Screenwriter Diablo Cody gets the Jennifer's Body buzz
TORONTO—Jennifer’s Body isn’t billed as “a Diablo Cody film”—but it could be. Despite featuring Hollywood’s leading hottie du jour, Megan Fox (Transformers), as a monster with a taste for high-school boys, most of the early buzz has focused on the woman behind the words.
With a single script—Juno—Cody transformed herself from struggling writer to one of the best-known—shit, one of the only known—screenwriters on the planet. Even before she won the 2008 Academy Award for best original screenplay, Cody’s biography was already the stuff of Entertainment Tonight legend.
The self-proclaimed “world’s worst stripper”, blogger, and now author crafted a script full of quirky, clever, and reference-laden teenspeak. She scored a column in Entertainment Weekly. She trailblazed the Twittersphere (almost 98,000 followers). Her tweet as this story is filed: “I love Toronto. You guys make me feel famous. Almost like a minor Kardashian!” The last screenwriter who scored even remotely Kardashian-level coverage was Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct), and to attract that heat he had to set screenplay sales records and sleep with Sharon Stone.
Cody’s buzz couldn’t have hurt in selling her TV series, The United States of Tara, to executive producer Steven Spielberg (or Showtime) or in scoring executive-producer credit on what is only her second feature. It’s Cody’s name above the title on the poster for Jennifer’s Body, along with the classically Cody-esque line “She’s evil”¦ and not just high school evil.” It’s Cody’s face on the cover of one of Toronto’s newsweeklies, not Fox’s body. Cody even has a Hitchcockian appearance in the film, downing a beer in a pivotal bar scene. She suspects this was probably her first and last cameo, though. “I’m not much of a thespian. [Director] Karyn [Kusama] had to direct me to drink out of that bottle of beer. I think that it took like five takes. No, you’re not thinking about the beer. You’re just drinking it because you’re thirsty.”
Watch the trailer for Jennifer's Body.
At a news conference during the Toronto International Film Festival, just days before the movie’s global launch, Cody is done up like a movie star with what looks like a designer black outfit, a collection of funky gold jewellery, and a short-cropped blond ’do that reads more starlet than scribe. And as she sits with Jason Reitman (her director on Juno and one of Body’s producers) and Kusama (AEon Flux, Girlfight), it’s Cody who fields most of the questions.
“I’m very, very fortunate to have the career that I have,” Cody says. “I never intended to become a spokesperson for the movies that I write. I would be just as satisfied at being anonymous and just creating material, because that’s what I love to do, but I also feel like it’s an honour to be a part of the process, and an honour to be part of promoting the film. I think it’s cool, and I think it’s actually something that”¦ I don’t know why more writers aren’t asked to do this sort of thing, because I feel they have something to say; they’re the ones creating the material.” That said, Cody doesn’t consider this “her” movie.
“This is Karyn’s film, and I’m in such awe of her as an artist. I’m just like “her little buddy” in this scenario, and Karyn’s driving the boat, and I don’t want anyone to lose sight of that.”
Although her TV series shows that she is comfortable writing for adults, Cody is happily arrested by adolescents. “It is so wonderful to write for teenagers, because teenagers really believe in what they do and say so strongly,” Cody says. “Those are the kinds of characters you want to write, because they actually give a shit. I feel like it’s sort of like that amazing line from The Breakfast Club: “When you grow up, your heart dies.”
When she talks about her relationship with Reitman, Cody looks like she’s on the verge of choking up, as if the alternate universe where she’s struggling as an unknown writer or stripping for sweaty U.S. bills is flashing before her eyes.
“I would not have had the opportunity to make this movie if it were not for Jason, who is a person who has believed in me, not just as a writer but as, like, a filmmaker, a stylist, as somebody with a point of view—that I’m someone who deserves to express herself. I didn’t feel that about myself, and Jason believed in me. So I owe him everything.”
After Cody pauses, Reitman immediately responds: “I just think Diablo is exceptional. She’s an exceptional writer, and for reasons that people often don’t even talk about. I think 20 years from now, Karyn and I will consider ourselves lucky to be among the list of directors who have worked with her.”