Some guys have all the luck, some guys
have all the pain, some guys get all the breaks, some guys do nothing
but complain. True, Rod Stewart, true. And sometimes that guy having
all the luck and getting all the breaks isn’t some guy, but a girl.
A girl like Diablo Cody. A Midwestern girl who started a blog and wrote
a book about being a stripper, and then appeared on a talk show after
Letterman read it…and then a Hollywood agent read her blog, and asked
for a script, which was made into a movie—Juno, 2007’s bittersweet
comedy about teen pregnancy, starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera. Oh,
and if you happened to miss it, Cody also won an Oscar this week.
Now she has multiple projects up and coming: there’s a Showtime series
United States of Tara, produced by a certain Steven Spielberg, a
horror flick (Jennifer’s Body) and a college sex comedy for
girls called Girly Style. We spoke with Cody a few weeks
back about her newfound fame, the joy of Ellen Page, and why cinema
needs more weenies.
Hi this is Broek from Anthem, is this
My real name is Brook.
I know. I’m actually calling you
on behalf of all the Brooks of the world to ask you why you turned your
back on us.
That’s awesome—it’s like a Brook
on Broek throw down. No one had to drudge up that detail. I never turn
my back on the Brook.
You really seem to be hitting the
jackpot. How are you coming through?
Lucky me. I’d like to credit it to
my own genius. But…I really think I’ve been very fortunate.
What’s up next?
Time and a Half, which is my 20’s
hipster identity comedy. I wrote that one a couple years ago. I’ve
been extremely busy. [Then] Jennifer’s Body. I’m producing
it and I wrote it and I am just thrilled because horror is my favorite
genre. So this is, for me, sort of a turning point. We have Megan Fox
for Jennifer’s Body and she’s just the femme fatale of the
millennium. I’m very excited about that because this character is
lecherous evil and sexy. We have Toni Colette doing United States
of Tara, couldn’t get any better than that. I would like to work
with Ellen [Page] again, selfishly—because Ellen could do a soup commercial
and you’d cry.
Are you writing your characters any
In the case of Juno, I didn’t
know what I was doing. I can talk more intelligently about what I’ve
written since, because I was doing it more consciously as a working
screenwriter. Juno was really this crazy whim. I had no idea
it was going to be produced and that I was going to be a writer. It
was very unconscious and very free. I have so much trouble answering
questions about how I wrote it because really I had nothing to lose
and I just went for it. Whereas now, perhaps I should think about Jungian
psychology. I am totally trapped now. [laughs] No, I’m
not—I still try not to over think things.
Since people liked
Juno so much, did you have this feeling of
“I better hit the ground running”?
All of a sudden people wanted to hear
more from me. And I’m no dummy—I didn’t want to go back to my
old job. thought to myself, ‘I better get going.’ Luckily, I sort
of suppressed a lot of my creative instincts for so long that I had
all these movies inside me. I wish I was as prolific as a year ago or
two years ago because all of a sudden the whole year has sort of been
consumed by Juno. I want to get back to that place where I am
just writing frantically.
You get a fair amount of attention
for your strong female roles. How do you start writing—with a character
in mind, or with a particular situation?
I think about dialogue first. If I think
of a line I’ll try to think of a scene I can insert that into. And
I’m also interested in relationships. Romance is interesting to me.
To me, the central theme in Juno was not the pregnancy but the
relationship between Juno (Page) and Paulie (Cera).
The movie made me miss high school.
It made me nostalgic for those days because I had a friend like that…he
even looked like Michael Cera.
So did my boyfriend! And it’s funny,
because how many women have or had a Paulie Bleeker in their life? To
me it’s a good thing. Teenage guys in cinema are typically very aggressive
and very…kind of gross and horny. They’re little Axe body spray
dudes. In reality so many of us knew sweet, sensitive geeks in high
school who just kissed our feet. So let’s get some weenies in movies.
Honestly, I’m a fan of the weenies. I always say it’s good thing
I didn’t know Michael Cera was going to play Pauley Bleeker, because
then it would have been Paulie Bleeker: The Movie.
Are you conscious of the background
details when you’re inventing your characters?
I’m a little bit obsessive about that
kind of thing. I have scavenged so many of those details from my own
life. To me that is a movie. I noticed the things I love
about film are the smallest details. The shoes a character wears, their
body language, the kind of car that they drive—I put that stuff into
scripts. And I guess that some people would consider that directing
on the page.
What about your work is resonating
most with people?
People ask me questions about maturity
a lot. ‘Why did I write about teenagers being more mature than adults?
Do I think it’s a reflection on society?’ Yes, I do. I myself, I’m
very mature. So I have a lot of angst related to that topic.
In what way…the characters could
be less mature?
You know, honestly, the more I think
about it, it’s institutionalized sexism, because men who are immature
are celebrated. They’re seen as clowns and entertainers and comedians.
And women who are immature are seen as crazy. So let people think
I am a loose cannon. Fair enough. I can’t help it that I don’t have
a penis that instantly makes my behavior acceptable.
Which sort of brings up my next question…Girls—totally
not funny, right?
Oh no. They’re not funny at all. They
just listen to Christopher Hitchens. [Laughs] Yeah, I have a
major problem with that, and I think the whole “Girls aren’t funny”
thing has entered the dialogue lately because there are so many women
proving that wrong. It’s making certain people nervous.
You know what aggravates the hell out
of me? I have done interesting press. I got on Letterman without aid
of a publicist because he read my book. When I did Letterman suddenly
all these assholes on the internet were like ‘This girl’s done nothing,
she must have a hell of a publicist.’ And I wanted to track down each
and every one of them and be like “I don’t even have one!” But
it’s impossible for people to understand that women can do things
on their own merit. Drives me crazy. That is one thing that is frustrating
to me, [this idea] that I’m this calculating person who really plays
the press and has cultivated this persona…but I ain’t. I’m Forrest
Gump. I’m in all these places by accident.
You won a Hollywood Film Festival
award. How are you wrapping your head around the buzz?
I have this picture of Jason Reitman
handing me that award. It makes me laugh ‘cause, first of all, it’s
funny seeing myself dressed up at an awards podium, receiving an award.
Secondly, I just look like a total doofus. I am so bad at these public
appearance things, but Jason is so composed and so perfectly Jason-like.
In this photo he has the most wonderful, sincere, camera-ready expression
and I’m like ‘Man, you suck. You’re so cool all the time. Here
I am, Captain Overbite.’
But I hope more of that stuff happens–awards
are cool. They give you freedom, and that’s all I want.