Diablo Cody, Patton Oswalt & Charlize Theron talk YOUNG ADULT
Last weekend YOUNG ADULT opened on 8 screens with a solid $40k per screen average. Today it expands to theaters nationwide. I recently attended a press junket for the film written by Diablo Cody & directed by Jason Reitman. Below are the highlights from the press conference with Diablo Cody, Charlize Therom & Patton Oswalt. (Check out highlights from the Jason Reitman press conference right HERE)
DIABLO CODY on YA novels: Well, I’ve been an avid consumer of young adult literature since I was one. And I think some people leave that stuff behind when they become old adults, but I never did. And I was always interested in the fantasy world created in those novels, and that I think is the kind of thing we see reflected in pop culture more now than ever, with reality shows and these weird, fully made-up people living these fake fairytale lives on camera. And I think the idea of somebody whose priorities were completely screwed up, who wanted to live in that world, even though it’s completely unattainable, that was intriguing to me.
DIABLO CODY on research: You know, I actually, I didn’t talk to anybody, which is probably pretty lazy of me. But the feedback I’ve gotten has been really interesting. I actually, since we’ve started showing the film, I’ve heard from a couple people who are not only young adult writers, but are in the position that Mavis is in, where they are writing books that are credited to another person or to a creator. And they were very enthusiastic about the movie, and said that I nailed it, which felt good.
DIABLO CODY on Francine Pascal: You know, I’ve – kind of working with Francine right now. I wrote the “Sweet Valley High” movie that is currently progressing toward production, I hope. So I was kind of inspired by that world – the idea of anonymity behind art.
PATTON OSWALT: And you did like a Hard “R” “Sweet Valley High”, too, which I thought was really courageous of you.
DIABLO CODY: We’re hoping for the Hard “R”.
CHARLIZE THERON on Mavis Gary: I’ve never been a fan of labels, you knowI just, I think it’s very easy to kind of look at somebody and just kind of throw a label on them, they’re crazy or they’re – you know. And I’m not a big fan of overly justifying bad behavior, or why people are the way they are. I think that it’s a cop-out. And I don’t have a lot of empathy for that. So I didn’t really think of her – I thought the things that she did were pretty despicable; but then again, not like to the point where I was like disgusted by her. I never had a hard time not liking her I would love to go and have a beer with her. I mean, I would never let her hang out with my boyfriend. But I would love to hang out with her. I think she, you know, she’s entertaining about all of her stuff
DIABLO CODY on women behaving badly: I’m certainly not going to call it a step back, because that would be the opposite of what I’m trying to do as a writer, and also as a female. I feel like maybe – it’s funny, when people talk about “Bridesmaids”, they always talk about, “Oh, we’re seeing raunchy women.” And I say, “No, you’re just seeing women.” Like that’s what feels fresh about this, is you’re actually seeing women in complicated, funny situations where you would normally see male characters. So I don’t really see it as – seeing women behaving badly so much as just seeing more multi-faceted female characters. And I hope there will be more of that, because I’m enjoying it.
PATTON OSWALT on women behaving badly: You have finally made progress as a group if you can be depicted as fully – as the full spectrum. Usually, any kind of sub-group or smaller group in a movie goes from being made fun of and victimized. And then it swings too hard the other way, where they’re like amazing and always positive, which is just as dehumanizing. And then you finally like, “Hey, a single individual can be a hero and a villain and funny and an asshole at – well, just like we all are every second of the day. So you know, that’s definitely progress, too.
CHARLIZE THERON on a possible Academy nod: I know it sounds so unbelievably cliché, but I haven’t worked in three years. And to have the opportunity to come back and do something like this, with Diablo and with Patton, with Jason, who I really, really wanted to work with, and this kind of material – and to see people respond to it, has been the greatest gift. And so I can’t, I can’t even like think beyond anything like that. It’s just really nice to have people come up to me and have these little tiny anecdotes with like what they connected with in the movie. And the movie kind of puts them in this, a little bit of a Mavis mood, so they feel like really free to kind of, you know, admit that they’ve done things like Mavis – which is just so endearing. And I love it so much because I just feel like that is proof that we all kind of set out to do the thing that we wanted to do, and that we succeeded in that. And so that is really the greatest gift for me. Plus, I have an Oscar, so – [LAUGHTER] That was such an asshole thing to say.
PATTON OSWALT: Keep in mind, you don’t have an Oscar for the “Guest House”, so just keep that in mind.
CHARLIZE THERON: True, that.
DIABLO CODY on music selection: That’s what was so fun about it, was getting to sit down with Jason, and – Jason and I are the exact same age, so we were able to say, “Do you remember this one?” “Do you remember that one?” And when characters enter a space in this movie, a lot of this time, there’s like music playing, and it’s almost always a song from the 90’s, which was Jason’s wink at the genre. But yeah, it was – in fact, I was just thinking about that Teenage Fan Club song that Mavis is totally obsessed with and listens to in her car. And like that was probably my favorite song when I was 19 or 20, and I was a college radio DJ, and I would just play it constantly. Plus, it’s like six minutes long, so you could go to the bathroom.
PATTON OSWALT on his high school mix tape: I’ve got to say my high school mix tape would be, for me, when I was growing up, would be just the Repo Man soundtrack, because that is – that is such a mix tape for safe, suburban rebellion. And also for me, that was ten years behind punk, and I got to spend the summer of ’84 letting people in on, “You’ve got to listen to these punk bands.” Like, “Patton, we know, we – it’s been around since ’79.” “No, you don’t know, man, there’s this band called Black Flag.” “Yes, we know. Patton, they’ve already broken up.” “No, listen.” So it was just that kind of – that was my high school experience, is being ten years behind everything. That’s my mix tape right there.
DIABLO CODY on getting the film made: I really don’t think this film would have ever come into existence if it weren’t for, you know, the combined power of Jason Reitman and Charlize, and Patton. And –
PATTON OSWALT: I had no – trust me, – what, my Twitter followers helped get this thing made?
DIABLO CODY: Patton’s vast Twitter following willed this movie into being. [LAUGHTER] And so on my own, it would have been a no go. I mean, it’s a challenging movie; it’s a small movie. I feel like there has been – I have felt this pressure to write a big budget, romantic comedy, basically since I rolled into town. And I try, and it’s – it just doesn’t seem to be in my skill set. I just write small and weird. And so I did sense some resistance, but at the same time, you know, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with people who believe in me. And then when Jason gave the material his vote of confidence, that meant a lot, because he is, you know, very selective about his material, and the guy has never made a movie that’s less than great, in my opinion. So suddenly, we had a little more firepower.
CHARLIZE THERON on a high school crush: I didn’t have any boyfriends, but I had a massive crush on this guy who – this interviewer, that just did a story on me for Vogue, actually found, and –
PATTON OSWALT: What?
CHARLIZE THERON: Yeah, he found the guy that I had said – this guy did not know I existed, by the way, in school. And then he was all, like, “Yeah, tell her the crush was mutual.” Fuck that.
PATTON OSWALT: Yeah.
CHARLIZE THERON: The crush was so not mutual.
PATTON OSWALT: What was his name?
CHARLIZE THERON: And then he was like, “Oh, and I remember, she wore those glasses.” And I was like, “Hrrrmmmm.”
PATTON OSWALT: What was the guy’s name?
CHARLIZE THERON: Oh, I can’t do it. I’m –
PATTON OSWALT: Tell me the name.
CHARLIZE THERON: No, this guy’s gonna get hunted down.
PATTON OSWALT: Oh, okay.
CHARLIZE THERON: I can’t do it.
DIABLO CODY: It’s in Vogue; you can –
PATTON OSWALT: Oh, is it in Vogue.
CHARLIZE THERON: Hint, hint.
PATTON OSWALT: I have a subscription. It’s waiting in my house right now, I – it’s my Bible, people. I mean, look at how I’m dressed.
DIABLO CODY on UNITED STATES OF TARA cancellation: You know, it was one of those things that wasn’t a – it wasn’t shocking, because we never really had the audience that we wanted, in terms of numbers. And so I honestly was really grateful that we survived as long as we did, and really grateful to Showtime that they would support something that was that offbeat and interesting. And it was, you know, some of the most satisfying work that I’ve done. But it’s – you also have to understand that when you’re dealing in the realm of small and weird, like things don’t always survive. So you just appreciate them as long as you can, and treasure the experience, I guess… sometimes I think about the, like mythical fourth or fifth season, and where it would have gone. And I think we still had a lot of stories to tell. But I think it wrapped up nicely, considering we didn’t know that was going to be the last episode.
PATTON OSWALT on reading with Charlize: We were – we kind of got along right at the first table read. We were teasing each other and kind of, you know – we just, there was just something, a kind of a rapport there.
CHARLIZE THERON: Yeah, I don’t like rehearsal and Jason doesn’t like rehearsal, either. And I hate table reads. I hate anything where you have to say the words out loud.
PATTON OSWALT: And I can’t read.
CHARLIZE THERON: Yeah. [LAUGHTER]
PATTON OSWALT: So –
CHARLIZE THERON: That was a huge problem.
CHARLIZE THERON on the Africa Outreach Project: Thank you. It’s going great. My director is actually down there right now, looking at three new projects. And we’re just continuing to find projects that are really encouraging prevention care. And it’s just – I don’t know, I think if you do this kind of work, it’s like anything in life – if you don’t love it, you shouldn’t do it. And I just – I really love what we’re doing, and I really believe in it. I – you know, growing up in a country like that, and seeing how prevalent AIDS is, and understanding the immediate need, but feeling this kind of horrible neglect for people who just have no tools to understand how not to become HIV positive, just seemed so wrong to me. And it felt like a missed opportunity. And so we’re just really trying to encourage already existing NGOs to really support prevention care. So it’s been great.
PATTON OSWALT on comedy: Well, I mean, you were talking about how much you love Jason Reitman’s movies. And you watch his movies. And I think because you know you’re in the hands of someone that knows how to edit a film and how to edit a scene, and so when you – because we just knew, subconsciously, we were in such good hands, directing-wise, that we could relax enough. And that relaxation is what I think gets – the comedy was never needy. It was just like – we were never going for a laugh; it all came very naturally. And a lot of times, what was so great about the way that she played Mavis, was the laugh comes from her not giving me any response, and then I get more nervous, which is a really real thing, that a lot of actors really don’t have the balls to do. They don’t – like, they always want to be saying something or listening and reacting. And she was able to just go, “You know what? My character’s just not engaging in this scene at all.” And that is where the humor came from. So again, it was – you know, it came from knowing we were working with a good director. I got to play off somebody that really understood human nature, which is – that’s what’s important to comedy. Not knowing – comedy is knowing human nature. And then, so all of that kind of swirled together, and created a thing, and fade to Golden Globe. [LAUGHTER] I don’t know what I’m saying. I literally, I lost my own train of thought. But you know what I’m saying there? You asked a really smart question, and I answered it so stupidly.
PATTON OSWALT on choosing roles: Well, first, thank you for implying that I have any control over my career, that I get to choose projects. “Tell Spielberg to get ready to be disappointed; I’m going with Reitman on this.” I was very lucky to be offered this script. I was there at the – I got to know Jason through just, we both love film; we both own French bulldogs. So that’s kind of how we got to know each other. And then I started doing these table reads early for the script, so you know. But as far as my intentions, I just – I’m so beyond like genre, drama, comedy – I just want to do really good, interesting projects. And that can mean something like this script, which was so good when I read it, so good; or something like that little adult swim show that I just did, which was the most bizarre, but also a great script and a – just stuff that constantly rolls the dice down the felt and just goes for it. And this – man, this script went for it. So I was, you know, I – hopefully, someday, if I’m ever at a point where I have the luxury of intention, I will make the right choices. But so far I’ve been lucky enough that the choices I have been given have been really, really good.
PATTON OSWALT on meeting Jason reitman: We met at an awards ceremony and we were just gabbing about movies, and I was presenting an editor’s award. And I actually knew all the editors. Like that’s how much of a nerd, like those guys are like rock stars to me. And you could – it’s like the music geek that knows the bassist’s name, like that’s how excited I was. So then we started talking. And then he was – he saw on my phone, I had a picture of my French bulldog. And he goes, “I have a French bulldog,” and we started showing back and forth. This is – this is like the lamest.
PATTON OSWALT on getting the role: [Reitman] has these screenings at his house every Sunday. And then it just kind of led – basically, you know what, I did all the early readings, so I got this movie the way a squatter gets an apartment. I was just there. You know, like, “Ah, he’s got his mattress and his hot plate. Let him have it. He’s nice. The kids like him. He sweeps up the hall. Come on.” So, yeah.
For the final question, someone asks if the main character’s name is a reference to Lyla Garrity on FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Diablo corrects him that the name is actually Mavis Gary and not mavis Garrity.
PATTON OSWALT: Let’s have a different final question, because he kind of got the Garrity thing wrong.
CHARLIZE THERON: Yeah. Way to end this press conference, dude.
PATTON OSWALT: Wow, Dude. Her name is Mavis – her name is Mavis Vader – is that a – no, it’s not Vader. Oh, sorry.
So they allowed one more question, which lead to the most aimless & conversational answer of the night. What would you do if you could add 10 more minutes to the end of the film?
CHARLIZE THERON: I don’t know if I could add it straight on to this movie, because I like that Mavis leaves Sandra. But I do like the idea of like Sandra eventually, like in a sequel, Sandra and Mavis finding each other and taking that little fucked up Mini, on like a Thelma and Louise – Like, the two of them just like cross country driving, just damaged, just –
PATTON OSWALT: They just have an eye-rolling spree.
CHARLIZE THERON: Carnage.
PATTON OSWALT: They just –
CHARLIZE THERON: Yeah.
PATTON OSWALT: – drive, you know, and just roll their eyes at things, until the police –
CHARLIZE THERON: Yeah.
PATTON OSWALT: – kill them.
CHARLIZE THERON: Yeah. No – yeah. Nobody gets raped or anything like that.
PATTON OSWALT: yeah.
CHARLIZE THERON: They just like roll their eyes in the –
PATTON OSWALT: “Oh, great.”
CHARLIZE THERON: Yeah. Yeah.
PATTON OSWALT: Well, you know, every screening I’ve been to, people will come into the lobby and I’ll watch them talking. Here’s what I love about this movie, is that everyone has very specific ideas as to what happens [at the end]. They’re all completely different, and they’re all right. Like, it’s one of those movies where people keep – so – and then what – like what happens in the next scene, it makes – this is a great like, go to see the movie and then hang out and go, “What do you think she did?” “Oh, she totally is on the way down.” “Oh, I think she makes it.” Like that’s, again, that’s a testament to the writing, and to the – her performance.
CHARLIZE THERON: But seriously, Diablo, what are you going to write for the sequel?
PATTON OSWALT: Yeah, what is the sequel going to be?
DIABLO CODY: You know, I think, if I – you said specifically, I could add only ten minutes to the movie. I think I would do the Mini – either the Mini flying off a bridge and pausing in mid-air, a la Dukes of Hazard or Thelma and Louise.
PATTON OSWALT: [SOUNDS LIKE] Thank you.
DIABLO CODY: Or crazy credits.
CHARLIZE THERON: Crazy credits?
DIABLO CODY: Like funny credits for that ten –
PATTON OSWALT: Oh, nice.
DIABLO CODY: Like bloopers. Does that count for my ten minutes? Yeah, like an out take reel.
CHARLIZE THERON: That’s just lazy; you didn’t write that.
DIABLO CODY: I know. You see how I operate.
CHARLIZE THERON: You have to write it.
DIABLO CODY: Like –
PATTON OSWALT: Well, we’ll see you guys in 20 years for the Grumpy Old Adult panel. We’re very excited and we’re already working on that now.
Jerry Cavallaro – www.JerryCavallaro.com