Interview: Jason Reitman

He didn’t direct it, but Jason Reitman’s hands are all over Jennifer’s Body

JENNIFER’S BODY directed by Karyn ­Kusama, written by Diablo Cody, with Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons and Adam Brody. A 20th ­Century Fox release. 103 minutes. Opens Friday (September 18). For venues, times, and trailers, see Movies.

This is how film festivals work: one day I’m at the Park Hyatt talking to Jason Reitman in his capacity as a producer of Jennifer’s Body two days later I’m at the Four Seasons talking to him about his own movie, Up In The Air, his eagerly anticipated follow-up to Juno. Which was written by Diablo Cody, who then wrote Jennifer’s Body, which Reitman set up at Fox with Karyn Kusama directing.

When I have my first conversation with Reitman, it’s the day after Jennifer’s premiere at TIFF, and he’s still pretty jazzed about it.

“It played great,” Reitman says. “It played like a rock concert. But we’re the opening Midnight film – that’s going to be a good time no matter what.”

For reference, Up In The Air is the movie where George Clooney plays a corporate terminator who lives in a bubble of airports and hotels. Jennifer’s Body is the one where mean girl Megan Fox gets all demonic, forcing nerdy Amanda Seyfried to try to stop her. One is being positioned as a serious Oscar contender the other is a horror movie in which Fox eats teenage boys.

“There are only so many movies you can direct,” he explains. “And yet there are movies that I want to make sure make it to the screen in as honest a way as possible. So when I look at a Jennifer’s Body, I think: I love Diablo. I love the screenplay. I’m going to be directing Up In The Air there’s no chance I’ll get to direct Jennifer’s Body. So I’m going to make sure Jennifer’s Body gets to the screen without being fucked with. And I’ve developed a certain amount of leverage that allows me to protect Diablo – protect Karyn, protect these actors – so they get to make the right movie. And that’s the gig.”

The film’s marriage of humour and horror is a little wobbly – particularly in the scenes built around Cody’s trademark slang ‘n’ snark dialogue – but the playful menace in the key horror sequences makes Jennifer’s Body an interesting throwback to landmark genre films like An American Werewolf In London.

“The 80s horror film was a cue for all of us,” Reitman explains. “We’re all around the same age, and we all grew up on those movies. Because of that, we all knew, ‘Okay, fuck Hostel, we’re going back to the horror films that mean something to us, that have interesting characters.’ We had a few conversations about that and Diablo was off to the races.”

The next time we meet, Jennifer’s Body feels like a distant memory, and everyone’s talking about Up In The Air’s mounting Oscar buzz. Reitman plays it down, much more interested in George Clooney’s ability to fit a 45-second speech into a 30-second tram ride.

“He makes me look good,” he says. “He makes me a better director. George Clooney is one of the last great men, and I know people say the same fuckin’ thing about him every time, but it’s the absolute truth. All I have is good things to say about him.”

Before the fest ends, we may yet see each other again his name’s also on the credits of a third film at TIFF, Atom Egoyan’s Chloe, which he produced with his father, Ivan.

“It’s the accessible Atom Egoyan film we’ve all been waiting for,” he says.

Interview Clips

Jason Reitman on the return to character-based horror:

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Reitman on Megan Fox’s secret:

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Reitman on his upcoming movie, Up In The Air:

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