Before pro-lifers go embracing
, writer of
- the snappy indie about a pregnant 16-year-old who weighs an abortion, but then decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption - consider the first-time screenwriter's feelings on another flick.
She hates -
Children of Men
, last year's sci-fi parable about a world where women have become infertile, and everybody is really, really torn up about it.
"I think a world without children sounds awesome," says Cody. "Fine dining would get so much better. The entire message of that movie was just completely lost on me."
She is, of course, joking - sort of. Like
, nominated for three Golden Globes on Thursday (best picture/comedy or musical, best actress/comedy or musical, and best screenplay), Cody in person is a mix of smarts and smart-aleck, funny, cool, and perhaps just a bit too studiously offbeat. A Midwesterner who made her way into screenwriting after a producer discovered her blog, Cody is the author of the memoir
Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of An Unlikely Stripper.
("I get identified as a stripper because I wrote that book, and I understand why, and it can follow me around forever and I don't mind, but I feel like a fraud, a poser, compared to
Cody was inspired to write
- which stars a brilliant
in the title role - in part by the high school experiences of a close friend. The movie, directed by
, also boasts
(the bandy-legged biological dad),
(the adoptive parents-to-be), and
(Juno's father and stepmother). The film opened Friday at the Ritz at the Bourse and Showcase at the Ritz Center/NJ.
And last week, Cody (real name
) and Reitman (son of
), were in town, sharing a couch at the Ritz-Carlton.
"I was starting to write what was supposed to be my next movie, which was another book adaptation," says Reitman, 30, who made his debut with 2005's deft political satire
Thank You for Smoking
. "I got a call one day from a friend saying, 'Hey, there's this screenplay you've got to read.' "
So he did.
"I read a lot of screenplays, and they are mostly real bad. It's just pages of disappointment - disappointment in writing style, characters . . . you get so used to seeing the same old stuff that even in a screenplay that has something unique, you wonder where and when the shoe's going to drop. When is it going to get boring and predictable?
was a screenplay that, page after page, every time there was a decision to be made as a writer - whether it was character description, or an action, or just a piece of dialogue - every time it was the right decision, a unique decision, and at the same time a
decision. . . .
"It was so startlingly good, and I connected with every aspect of it so strongly, that I knew I could not make the screenplay that I was writing. I had to make this movie."
Reitman sought out Cody and the couple clicked. There had been a director onboard prior to Reitman, but the vibe wasn't right, and when Reitman signed on he went looking for his star. He had seen Page in a nasty little indie,
. In that one, the actress, now 20, played a vengeance-seeking 14-year-old who seduces an über-yuppie suspected pedophile.
"Having seen that movie, the decision was just, like, duh," Reitman says. "For Juno MacGuff you need intellect, which she obviously had, and a kind of self-awareness and fearlessness masking vulnerability. And
showcased all that. And she has that kind of angelic face that makes her look like a real kid. We didn't want this to be Juno as played by a 30-year-old."
And then Reitman met with Page, who has been acting in Canadian TV and movies for years.
"So on top of all these things that I knew going into the meeting, I found a girl who was articulate, well-read, whose references were on par with Juno's references, who talked similarly, who was funny . . . and this smile
, this warmth, and it was done. The search was over."
Cody, who has a horror comedy script,
, scheduled to shoot in the spring, is likewise in awe of
"I was so intimidated. I still am," she confesses. "I still get nervous around Ellen, and she's 10 years younger than me.
"Occasionally I'll get a text message or an e-mail from Ellen, and it's like receiving a message from a boy that you like. It always gives me a very weird sort of validation - somebody that cool wants to talk to me!"
How did a kid from New York's Upper East Side end up doing the screenplay for
The Kite Runner
, about two boys in 1970s Afghanistan?
's novel, and from the childhood scenes in Kabul, I found those scenes so powerful - that's when I knew I wanted to work on the screenplay," says
. "It was the mix of the universal and the particular which I found so compelling."
Benioff, a novelist and short story writer whose screen credits include
, did his adaptation of
The Kite Runner
It was shot in Afghanistan last year, mostly in Dari (an Afghan tongue), and just received a Golden Globe nomination as best foreign-language film. Benioff says it was Hosseini's father who translated the script.
"I got to translate it back for the subtitles," Benioff says, grinning. "If an actor on set changed a line, I could change it back to the way I wrote it - and only a very few people in the theater will ever know."
The Kite Runner
, directed by
, opened Friday at the Ritz Five, Ritz East and Showcase at the Ritz Center/NJ.