JENNIFER’S BODY WEEK: INTERVIEW WITH DIABLO CODY

The Dark Lord Bunnykins was on set for the making of Jennifer’s Body, the sly new horror-comedy starring Megan Fox, which opens this Friday, Sept. 18. All this week I’ll be presenting the raw roundtable Q&As with the cast and filmmakers for you enjoyment. Or read my article on the film in the latest issue of Rue Morgue magazine (www.rue-morgue.com), on newsstands now.

Today, screenwriter Diablo Cody…

Jennifer's Body screenwriter Diablo Cody

Jennifer's Body screenwriter Diablo Cody

INTERVIEW WITH DIABLO CODY

 

Hase she taken a hands-on role on set?

Kusama’s got it under control, but I’m acting. [Cody plays a bartender with no lines who goes up in flames]. I’ve taken pity on everyone and not given myself any lines. There might be an insurance issue but I really want to do a burn. It’s actually a dream of mine. There’s a really good burn in Billy Madison, and every since then I want to be that guy into frame with the flames.

 

On making a horror film:

I had always wanted to write a horror movie. Always. Most people know that. I kind of channelled my horror fandom into Juno a bit.

 

On taking the high school movie to the next level

Even if you sort of avoid the Mean Girl crowd, as I did, because that wasn’t really my scene, it still kind of infiltrates your life. There’s constant judgment. Teenage boys are pretty harmless. It’s territory that’s been mined before. It’s been mined in Heathers, it’s been mined in Mean Girls, it’s been done. It’s certainly not a new idea. I just wanted to take it to another level.

 

On why women have a demonic edge:

I would blame it on hormonal fluctuations for sure. The fact that society pits women against each other; it forces us to be in competition. I think all your emotions are heightened when you’re a teenager. Romantic relationships have a tendency to get really crazy and dramatic. And all that stuff creates an atmosphere of terror and intimidation.

 

How easy is to tap into?

It’s not that difficult for me. It’s harder for me to tap into an adult mentality to be honest. It really is. I don’t really understand how adults function. I’ve been called upon a couple of times by people in LA who say ‘I have this script. Can you polish the dialogue? Can you work on the characters’ And I read it and it’s about grown-ups, and I don’t even know how they’re supposed to talk. What do people talk about when they get home from work? I don’t know. I don’t know what kind of conversations normal people have. So for me this is a very comfortable world. It doesn’t take a lot of work to get into that mindset.”

 

On Jennifer and Needy:

She’s “kind of a bombshell. She’s clearly the hottest girl in school, and she has an entitlement complex.” She and her best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried) have a sort of “S&M dynamic” in their relationship since childhood. Needy is like “our Nancy Drew.” She’s kind of nerdy, she’s very anxious, an overachiever, very intimidated by Jennifer. “They’re the kind of girls that would never ordinarily be friends, but they’ve had this friendship since childhood, and it’s sort of turned toxic and they can’t tear themselves away. You had that friend you grew up with and even though you had nothing in common, you stick it out for some reason. They have that bond.”

 

On being inspired by the Midwest:

“The Midwest, in this case, absolutely. Because it’s rural Minnesota, actually, so I was able to play into the creepiness of the woods and waterfalls, that sort of rural isolation. The fact there’s a Midwest sort of sets the story in motion. They really aspire to escape, and this band that we’re seeing play today [Low Shoulder] they represent ‘the guys from the city’. Cosmopolitan, cool people. And they want that, and their desire for that is what leads to their demise.

 

About the Satanic band, Low Shoulder, that sacrifices Jennifer: In the original thought process, the band was probably the second thing I came up with after the friendship. Because I thought, ‘Who would you least expect to be Satanic?’ I thought one of those sort of adult contemporary, safe… I’m not going to name names, but one of those rock bands. We see them at charity events, and they seem like the nicest guys. Your mom loves them. How funny would it be if the minute they got offstage, at Live Aid or whatever, they’re all like ‘let’s fuckin’ sacrifice some virgins!’ You know what I mean? I thought it would be funny if they were dicks.”

 

On her inspirations:

You cannot write a high school horror movie without thinking about Carrie, obviously. But I was also thinking about… I don’t even know if this scene made it in. I wrote a scene where Needy was reading an EC comic because I wanted people to understand that sort of lurid, desperate feeling. And Creepshow is probably my favourite horror movie. I thought about that a lot.”

 

Is the movie gory?

It’s good that I have people to hold me back, because oh man, I think in the earlier drafts it was a lot gorier.

 

About women in horror films:

They often come out ahead, though. If you think about like Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween

 

The last girl.

The last girl, that’s it. I think women have always been sort of revered in the horror canon in the way that they’re not in other genres. However, the one thing that I wanted to do differently… I think even in horror women don’t get the best lines. I wanted to put interesting things in women’s mouths. Every time I say that it sounds dirty. I’m thinking about horror movies that express female anxiety. There’s a lot of stuff that is kind of addressed in this movie in subtle ways, like eating disorders, societal pressure to look a certain way, the needless competition for guys, and the ways women kind of undermine each other instead of being supportive the way bros can be.”

I think of it as subtle, but I’m not known for subtlety. So it’s probably like a fucking mallet.

 

About Jennifer and Needy’s sexuality.

The interesting thing is that usually in a movie like this Jennifer would be sexual and Needy would not be. Needy is not desexualized in this movie at all. Needy has a sex life. Like, nerds fuck. People forget about this in movies. I think that they’re both sexual beings, not just Jennifer. I think Jennifer gets herself in trouble by being shallow more so than sexual. I didn’t want to make another movie where people get punished for being sexual.

 

On avoiding clichés:

I hate it when people pop up in mirrors.

 

The pressure of following up Juno:

It’s actually a great relief because most of my peers are trying to build to that [an Oscar], and I’ve got that out of the way. Now I can write stuff that I want to write. I just enjoy writing. I would have no problem being a hack. I would even write bad stuff for hire just to be a writer for a living is really fun.

 

On the title:

 

I like titles with people’s names in them, and ‘Jennifer’s Body’ is actually a song by Hole, and I always thought that was a cool title for a song.

 

Is there a monster in the film?

Yes, the female psyche. I know, I just wanted to see your face fall. (laughs)

 

Is Jennifer’s man-eating a metaphor:

Yeah, definitely. I always say this, and whenever I say it people look at me like I’m insane, but if you’ve ever been in love with somebody or been infatuated with somebody, you feel like you actually want to eat them, you feel like you want to EAT THEM! It’s not enough for them to exist outside of you. You want them to be a part of you. I think sex is a form of consumption. For me to write that stuff was very fulfilling.

 

Is she eating out of revenge?

No, she’s feeding, she wants their mojo, their energy.

 

On her style of writing:

If I had to decide between being branded as a very specific kind of screenwriter and being thought of as sort of very erratic, I would probably prefer the latter. People forget: Juno is my first screenplay. It’s very bizarre to me to be rewarded on that scale for your first screenplay, which is full of mistakes in my opinion. It’s clearly the work of an overexcited, manic person who’s never had the opportunity to write before. It sounds like a crazy lady to me, but people love that movie and I do, too.”

     I like writing funny dialogue. I do. I don’t want to stop doing that. It’s easy to write fake Diablo Cody dialogue. I don’t want to be that easy to pin down.

 

Is she less manic here?

No, I was still out of control. Because at that point they were about to make Juno and I was like [shrieking], ‘Ah, I can’t believe it! Let’s write some more!’

 

The teen is Juno were sweet. Are they sweet here?

No, I think that they’re opposite sides of the same coin. I think Juno is a life-affirming, warm look at teenagers, and this is showing how atrocious they can be. And I hope people aren’t disappointed by that. ‘Oh, it’s so refreshing to see such a warm, pleasant film that the whole family can see.’ I would like a family to go see this movie together.

 

Your producers called this a “warm” horror movie.

They did not. Oh, they are so full of shit. That’s the machine right there.”

 

Should teen girls see Jennifer’s Body?

I actually do think it’s important for teenage girls to see this movie because it’s important to see big representations of yourself in movies. It’s important. They’re underrepresented.

 

Diablo writes these age ranges “because I am emotionally stunted and I still feel that’s where I am. I’m so conscious of class all the time, and usually you outgrow that. But every day I’m seeing cliques everywhere in my life, and it’s still interesting to me.

I channel so much of my crap into the characters and use them as mouthpieces for my opinions. Anyone who’s ever had the experience, male or female, of being the less hot friend in high school who gets stuck with the other less hot friend, to me any frustration I ever had is part of Needy for sure.

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