Producer Jason Reitman
Jovial and friendly, Jason Reitman talked up a storm with us on the Vancouver set visit for Jennifer's Body. The filmmaker last worked with writer Diablo Cody on 2007's Juno, which won Best Screenplay. Now, instead of creating another heartwarming, coming-of-age indie, he's producing Cody's horror comedy about a hot teen who starts devouring the boys at her high school.
It doesn't seem odd talking to Reitman about horror – he's a huge fan. Reminiscing about his favorite slasher films excited him; he talked so fast he was nearly incoherent. Check out his thoughts on Cody's latest, and his own horror influences.
Q. How would you describe the tone of Jennifer's Body?
Reitman: There [is] a warmth to the film that doesn't exist today. I chalk up most horror films today …into two categories. They're either slice and dice sessions or they're really cold – this group of films that evolved from the movie The Ring. When I think of Nightmare on Elm Street, there was a warmth to those teenagers that I related to. They were not aware that they were in the middle of a horror film, and I really loved those characters and I empathized with them. That's what I read when I read Diablo [Cody]'s screenplay. It's a return to that.
Q. How did you initially react to the script after reading Juno?
Reitman: [Diablo's] just a fantastic writer. When a young woman writes a screenplay and it wins an Oscar the first time out, you can't help but presume, "OK, was this it? Was that all the fuel in the tank? Did she just get lucky?" And then you start reading more of her materials and then you say, "This is the real deal. I'm going to be reading a lot from this woman for the rest of her career." So there was that excitement in reading the screenplay.
Q. Describe your experience when you got nominated for an Oscar.
Reitman: It was absolutely wonderful. It was a dream. It lived up in every way [to what] I imagined. Now the daunting thing is, I'm 30 years old. It could very easily be my only brush with the Academy…kind of like an athlete's life where the good stuff happens early and then you just reminisce. That could easily be the case, and if so, there's something a little sad about that, but hey, I got to touch the sun. I think most people lose their way when they just try to make successful films and, hopefully, I'll try to make good films and some of them will be.
Q. Will Juno fans like this?
Reitman: Yeah, because it's funny. Comedy and horror are cousins; they're related. They both come from storytellers who want to specifically affect the audience and illicit specific reactions during the movie. You want to make someone laugh at a very specific moment. You want to scare the s*** out of them at a specific moment, so I imagine the fans of Juno are going to be big-time fans of this film.
Q. What's your favorite horror film?
Reitman: I loved the original Funny Games. I met Tony Hawk at a dinner, and I'm like, "Tony Hawk—he likes horror films. Tony Hawk will love Funny Games." I get an e-mail back from him and he's like, "Dude, that's really messed up. I'm surprised you gave me that." [Laughs] Come on! It's the best horror film ever! I actually saw that for the first time in the last year and that probably is the best film I've seen in awhile.
Q. What about your favorite classic horror?
Reitman: The Shining. I remember seeing The Shining for the first time and being completely spooked out and going, what is this? Particularly those moments of coming around this corner and seeing the twins. The blood coming out of the elevator never had the effect that the two twin girls did, and the people in the animal costumes. That really stuck with me. And Nightmare on Elm Street. The girl on the ceiling, the claw marks across her chest. His arm stretching across in shadow—all that stuff hit me. I became a huge fan of the Nightmare series.
Q. What do you think about the feminine perspective on this film?
Reitman: There's something really exciting about making a horror film that is written by a woman, directed by a woman, and starring two young women, because horror's been generally made by guys since the beginning of time. Instead of a movie about a guy who's slowly picking off beautiful girls, there's a young woman who's going through a high school picking off every type of guy there is. There's something fun about turning the tables.
Q. What do you think is the worst horror film?
Reitman: See No Evil. Every kid's really hot and they're all supposed to be bad. But they're really soft white kids. [Laughs] It's so goofy that even on my worst day of writing, I'd be like, "Yeah, this sucks." For some reason, the WWE folks are like, "No, this is good. We've got something here.... We'll take one of our prominent wrestlers, he'll go through the hotel, and scoop their eyes out. And that'll be the movie." [Laughs]
Q. Why do you think people see bad horror films?
Reitman: It's the most guaranteed genre. If you supply certain elements, people are going to go see it, and it doesn't often have to be good for people to go see it. I used to have a group called Bad-Movie Saturday. Every Saturday, six of us would go see the worst movie that came out each weekend. It'd be noon in Burbank. It was just a running commentary. All executives – we would each talk through the movie and make jokes. The weird times would be when there were a lot of people. Really? You all want to see this? That's how I ended up seeing Garfield. Garfield is actually a worse scary movie than See No Evil.
Q. Do you prefer psychological or gore horror?
Reitman: I like it all. I laugh a lot in horror films. If I'm scared in a horror film, I try to think about what's scaring me…particularly, if it's a bad movie, but something they're doing still works. It's the same way I look at comedy. I've always had an intellectual view of comedy, and what makes people laugh, and how does it work.
Q. What do you think of Megan Fox?
Reitman: She's really f****** funny, the same way Rachel McAdams was in Mean Girls. I've seen auditions of people trying to do Diablo's dialogue and it's like falling off a cliff. It's tough dialogue, and she just nails it. She's mean, and funny and dangerous and sexy and everything you could ever want from her in this.
More From the Jennifer's Body Set:
Jennifer's Body Set Visit
Set Visit Interview with Jennifer's Body Screenwriter Diablo Cody
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