Jason Reitman (photo from IndieWire)

Jason Reitman (photo from IndieWire)


Despite widespread media reporting, Megan Fox’s character in Jennifer’s Body isn’t a cheerleader — she’s on her high school’s flag team. The real cheerleader behind Jennifer’s Body is producer Jason Reitman. Best known as the director of Juno, Reitman took time out from directing the upcoming comedy-drama Up In The Air to shepherd Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody’s latest venture to the big screen.

Here he talks about director Karyn Kusama, making a feminist horror film, and why JB is a “warm” horror film:


On studio enthusiasm:

The studio is simply elated. They can’t wait to release the film. They called me recently, saying, ‘Hey, can we move up the release date by five months?’ Actually, I don’t think it’s going to be done by then.


On the advantage of being a producer vs. director:

I get to eat more craft services as a producer than as a director.


On director Karyn Kusama

You can only protect a director so much, and then they have to do their job well, and she’s just kicked ass. Usually, as a producer, you’re on the phone every night with the studio, getting notes about ‘couldn’t they do this? Couldn’t they do that?’ We speak maybe once a week instead of every night, and it’s always like ‘this is so great!’


On Jennifer’s Body being a “warm” horror film:

Most importantly, it’s a warm horror film. [Jason’s a horror film fan who goes to see more horrors than comedies. He even wrote a horror film at same time as Thank You For Smoking. His horror touchstones are A Nightmare On Elm Street and The Shining.] There was a warmth to that film that doesn’t exist today.

Most horror films today go into two categories for me: they’re either kind of slice-and-dice sessions or they’re really cold; this group of films that evolved from the movie The Ring. And whether they take place here or they take place in Japan, they’re very cold. And in both films there’s a kind of self-awareness that came out of the movie Scream. And 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, I empathized with them, and that’s what I read when I read Diablo’s screenplay. Now, sure, it has Diablo’s dialogue, which can come off self-aware in the way that teenagers these days come off very self-aware, but there’s a warmth to their characters. I really love these people, and for me it’s kind of a return to that.


On Diablo Cody:

She’s just a fantastic writer. The exciting thing about reading more and more of Diablo’s work is that there’s this fear when a young woman writes a screenplay and then wins an Oscar the first time out, you can’t help but presume ‘okay, was this it? Was that all the fuel in the tank? Did she just get lucky? And then you meet her and you go ‘oh no, this girl is actually really clever.’ And then you start reading more of her material and you say, ‘Oh, 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 kind of excitement reading this screenplay, and then for me as a producer, it was just ‘oh, yeah. I want to help tell this story.’


On the story:

Jennifer’s Body is more about two girls who are friends since childhood and what happens when you grow up and change. You evolve as a person from a toddler to a 16-year old, and all of a sudden you’re a different person and you become part of different social communities. But what does that say? And the horror is used as horror is used best, as kind of a metaphor for how horrific high school can be.


Will this work for Juno fans?

Oh yeah! Because it’s funny! Look, for me, and I really don’t say this as a sales pitch, it’s a complete entertainment experience. It gives you all the comedy of Juno, all the horror of a great scary film, and if you liked Juno you’re going to love this film because it has similar intricate, interesting, funny characters.

Comedy and horror, they’re cousins, they’re related. They both come from storytellers who want to specifically affect the audience and elicit specific reactions during the movie. You want to make someone laugh at a very specific moment, you want to scare the shit out of them at a specific moment. So I imagine a fan of Juno is going to be a big-time fan of this film.”


On JB and gender:

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 generally been made by guys from the beginning of time! Movies have generally been made by guys since the beginning of time. So the fact that you not only have one but you have four really interesting female voices in this film, there’s something really cool about that. The idea that instead of a movie about a guy who’s slowly picking off beautiful girls, there’s a young woman who is going through a high school, picking off every type of guy there is. As a guy, you go to this movie and she basically kills one guy from each clique. So you’re just kind of waiting until your time’s up. ‘Yup, that’s me. I’m just about to get it.’ And there’s something fun about turning the table.

Too often when you see a movie ‘from the women’s perspective’, it’s kind of bullshit. It was actually just made by guys, and you can kind of sense that. It’s like ‘here’s your movie, women!’ And this is not that at all. In many ways, Dan [Dubiecki, producer], Mason [Novick, producer] and I are guests at the table, and it’s pretty great because this is a kick-ass film, and it’s not something that Dan, Mason or I could ever have written, and I certainly don’t think I would have done as good a job as Karyn is going on it.


On how Hollywood views horror:

There’s a bunch of different camps. There’s the Screen Gems camp, which is just kind of a factory of horror where they’re just trying to hit dates, and that’s kind of all there is to it. I think there’s certainly a love of horror amongst filmmakers, amongst artists. Steven Spielberg started with a horror film. I think among the directors, there’s a real passion for horror films.

     But as far as how the companies work, look, it’s the most guaranteed genre – that if you supply certain elements, people are going to go see it, and it often doesn’t have to be good for people to go see it.

I like it for the comedy as well. I laugh a lot at horror films. If I’m scared in a horror film, I try to think about ‘what’s scaring me right now?’ Particularly now. If I’m in a moment where the character’s going for something and I feel myself tense, what is this? Particularly if it’s a bad movie but something still works.”


On marketing JB:

We started looking at Scream, about how they marketed that. Maybe think about the materials from that. The poster is Drew’s face with a hand over her face, the faces along the bottom. There’s nothing funny about that poster, and the trailer was pretty much straight horror as well, and we’ve been thinking about that a lot as far as how we go about this.

     We’re figuring that out now. It’s a very tricky question. This is a film from the makers of Juno which is an automatic connection because Juno is a film that warmed your heart and this is a film that wants to eat your heart! Maybe that should be the line. This is a film that’s definitely funny, definitely thoughtful and definitely scary. And we’re going to figure it out. This is not an easy equation.


On Megan Fox:

The big surprise… and it’s true – it sounds like a line but it’s totally true – she’s really fuckin’ funny. Funny the way Rachel McAdams was in Mean Girls. I knew she was beautiful. Seen her in Transformers and thought she was really good in that, she was really charismatic. And I thought, ‘Okay, she’s going to be very good in this.’ And then we got to set and I started seeing the little things she was doing with Diablo’s dialogue, which is really tough dialogue to do. I’ve seen auditions of people trying to do Diablo’s dialogue and, 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 want from her in this.


  1. This is a great interview! Happy to have read it.

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