The Prime of Miss Diablo Cody
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The Prime of Miss Diablo Cody
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The powerhouse screenwriter behind Juno and The United States of Tara is back this fall with a vengeance. Here, she talks with fellow Tara writer, producer, and friend Jill Soloway about her new film, Jennifer’s Body; calls out feminists for being too hard on other women; and explains why the world needs to see more size-ten ladies naked

A few years ago, a fellow writer was telling me about a woman she knew named Diablo Cody. Originally a Chicago girl named Brook Busey, Cody had changed her name, written a memoir about her time stripping in Minneapolis called Candy Girl, and at the time was getting great buzz around Hollywood surrounding a screenplay she had just written. That was pretty much all I knew about her before that movie Juno finally came out. And then when I saw it, I knew I had to meet her.

I was so moved by what she had done with Juno that it completely shamed me, pwned me, and inspired me all at once. Having carved out my own place in the business as a writer and co-executive producer on Six Feet Under, I had been marching around Hollywood to meeting after meeting claiming that movies about women and girls existed only to service the dominant male storyline, with good girls making good choices and bad girls making bad choices. I’d been pitching movies about women straddling both sides of the fence, getting to be antiheroes and fuckups. I’d been bitching about heroines having to be beautiful while guys like Seth Rogan got the girl. Then Juno came out, and here it was, a movie about a girl who was both sexy and a fuckup, deep-voiced and aware, solid and grounded, all in this really adorable way. And it was so successful, it racked up four 2008 Academy Award nominations and landed Cody an Oscar for Best Screenplay. FUCK ME. Why hadn’t I written it? When was I gonna write Juno?

Post-Oscars, I resisted the urge to starfuckerishly stand in line with everyone else at industry events trying to meet the now-famous Cody but was superexcited the day I found out Dreamworks was looking for writers for The United States of Tara—Cody’s series for Showtime, starring Toni Collette. My agent arranged a meeting, and we got on great, like a couple of secret feminists hiding out in Hollywood. Now, a year later, I’ve clambered my way up through the ranks of Tara to be an executive producer with Cody on the show, and all we do is laugh all day in the writers’ room as we churn out season two. That’s right! She’s my real live friend now!

When BUST called me to do this interview, I told them I would be thrilled. Cody, now 31, has had so much more happen in her life since she last appeared in the magazine, in the spring of ‘08. And with her new horror movie, Jennifer’s Body, debuting in September, 2009 is shaping up to be another big one for my friend. We met up in her bright pink, High School Musical–themed office for this chat.

How long have you been reading BUST?
I was an early adopter. I’ve self-identified as a feminist since I was a little girl. I think I found it when I went to college in Iowa. I probably saw it by a register. You know, where I bought my organic apples. It was very appealing to me.

Have you thought about what your BUST cover will look like?
Everybody enjoys seeing the better version of themselves; that’s always fun. And I know that it’ll make my mom happy. She’ll go to Barnes and Noble, and she’ll get her BUST.

So in March, The New York Times did a cool story about you and your gang of women screenwriter friends that you’ve dubbed “the Fempire.” I enjoyed reading it and seeing you in your delightful cape. Is there really a Fempire? Can I be in it?
You can be in the Fempire any time! And by the way, that was a one-of-a-kind superhero cape knitted by Diva Zappa. I was able to pull it closed like a cocoon and hide my body, because I didn’t want some asshole blogger to accuse us of being sexualized in the pictures. Isn’t it weird that women have to think of these things? Anyway, all four of us heard from aspiring young female writers after the article came out, and that meant a lot to me. The only women in the industry who tend to get any exposure are movie stars. But women are also writers and producers and Hollywood players. Girls need to see that. When men cruise around in a limo and make deals, it’s a stereotype. When we do it, it’s news!

Tell me about Jennifer’s Body.
Most people coming off an Oscar would probably write another film that is stereotypical Oscar bait, which I don’t know how to do. {quotes} When I wrote Juno, I thought I was writing Napoleon Dynamite for a girl.{/quotes} Which I still think is pretty much what I did. It’s still shocking to me that the movie won an Oscar. The other logical option would have been to write a big commercial movie, go for the payday. I didn’t do either, which probably means I’m an idiot. I decided instead to write a genre movie that reminded me of The Lost Boys and all the kind of movies that I used to watch when I was growing up, in the ‘80s. And that’s what this movie is. What really appealed to me was the idea of working with a female director. I’m sure somebody will prove me wrong, but I had never heard of a woman director and a woman screenwriter creating a mainstream horror film.

What’s the director’s name?
Karyn Kusama, who definitely has a feminist viewpoint, having done Girlfight. It’s not at all like Hollywood horror movies. So I’m proud of that.