Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody suggested that her 2007 movie “Juno,” telling the story of a pregnant teenager, might have been drastically different had she thought about writing it today, as a wave of GOP state lawmakers has passed legislation severely restricting abortion, including in Alabama and Georgia.
“I don’t even know if I would have written a movie like ‘Juno’ if I had known that the world was going to spiral into this hellish alternate reality that we now seem to be stuck in,” Cody said in an interview on the Crooked Media podcast “Keep It!” released Wednesday.
In the movie, high schooler Juno (Ellen Page) discovers she is pregnant after having sex with her boyfriend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). She initially considers getting an abortion, but later decides to have the baby and finds a newspaper ad from a young couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) looking into adoption.
When “Keep It!” co-host Kara Brown asked Cody “if you were to rewrite ‘Juno’ tomorrow, would she go to Atlanta and get an abortion,” Cody responded: “I think I probably would have just told a different story in general.”
Describing herself “as pro-choice as a person can possibly be,” Cody said that at the time she wrote the movie, she had not thought about what kind of political message the film could have because she didn’t know if it would even get made.
Cody wrote the film’s screenplay on a whim after attracting attention for a witty blog and a subsequent book about her job as a stripper. “Juno” went on to launch Cody’s film career and won her an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
In the interview, Cody recounted what she called “the most horrifying” response to the movie: Officials at her Catholic high school sent her a letter “thanking me for writing a pro-life movie,” she said. “I was like, ‘I fucking hate all of you.’”
To commemorate the film’s 10th anniversary in 2017, director Jason Reitman organized a live-reading of the screenplay, featuring an all-female cast and benefitting Planned Parenthood.
“In a way I feel like I had a responsibility to maybe be more explicitly pro-choice, and I wasn’t,” Cody said at the event, according to Vanity Fair. “Something that’s disturbed me over the years is people perceiving ‘Juno’ as an anti-choice movie.”
The fallout over Georgia’s abortion ban has rippled through Hollywood, as some actors and producers have considered boycotting the state, which offers a generous film and TV tax credit program that has attracted major Hollywood projects.
“It honestly something that I’ve been thinking about kind of continuously, like, in an endless dark feedback loop,” Cody said Wednesday of the new abortion law, which bans abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy when many women do not even know that they are pregnant. “It sucks so fucking bad.”
“It’s been heartening to observe that people are fired up about it,” she added. “I wish more guys were.”