While “Juno” has already come out in select cities, it’s currently expanding to a lot more this weekend and next week. And since this expansion was pre-planned, I decided to wait to post the interviews till more of you could see the film. I thought with a movie like this, something unusual and great, it could use a bit of extra help and perhaps running the interviews late might cause more of you to see it. While I know the Collider audience isn’t massive… we do have a number of readers.
Anyway, if you haven’t yet heard the deafening buzz about this movie, let me add some fuel to the fire. “Juno” is a refreshingly honest portrayal of a teenager who has to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Playing Juno is Ellen Page, and she gives one hell of a performance. While watching I never saw her acting…I just saw a teenager trying to figure out what to do and how to deal with a difficult situation.
The film was written by Diablo Cody, and there is a reason why she’s the flavor of the month. Her dialogue is razor sharp, with characters that are three dimensional and not the usual cardboard cutouts that we always seem to watch in every movie. With the amount of films I see every week, it’s a joy to see something that surprised me in so many ways.
Anyway, I recently participated in small roundtable interviews with a lot of the cast and the one you’re about to read is with Ellen Page & Michael Cera. During our time the two of them discussed making the film, what they did to bond, what they have coming up and a lot more. And for those who saw the clip of Michael Cera getting fired from the movie “Knocked Up” and thought it was real… he can’t believe so many bought into that. He talks about it at the end of the interview.
And since I won’t be transcribing all the interviews I did, if you’d like to hear Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody or J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney just click on their names. Finally, if you missed the clips I posted for “Juno” you can watch them here. As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio as an MP3 by clicking here.
Q: How quickly upon reading the script were you like ‘I wanna do this project’?
Ellen: When I read the script it just blew my mind and I fell totally in love with it and I just really wanted to be a part of it.
Michael: How quickly?
Ellen: How quickly? I don’t know. Page 4. No, I mean that’s exaggerating probably. But one of those things where immediately when you started reading it, you knew it was something special and then the more you read, the more it surprised you and the more you realized it was devoid of stereotype.
Michael: I really liked the format of the script. It was not written like a script. It didn’t look like she was trying to write it like a script. It was more like a book. [to Ellen] Do you remember that? Like I remember certain paragraphs were just broken up oddly and that kind of … I was like oh, it’s not like reading a script. It’s more like a book. That kind of made me want to do the movie. I thought well, if it’s written oddly, if it’s not written like a script, then it’s got to be a good movie. Now I’ve found out that that’s not the way to make a decision.
Michael: I won’t repeat that. It’s not a lesson I’ll soon forget.
Q: What did each of you like most about your characters? What about that character really caught your eye?
Michael: I really liked that my character is just kind of immediately left out of the equation, like I didn’t have any sort of control in the matter. It’s like, you know, a movie that takes course over 9 months or so and the whole time I’m just not aware of what’s going on and have no control over it and I thought that would just be fun to do.
Ellen: I was excited about this character because I felt like it was a teenage female lead that we’ve just never seen before and although she was incredibly unique and witty and all of these things, she was also very genuine and it all felt just very sincere.
Q: What do you say to people that ask is this a pro-life film?
Ellen: No, I think it approaches it in an extremely democratic way. Diablo Cody wasn’t writing a script about a 16-year-old girl that got an abortion. She was writing a script about a 16-year-old girl that got pregnant, decided to have the baby and give it to a young, yuppie, uptight couple for adoption. That’s what the movie is about. You know what I’m saying?
Q: You just ruined it.
Ellen: Sorry. And I think she dealt with it in a democratic way. She goes to the clinic and Juno deals with it in a relatively nonchalant manner and the reason she decides to leave is actually just because of some random, weird reason. It’s about finger nails.
Q: Was there any discussion of the larger issue during the filming or were you just focusing totally on the characters and their situation?
Ellen: There was no discussion. I didn’t even think about it when I read the script. And then we were shooting the movie and somebody was like, ‘Boy, press is going to be fun.’ And I didn’t really know what they were talking about because to me it’s just…you know…and the film shows it as an extremely viable option which is obviously the most important thing for young individuals.
Q: Your character starts off very knowing and she has lots of pithy comebacks for people and then as her pregnancy proceeds she becomes more vulnerable and acts more her age in a way. Was it a conscious choice to try to play her like that? Or was that something that was in the script? Or a piece of direction you received?
Ellen: I don’t know. I mean things all come together in whatever process they come together and I feel like yeah, a big part of being young is maybe some arrogance and not even necessarily on purpose. It’s just that’s when you’re developing an independent mind and you’re learning a lot at kind of an intense, rapid rate. And you know Juno obviously goes on a pretty intense journey. The film doesn’t overdo the intensity of it which is one of the reasons why I liked the film but yeah, she definitely goes through a lot of personal growth and such in the extremeness of the situation.
Q: Did you know when you were filming it that this was going to be a special film? Did you feel it when you were making it?
Michael: I think I was really excited and thought it would be really good and Jason was doing a lot of cool things and he had just had a baby and I think that was really contributing to his…he always had… Like I feel Ellen’s stomach in one scene and he’s like, ‘That’s the craziest feeling. You have no idea what this feels like. Your mind has to be blown by this.’ So that helped a lot. I felt really good about it when … I knew it was a good script and really liked it and thought it had the potential to be really good. And I think I felt it was going well when we were doing it.
Ellen: I pretty much agree with that. Yeah. Good script, good people coming together, you know, good vibes all around.
Q: I’m curious about how the tone of the movie came together because it could so easily have turned into one of those quirky indie movies and it doesn’t. Is that something you guys were really focusing on – not making yourselves too quirky and cute – when you were making the movie? Was that something Jason was focusing on?
Ellen: You make a good point. It’s really crucial to achieve that balance with a film like this because it is unique and witty and then there’s the tendency to force that and then it becomes contrived. I know the feeling like ‘Give me a fork that I can stab in my eye’ in those kinds of movies. So I think there’s a lot to be said about Jason’s directing style and the cast he put together – Michael, Jason Bateman, Allison, J.K. – they’re all so funny and it’s so understated and extremely sincere and it was just about bringing the sincerity and the honesty into it.
Q: What was the level of improv on this? So much of the dialogue seems so naturalistic, is that all Diablo or was that improved on set?
Michael: A lot of it stuck pretty much to the script. Watching the movie, I remember a lot of my favorite lines in the movie being exactly how they were in the script. There was never really a need for it and it always felt like everything was there and it felt great running the scenes. Everyone was so excited about the script that just being able to do it as it was, was enough.
Q: I’m curious how your life has been going this year with the success of “Superbad” and your appearance at Comic-Con and everything? Can you comment a little on the success you’re having this year? It seems you’ve been involved with a lot of good projects.
Michael: It’s been pretty good. I have no control over it. Superbad was a lot of fun to work on and make. That was great. It’d be easier to talk about that I think. I have no idea about the rest of this stuff. It did pretty well I guess and everyone was happy. It was great.
Q: You’ve done a lot of comedy, Michael. Do you feel that’s something you’d like to keep pursuing?
Michael: Yeah. If the right things come along that are good. I guess it’s just more about if something’s good or not, the scripts.
Q: Did you guys rehearse for this? Do you believe in rehearsal or do you like to just get on set and kind of plan it as it happens?
Michael: [to Ellen] Do we?
Ellen: Very minimally.
Michael: Not a lot.
Ellen: There wasn’t too much.
Michael: It wasn’t maximal.
Ellen: We were just getting to know each other, you know.
Ellen: I think it depends on the projects.
Q: What kind of things did you guys do to try to bond?
Michael: It was minimal. It was pretty minimal.
Ellen: There was some wee playing.
Michael: [Laughs] Yeah. Whatever.
Ellen: I boxed Dan and I beat him. We went to the Aquarium.
Michael: Yeah, that’s true. We went to the
Ellen: Yeah, it was pretty amazing.
Michael: We watched some movies.
Ellen: Oh. “Wet Hot American Summer.”
Michael: “Wet Hot American Summer.”
Ellen: It’s a funny movie.
Michael: “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.”
Ellen: “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” Yeah. There was some bonding a little then.
Michael: Some other stuff. I guess that was it. [Laughs]
Ellen: Some walks, you know.
Ellen: Walks. Sun was setting.
Michael: [Laughs] Yeah.
Ellen: You know.
Q: Did it take any time to get into the fat suit?
Ellen: No, no. It’s called pregnancy by the way. I’m teasing you. It was almost like a corset in the back. It didn’t take much time.
Q: Can you talk about your character’s relationship with Mark and maybe his feelings towards her?
Ellen: It’s ambiguous. I think my job in that sense was a lot easier. I think Jason Bateman had a much more difficult line to walk down because you know I’m playing a character and there’s a line in the film where Juno says ‘I just like being a piece of furniture in your weird life.’ And I think that’s very much the way she felt. This situation she found herself in gave her a portal into adulthood, a portal into being a part of that which I think when you’re 16 is something that’s exciting about growing up and what have you. So I think she was just kind of infatuated by him and was there and really was naïve in understanding that whole other aspect of the situation. And I think it’s two people that respect each other’s individual situations. Mark sees Juno as a sense of promise and a sense of freedom and he feels trapped in his adulthood I guess.
Q: Did you guy have many conversations about how to avoid the sort of dirty old man vibes? Did it feel like a prequel to “Hard Candy”?
Ellen: Yeah. We cut out…there’s a scene where I kind of attacked him in the basement. It’ll be on the DVD. Again I think Jason Bateman had the harder side of that and he talked a lot with Reitman about it. It was just about again maintaining that balance and it’s purposely ambiguous.
Q: What do you think of Mark? Do you think he’s kind of an asshole?
Ellen: No, no, not at all. I think he’s ….
Michael: [Laughs] That’s a funny question.
Ellen: I don’t at all. I think he feels trapped in his life and the timing wasn’t great but these things happen and if the situation had remained, it probably would have been a much more unhealthy environment to bring up a child.
Q: Can you guys talk about what you have coming up?
Ellen: Michael, what are you doing?
Michael: I’m working on a movie right now in
Q: How’s that going?
Michael: It’s going well. It’s probably going to come out in a year or something. Hopefully it’ll be good.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Michael: It’s a guy and a girl meet and it takes place in one night. They meet in
Q: Ellen, what do you have coming up next?
Ellen: I have another film coming out in April called “Smart People.” It’s premiering at Sundance and I’m also shooting hopefully a film this Spring called “Jack and Diane” which is with Olivia Thirlby who plays Lea in “Juno.”
Q: So is that the prerequisite now you have to be BFF’s in all the films?
Q: BFF’s – Best Friends Forever.
Ellen: Oh. We were attached to that film before. I knew her before “Juno” actually so I’ve known her for a little while.
Q: How close is the personality of your character consistent with your personality? How did you put yourself into that persona for the role?
Ellen: I don’t know. It’s an interesting question. How do you relate? You get it no matter what character you play. I feel like whenever anyone is honest and whole and well written, you’re going to be able to connect to that person because we’re all kind of made up of the same stuff. And I think that’s always one of the really powerful things about approaching each individual character and role and film. And with Juno specifically it’s again like in some ways I’m like her and in some ways I’m not.
Q: [to Michael] How about you and your character?
Michael: Did I relate to him? Yeah. I don’t know how I’d react if I were in this situation. But yeah, I think I’d be terrified and really feel like I don’t know what to do. I think he’s just really scared and that’s probably how I would react to this.
Q: Do people still think you got fired from “Knocked Up”?
Michael: I don’t know. Probably. I can’t believe that people think that those things are real. It’s crazy. I don’t get it.