eating only fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds during his preparation to play the titular tech visionary, who died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 56.
"He was just living the character. He lost 15, 18 pounds," Stern said of Kutcher. "If you see, where Steve is at the beginning of the film, how emaciated he is and then Ashton sort of gained weight because we were able to shoot chronologically. It was a tremendous amount of commitment. He went on a fruitarian diet and he ended up having to go to the emergency room right before we started shooting. ...
"To sort of immerse yourself in Steve Jobs is an intense thing and to live in that skin, so I would call him every once in a while and just say, 'Are you sure you're OK, you know, in there?' And that's kind of what the process was. It took a lot of commitment."
Asked to elaborate on his trip to the hospital, Kutcher, who was sitting beside Stern at the news conference, explained: "My insulin levels got pretty messed up and my pancreas kind of went into some crazy -- I don't know -- the levels were really off and it was really painful. I didn't know what was wrong. And we figured out that my insulin levels were really off."
Kutcher said he also tried to emulate Jobs' distinctive style of stroll during his preparation for the film.
"I wanted to honor this guy and, because I knew people that knew him, I had pretty good insight into who and how he was," Kutcher noted.
"Because he's so well-documented I kind of couldn't afford to not resemble him. I started by learning everything I could about him by reading books and watching video and listening to people tell tales and stories. The script was an extraordinary resource and then I started consuming the things he consumed. I started studying the entrepreneurs that he admired and listening to the music he listened to and eating the food he ate and walking the way he walked."
Kutcher said he went so far as to eschew shoes whenever possible and wear Birkenstock sandals during business meetings he took while hiking -- just like the real Jobs did.
"Listen, doing that kind of thing and making those kinds of changes to your body is a shock," Kutcher said. "When you're not used to eating a certain way and you all of a sudden change your diet, your body rejects it. Your body rejects walking the way Steve Jobs walked because you're physiologically built to walk the way you walk and every human being on this planet has a unique gait that we could actually measure and quantify and use it as a security code if you wanted to. And your body actually has to rebuild to walk that way. It was uncomfortable, but I think it served a purpose."
Co-starring Josh Gad, Durmot Mulroney, Matthew Modine, J.K. Simmons and Lukas Haas, "jOBS" opens nationwide Friday.