Interview: Why Hollywood’s Enraptured With ‘Juno’ Scribe Diablo Cody, Star Ellen Page

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CHICAGO – Diablo Cody fittingly ushered in her Chicago “Juno” junket in classic Diablo Cody style: The night prior, she blogged with brevity where she’d be kicking back and when.

Diablo Cody
“Juno” screenwriter Diablo Cody.
Photo credit:

Though a frequenter of the German bar scene, the Red Lion in Lincoln Park was Thursday evening’s sanctuary with friends off the beaten press path. While legal in Canada at 20, “Juno” star Ellen Page wasn’t at Cody’s side until Friday.

More than most, our interview especially paid no attention to the live recorder.

Instead, the laissez-faire time morphed into a blunt and beguiling conversation replete with cunning perspective, quick-witted commentary, unexpected bloody fingers and all things “adamant” (Cody’s word of the day) and “slutty” (Page’s).

Page came forthright out of the gates about her kissing scenes with “Superbad” comic phenom Michael Cera. She said: “Yeah, there were quite a few angles and takes, so we made out a lot.” Had there been need for more kissing takes, she said: “Hey, if he wants to dish it out, I’ll take it.”

She likened Cera’s charmingly geeky and blameless character in “Juno” to someone she’d date in reality. A lightbulb came on and Page volunteered: “It’s weird. He’s similar to a very good friend of mine.” Cody knew who and had met him.

Now Cody – who loathes the label of a “stripper turned blogger turned screenwriter” (more the latter than the first) – first spoke in our interview with modesty and irony. She gave props to her Juno persona with relative awe.

“The character is semi-autobiographical even though the story’s not. I feel a definite kinship with Juno. It’s an easy character for me to write. It felt very organic. I really based her on myself as a teenager, but Juno is way cooler than me. I didn’t always have the ready response,” Cody said absolutely with ready response.

Ellen Page
Ellen Page.
Photo credit: IMDb

She added: “I was a lot more emotional and immature. She’s a very brave, articulate young lady.”

Without needing to be prompted, Page was eager to illuminate her love for her character: “She definitely hides behind that – behind her sarcastic wit. The whole point of being an actor is learning to just be the person you’re supposed to portray. I really admired Juno and it was really easy for me to connect my heart with her heart.

“Whenever you play someone who’s honest, whole and well written, you’re going to be able to connect with them. Juno has a special place in my heart. I was obsessed with her. I read the script a couple years ago and wasn’t just interested in pursuing it. It was as if this needs to happen.”

At the time, Page had just viewed “Juno” director Jason Reitman’s “Thank You For Smoking” and was about to convene for a general meeting. One week after the meeting had been arranged, the news surfaced that Reitman would be directing “Juno”. Page says on the twist of fate: “I was in cloud nine.”

Wanting the leading gig in “Juno” was just as clear for Page as it was for Reitman. As for Cody: “The instant her name came up from the beginning of the process, I knew she’d be amazing. She’s one of the best of her generation. When Jason came on board, he was adamant about her and I was 100 percent behind him.

“In terms of casting, I put my trust in Jason as I did with many aspects of the film,” Cody said. “He was adamant about the cast he wanted.”

Cody’s one not only to think quickly before she speaks but also to listen to her own words after she does. She then discerned about herself: “I’ve used the word ‘adamant’ twice. That’s the first and second time I’ve used that word in a really long time. It feels kinda good.”

Ellen Page (left) in Juno
Ellen Page (left) in “Juno”.
Photo credit: IMDb

Page appreciates the fine art of fine vernacular, too, and offered: “My word that I’m using a lot lately is ‘slutty’. It’s good. It can have nothing to do with the word. If someone orders a tuna sandwich, slutty!”

With the film’s screenwriter at her side, Page was posed the question of whether she had to deliver any lines she despised.

“Honestly, no,” Page said. “There were some that felt more awkward and some I totally put my faith into Jason for it not to be ridiculous. Everything she wrote felt extremely organic to me. I didn’t speak the exact same way as Juno did when I was 16, but I did have my own specific language with friends.”

Back to Cody’s past and present, her essence today is drawn from all the good and the shameful of yesterday. While sometimes slapped with the negativities associated with a brief stint as a stripper, it’s perhaps surprising to learn she’s in fact more at odds with what has principally crafted her career.

“I tend to be somewhat ashamed of my blogging past,” Cody offered. “Blogging is vanity. It’s self-publishing. There’s no prestige in it. That’s not to say something has to be prestigious to have merit, but there’s something cheesy about being the first blogger turned screenwriter. I mind the stripper comparisons less.

“But [blogging is] where I come from. I owe my entire career to blogging. I was discovered because of the blog.”

She then interrupted herself due to a minor medical surprise: “I’m sorry. There’s blood all over my hand. I just cut myself really badly. It’s one of those small cuts that produces a ton of blood.” It’s that randomness – that quirkiness – that propels people’s growing interest in her. You never know what to expect with her.

Ellen Page and Michael Cera in Juno
Ellen Page and Michael Cera in “Juno”.
Photo credit: IMDb

In our Oct. 16 review on “Juno,” we wrote: “Cody is used to clever wordplay to pad earnest moments of connection and soul bearing. Formerly a brief stripper, Cody’s long-running blog gained national exposure with her memoir ‘Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper’.”

So how did Chicago-native producer Mason Novick discover Cody’s blog? Was he searching for porn?

Page silently nodded her head. Before treated with the answer from Cody, Page’s own avant-garde personality launched her into tangential narrative in response to bloody digits.

“I have scars all over my fingers because I’m a fucking klutz,” Page acknowledged. “I [recently] moved into a [new] place [and] bought nice hiking shoes. I like to hike. I was wearing them in my place. I have a really old apartment and everything’s wood.

“I totally ripped my fingers to shreds with a brand-new knife I bought. It’s the only thing I spend money on. I have used furniture and whatever, but I like cooking and good knives are important. There was blood everywhere and it had gotten all over my shoes.”

Though she seemed apologetic for divulging the glimpse into her personal life, without interruption her mind fired back to: “Oh. Porn. Mason. Searching.” Cody now dished out our answer.

“Mason has never really told me the whole story because we have an extremely professional relationship,” Cody said on reflection while staring into her past. “I believe he said he was Googling ‘pussy’ and found The Pussy Ranch,” which is the title of her current blog.

Jennifer Garner (left), Jason Bateman and Ellen Page in Juno
Jennifer Garner (left), Jason Bateman and Ellen Page in “Juno”.
Photo credit: IMDb

“That means vagina,” Page jested for clarification.

Cody pressed on into the story of her manufacture: “Who hasn’t Googled ‘pussy’ or ‘cock’ during a dark, lonely moment? He was probably at work, though. That’s the funny part.

“He found my blog and started reading it – shockingly. There probably wasn’t a lot of visual material for him to work with, but there was a lot of cynical blabber about the sex industry. He for some reason thought I would make a good screenwriter. I absolutely love that man.”

Cody offers her love for Novick with purely professional undertones, of course, as she has been married to Jonny Hunt for the past three years. They relocated from Chicago to Minnesota and currently reside in Los Angeles. The couple appropriately met where Cody spends much of her personal and professional time: online.

While Cody continues developing a cult following as one of today’s most promising screenwriters, being tagged “the new Tarantino” is her most prized praise yet.

“Ah hah!,” she declared with elevated volume and unadulterated pride. The meek chic geek then returned: “I wish I were that talented. I wish I had one pixel of [Quentin] Tarantino’s talent. He’s an absolute hero of mine. That [praise is] Jason Reitman’s largesse. That’s very nice of him to say. [Tarantino is] a fucking icon.”

Page interjected with sarcasm: “Who’s Quentin Tarantino? Does he go out with Oprah?”

Stay tuned for part two of this interview, which will be published shortly. “Juno” will open in limited theaters on Dec. 5.

Dec. 7, 2007 update: Part two can now be found here.

By Adam Fendelman

© 2007 Adam Fendelman,

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