JunoAnd the A set screenplay by a relatively unknown writer, Diablo Cody, quickly became a huge hit in 2007, winning the Academy Award, BAFTA Awards and Writers Guild of America for Best Original Screenplay, along with Oscar nominations for the film and then 20-Year-Old Elliot Page , who played the titular character.
It’s been 15 years since the film was first released, but it’s still a bit of a zeitgeist, spanning across a now particularly poignant cross-section of culture and politics as conversations revolve around the ethics of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to rescind Raw vs. WadeAnd the which has guaranteed for 49 years the right of a woman in childbirth to choose to continue the pregnancy, or to terminate the pregnancy by miscarriage.
in Juno, The teenage hero navigates an unplanned pregnancy and contemplates the option of an abortion, but ultimately decides to carry her child fully and puts her child up for adoption. Over the years, the film has had vocal supporters and critics who view the film differently based on its treatment of reproductive justice themes. In light of this, Cody spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about her intentions when writing the film over 15 years ago, and reflects on how it stands in today’s highly dangerous cultural context.
When you write the script for Juno, Do you remember how people used to talk about abortion and abortion rights?
I wrote the movie in 2005, 17 years ago. The movie is officially older than the protagonist, which is crazy to think about. When I look back at the time of writing the screenplay, I feel sad, because at the time it never occurred to me that my reproductive rights could be in jeopardy. If someone said to me at the time – as a younger, carefree feminist – this is 2022, Raw vs. Wade It would flip, I would have been horrified and I would have assumed we were rushing into some sort of unimaginable dystopia, and I would probably have been right. But at the time, it seemed impossible. I took Ro For granted, many of us have. I was just creating ; I never meant the movie to be any kind of political statement at all. I can’t imagine being so innocent again.
What inspired you to tell a story Juno, a story about coming of age where a hero’s growth is charted by the decision to nearly terminate an unplanned pregnancy, but then choose to carry it out for the full term? Have you seen this before, or did you feel like adding something new to the movie scene at the time?
I think the primary relationship I was interested in exploring in the movie was the one between Juno [played by Elliot Page] And both adoptive parents, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman characters. I thought that sounded like a great dynamic I hadn’t seen on screen before. I remember regarding the pregnancy itself a kind of conspiracy command [director] Jason Reitman described pregnancy as a “location” and I thought it was interesting. It was more than just preparation.
The whole aspect of choice, as crazy as it now seemed, was nothing heavier on my shoulders. I just thought: How can I bring this character into the living room with this couple who wants to adopt her child? Because I wanted to write this scene. So everything I’ve done up to that point has been in the service of that story. I wasn’t really thinking of anything else. To be honest, I thought I was writing a sample; I was trying to put my foot in the door in Hollywood. It never occurred to me that the script would be produced. I wrote most of it while I was working temporarily in Eden Prairie, Minnesota during my lunch hour. So I definitely didn’t think of it as that influential opus that I’m going to discuss 17 years later, that’s for sure.
How was your experience working to produce this movie? Have you encountered any opposition in Hollywood, especially given the subject matter? Has anyone read it as potentially too polarizing or political?
Not at all, because it was a low-stakes movie. There wasn’t a lot of money at stake. And at the time, there was a real appetite in the script market for these weird independent films. it was afternoon Little Miss Sunshine And the Napoleon Dynamite. I don’t think a movie like Juno He’s getting a theatrical release today. But at the time, people were still taking risks with stories like this. I don’t remember anyone worrying that it was provocative or anything like that.
Juno It was a critical and commercial success at the box office, and generated controversy: it was praised by some as a feminist film, and others criticized by others. It is against choice. Were you aware of the public dialogue about the film in 2007? And in the years since, has she participated in the discourse surrounding her treatment of abortion?
I didn’t have much clarity at the time because I got into this surreal reality of being a public figure overnight, something I didn’t expect to happen. It was downright shocking—and my head was off my ass—that I wasn’t very familiar with any of the cultural dialogue surrounding the film. It’s so weird to just be a writer and assume you’ll be enjoying this unknown forever, and then they just make fun of you Saturday Night Live.
I stayed out of the speech. This whole experience, which is old history now, made me very protective of myself. I’ve been really underground for a while – I don’t comment on my own movies much – but I’m emphatically pro-choice and I’ve been my whole life. It is important for me to make that clear. But, you know, I can understand why people misunderstand the movie. Looking back, I can see how it could be seen as an anti-choice. This terrifies me.
In 2008, I received a letter from some administrators at my Catholic high school thanking me for writing a film that aligns with the school’s values. And I was like: What did you do? My goal as an artist is to be a traitor to that culture, not to rise to it.
What are some of the challenges you have faced when writing about unplanned pregnancy and adoption? Did you have to do some reporting to figure out how to make the story real?
I was writing entirely from my intuition at the time, which may be unfortunate. Now I have kids, and I’ve had some of those experiences, so I think I’d probably bring a lot more to a story like this. But I’ve talked to some people.
Interestingly, the strongest criticism I’ve seen of the Generation Z movie on social media has nothing to do with the abortion story, it’s actually a very lively discussion about the ethics of personal adoption. Most people who are born as teens don’t have a story like Juno where they have a lot of family support, you know, Allison Janney [Juno’s stepmother in the film] He has their back. They don’t have the option to raise their children even if they wanted to, so many of them feel coerced. This is a discussion I saw on TikTok, and I think it’s a very worthwhile conversation to have.
People sometimes cite the sight of Juno going to the clinic and having an anti-abortion sign up front as anti-choice because that’s what helps her change her decision to continue the pregnancy and agree to closed adoption. But on the other hand, perhaps this can be read as realistic. Are there any parts of the movie that you’d bring back or rethink in hindsight?
Well, here’s the thing, as a teenager, I was very sensitive about the physical reality of the abortion process. I thought it sounded scary, which isn’t surprising when you consider the fact that I was bombarded with misleading anti-abortion propaganda at school. And I think that’s reflected in the movie: She goes to the abortion clinic, she kind of takes out the chickens (something I would realistically have done at that age, especially given all the religious trauma I was dealing with at the time). I am no longer afraid of miscarriage. I’ve got one now. Hell was much less terrifying than childbirth. But the movie is a reflection of what it felt like to be a girl.
I think the reason I was inspired to use pregnancy as a location, so to speak, is because it’s just that transformation. It felt like an appropriate metaphor for coming of age, so I have no regrets about writing the movie. I think it’s important that I continue to explain my feelings about it because the last thing I want is for someone to interpret the movie as anti-choice. This is my paranoia.
I never thought I’d revisit the movie – it kind of feels like something that should still be preserved in amber. But I’d rather have this account exist than [my] Silence is misinterpreted.
Gender inclusive language He recently appeared as a debater in the abortion rights conversation, and I was struck by how deeply Elliot Page took on the role of the pregnant hero in Juno. I think this is actually a really strong connection to today’s debates regarding the queer vision of the reproductive justice movement.
I fully support inclusive language. I think it’s great to reconsider Juno Through a strange lens, knowing now that the lead actor is a trans man. Obviously, at the time, I didn’t know it. So I can’t count on a radical reimagining of teenage pregnancy. But I think it’s a great conversation. And I’m glad we have that representation, even in retrospect.
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