- "I run a business, not a petting zoo!"
- ―Steven Jacobs
Jacobs had a long history of running projects aimed at studying cognitive ability. At some point, 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 afterwards confronted Koba, deriding him as a "stupid, ugly monkey" and telling him that were the choice his, he would put him down himself. Sometime later, Jacobs' fortunes changed, and he became the head of Gen-Sys Laboratories.
Head of Gen-Sys
Jacobs hired 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 apes arrived, Jacobs recognized Koba among them. He sadistically taunted the bonobo, calling him the "ugliest ape in the world", and 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.
When Koba was chosen by Will and Franklin to be the first test subject for the "ALZ-113" virus, Jacobs came to personally observe the experiment, claiming he wanted to watch Will's progress, but in actuality wanted to watch Koba getting hurt. This proved to a mistake, as Koba used the opportunity to try to attack Jacobs, and although he failed to reach his tormenter, the surprise attack exposed Franklin to the virus. Later, after Koba wrote Jacobs' name on a writing computer screen, 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 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 commanded by police chief John Hamil, and directed them to attack and 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 opposing authorities. The helicopter began firing on the apes, killing several, until Jacobs spotted Caesar, identifying him as the leader. He attempted to have the chopper pilot gun him down until a gorilla named Buck 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 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" before it tipped over the side of the bridge, sending the screaming Jacobs plummeting 300 feet below to his death.
After his death, Jacobs was one of the main factors that effectively sealed Koba's genocidal hatred for humans, which drove the bonobo to usurp Caesar a decade later due to the latter's respect for humans. Koba viewed Jacobs as his primary target and representing the worst of humanity due to Jacobs' cruel taunts and supervising painful and unethical experiments on him. Additionally, Jacobs indirectly played a part in causing the Simian Flu Pandemic that destroyed human civilization and nearly wiped out humanity, due to his desire to garner massive profits from the ALZ-113, not caring about the potential dangers and risk posed. All in all, Jacobs was not only responsible for his own downfall, but also shaped many events in the following years that greatly impacted both apes and humans alike.
Steven Jacobs was a narcissistic, ambitious, arrogant, and greedy man who callously experimented on apes in order to bypass human trials and garner massive profits. He was very selfish, as he did nothing for anybody but himself, and even saw his own employees as nothing more than a means to make more money and sometimes threatened to fire them when they failed him in order to protect his own reputation. This was shown when he threatened to fire Will if he didn't do as he asked and coldly demanded Franklin to "handle" apes by euthanizing them, much to the latter's disgust and reluctance. Will, utterly frustrated with the way Jacobs 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.
Jacobs was also a cruel and sadistic bully, as he senselessly experimented on and antagonized Koba, mocking the bonobo's scars and dismissing his intelligence, and at one point going to watch him being experimented just for the sake of watching him get hurt. Unlike Colonel J. Wesley McCullough, who showed a certain amount of respect towards the apes (Caesar in particular), Jacobs looked down on them all and referred to them as "stupid monkeys" and nothing more than lab rats.
He was a nefariously corrupt 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 withdrew and signaled Koba to do the job. His cowardice flared up in his final moments.
His callousness towards the apes ended in his downfall, as when he was lying wounded in the destroyed helicopter, a furious and vengeful Koba enacted his revenge by pushing the helicopter off the ledge, resulting in the latter's death. Additionally, his greed and arrogance indirectly played a part in the Simian Flu Pandemic that resulted in the collapse of human civilization and the near-extinction of humanity itself.
Koba was Jacobs' test subject, victim, and killer. Jacobs first met Koba before he became the CEO of Gen-Sys, when the bonobo was selected as the test subject for Amol's experiments. Jacobs took an instant dislike of Koba, often glaring at Koba, mocking the bonobo's scars and dismissing his signing skills as "gibberish". After firing Amol for the failure of the experiment, Jacobs confronted Koba, irrationally blaming him for the failure, and furiously derided him as a "stupid, ugly monkey", and claimed he would put Koba down if he could. This resulted in Koba coming to return Jacobs' dislike of him.
Many years later, after becoming CEO of Gen-Sys, Jacobs had Koba transferred there for the ALZ-113. Very soon after the bonobo arrived, Jacobs got his attention by kicking at the door of his cage. With sadistic pleasure, Jacobs taunted Koba, mocking his scars and misfortunes, and telling him that no matter how human he thought he was he was nothing but an animal. In saying these cruel, but truthful words, Jacobs sealed Koba's hatred and desire for revenge not only on him, but humanity as a whole.
When Koba was selected as the first test subject for the ALZ-113, Jacobs came to watch the bonobo being experimented on. Koba took the opportunity to try to attack Jacobs, which visibly frightened the man, but Koba was subdued before he could reach Jacobs.
After the wounded Jacobs was trapped in the helicopter and Caesar gave Koba permission to kill him, Jacobs was terrified to see that his fate had been left in the hands of the ape he had tormented. As Koba pushed Jacobs to his death, Jacobs, as a final taunt, called Koba a "stupid monkey." Though he would never live to see it, Jacobs' cruel treatment of Koba eventually led to the bonobo trying to destroy humanity and betray his fellow apes to do so.
Will was one of Jacobs' many employees. Although he seems to have some respect for Will's exceptional skills as a scientist, Jacobs ultimately just sees Will as a means to an end. He praises Will whenever he pleases him, but harshly berates him whenever he disagrees with him or "fails" him, and arrogantly chooses to ignore his warnings about the potential danger of the ALZ-113. When Will persists in his arguments, Jacobs callously threatens to fire him. When Will quits, Jacobs continues the experiments without him.
Will, on the other hand, dislikes Jacobs for his greed and arrogance, and only tolerates him as his boss because he knows Jacobs would fire him if he steps out of line. However, when Jacobs ignores his warnings about the ALZ-113, it proves to be too much for Will, who abandons Jacobs.
- 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.