Ridley Scott Reflects On His Legendary Apple Commercial: 'Who The F*** Is Steve Jobs?'

Prolific director Ridley Scott is in the award season conversation for not just one, but two films this year. He released the panoramic period piece "The Last Duel" in October, before dropping the Lady Gaga-led "House of Gucci" the very next month. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Scott reflected on his varied career, even speaking at length about his time directing TV commercials.

According to THR, Scott's ad filmography includes over 2,000 different commercials, but it's clear that one stood out more than the rest. In 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh computer in a Super Bowl ad. Scott says he had no idea what the product was when ad agency Chiat/Day pitched the job, and thought the company Apple was actually The Beatles' Apple Corps. Scott describes hearing more about the product, but admits he had no clue who founder Steve Jobs was. To be fair, most people didn't at the time. "They said, 'No, no, no. Apple is this guy called Steve Jobs,'" Scott recalls. "I went, 'Who the f*** is Steve Jobs?'" 

The answer to that question may have turned out to be very different without the help of Scott, who helmed the "1984" themed TV spot that brought the company to the forefront of public imagination.

Scott Introduced Apple To The World

In the one-minute ad spot, a red-shorts-wearing athlete played by Anya Major runs into a room full of drab citizens watching a big-screen TV. She's being chased, but only stops to hurl a hammer into the TV screen, disrupting the broadcast that holds the audience captive. It's a bit of sci-fi dystopia that's brought home by a scroll text, which is also read over in narration: 

The Macintosh is coming in 1984 to change our idea of the future.

Scott was impressed with the way the script for the ad piqued viewers' interest without giving them much insight about the product. He described his initial thoughts on the concept, saying:

"My God. They're not saying what it is, they're not showing what it is. They're not even saying what it does. It was advertising as an art form. It was devastatingly effective."

Despite considering some advertising art, Scott went on to say that marketing has shifted significantly in the modern era. "Advertising is changing dramatically. And the problem is it went onto this," Scott said, indicating his own iPhone, "Which is both genius and the enemy." 

For better and worse, we've come a long way from the Macintosh computer Scott helmed in the '80s. Who the f*** is Steve Jobs? The guy who made the phone in Scott's own pocket.