- "I run a business, not a petting zoo!"
- ―Steven Jacobs
Jacobs had a long history of running projects aimed at studying cognitive ability. He teamed up with neuroscientist Amol, who sought to create a machine capable of producing images directly from the brain. Jacobs was skeptical of the project's practicality, and took an instant dislike of Koba, the bonobo selected for the trial. Amol's experiments proved to be a financial disaster for Jacobs, who fired the neuroscientist and confronted Koba, telling him that were the choice his, he would put him down himself. Some time later, Jacobs' fortunes changed, and he became the head of Gen-Sys Laboratories.
Head of Gen-Sys
Jacobs hired Dr. Will Rodman to develop a viral cure to Alzheimer's Disease. After two years in charge of the lab, Jacobs shut down research on the "ALZ-112" drug after one of Will's chimpanzees went berserk. It was only eight years later, when Will revealed he had used the drug on his own father with limited results, that Jacobs approved development of a refined version.
When the shipment of new laboratory apes arrived, Jacobs recognized Koba among them. He sadistically taunted the bonobo, telling him that there would be no more "hand talking nonsense", and that no matter how human he thought he was, he was still an unintelligent animal. This prompted Koba to vow revenge on Jacobs, whom he saw as representing the worst of humanity. Jacobs ordered further testing of the "ALZ-113" virus despite Will's warnings, caring only for the profits to be made on the success of the virus.
Later on, Caesar escaped the San Bruno Primate Shelter along with all the other apes housed there, having first infected them with the ALZ-113. Caesar then went on to stage an attack on Gen-Sys and rescue the apes being held captive there by Jacobs and his staff. After the attack, Jacobs flagged down a San Francisco Police helicopter being commanded by Police Chief John Hamil, and directed them to attack and attempt to destroy the ape rebellion on the Golden Gate Bridge, in the hopes of avoiding bad publicity for Gen-Sys and himself. Once the helicopter arrived at the bridge, Caesar and the other apes were already in the process of defeating the police force opposing them. The helicopter began firing on the apes, killing one, until Jacobs spotted Caesar, identifying him as the leader, he attempted to have the chopper pilot gun him down. Buck a gorilla, sacrificed himself by jumping on the helicopter, causing it to crash. Jacobs was the only survivor from the crash and pleaded for Caesar to help him out of the helicopter before it tipped over the side of the bridge. However, Caesar turned his back on Jacobs, leaving Koba to do as he wished with the human, scaring Jacobs, who recognized the angry and vengeful bonobo. Despite Jacobs' pleas, as Koba pushed the damaged helicopter, an angered Jacobs called him a "stupid monkey" as Koba pushes the screaming Jacobs over the side of the bridge, sending Jacobs plummeting 300 feet below to his death.
Steven was a narcissistic, ambitious, arrogant, greedy and selfish man, callously experimenting on apes in order to bypass human trials. He did nothing for anybody but himself, and senselessly experimented on Koba in order to realize his plans for turning a profit. He threatened to fire Will if he didn't do as he asked. Will, utterly frustrated with the way Steven was treating him, quit his job while Steven told him even if he did leave, they would still continue with 113 trials, showing that all he cared about was money.
Unlike Colonel J. Wesley McCullough, who showed a certain amount of respect to the Apes (Caesar in particular), Jacobs looked down on them and referred to them as "stupid monkeys".
He was a nefariously corrupt, bigoted machiavellianist who didn't care about who he offended in his quest for money. Despite his cold and cruel traits, his true colors are shown during the Battle on the Golden Gate Bridge when his helicopter is brought down by the then deceased Buck and he, the only survivor, pathetically begs for Caesar to help him. Caesar coldly withdraws and signals Koba to do the job. His cowardice flares up in his final moments.
His callousness and ruthlessness towards the apes ended in his downfall, as when he is lying wounded in the destroyed helicopter, a furious and vengeful Koba gets his revenge and ends his reign of terror by pushing the helicopter off the ledge, resulting in the latter's death.
- Steven Jacobs is the main antagonist of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and reappeared in the Firestorm novel as a supporting antagonist of Koba's flashbacks.
- Jacobs' name is taken from producer Arthur P. Jacobs, the "Father of the Planet of the Apes" who created the original movie series.
- An earlier version of the script differed in that Jacobs did not die at the Golden Gate Bridge battle (that role largely taken by Dodge Landon). Instead, Koba lingered behind at the ruined Gen-Sys lab after the other apes, infecting Jacobs with the fatal virus. Jacobs, starting to feel ill, went home in a taxi. Later, the same taxi driver - also starting to show the symptoms - picked up Will's neighbour Hunsiker, a pilot with Global Airlines, and passed on the infection. A deleted scene on the Blu-Ray disc of Rise of the Planet of the Apes showed Steven being given the ALZ-113 by the devious Koba.
- Idris Elba, Jamie Foxx and Djimon Hounsou were considered for the role of Steven.