Diablo Cody On Why Pregnant Women Can Have It All–And Direct

The Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Juno” on directing while pregnant, and how a movie’s like a roller coaster.

Diablo Cody On Why Pregnant Women Can Have It All–And Direct

Diablo Cody is the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Juno, Jennifer’s Body, Young Adult, and her forthcoming directorial debut, about a plane crash survivor. Fast Company recently caught up with Cody to ask about the inspiration she draws from roller coasters, the experience of directing while pregnant, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.


FAST COMPANY: You’re obsessed with roller coasters, and your husband proposed on one. Is designing a movie like designing a roller coaster?

DIABLO CODY: I remember in high school the teacher using chalk to sketch out story structure–and it’s a big hill! It has an approach, a climax, and a denouement, just like a roller coaster. And I think I’m an adrenaline junkie, and there’s nothing that will spike your adrenaline more than sitting in a theater and listen to an audience react to something you’ve written. That’s also why comedy and horror are my two favorite genres of film to write, because you get these outbursts of emotion from people, laughter and shock, and it’s really thrilling, and I like to be thrilled.

You posted on your Tumblr about the death of Ron Toomer, who you called one of the greatest roller coaster designers of all time. Do you analyze the structure of roller coasters you like?

You don’t even know the half of it. I could talk to you about linear induction motors, and angles of descent, and diving helixes. We could talk about roller coasters all day. It’s probably my primary hobby. In roller coasters, we talk about the concept of airtime, which is when you’re on a roller coaster and you suddenly pop out of your seat, you become weightless for a moment. And I think you’re always looking for those moments of airtime in a story, the element of transcendent surprise. It’s like the most interesting feeling in the world. You want to throw people for a loop, so to speak.

You recently had a baby, and have been working on post-production of your directorial debut. How far along in the pregnancy were you during shooting?

I was about six months pregnant while we were shooting. Believe me, when I’m pregnant, I hear my fair share of Juno jokes. People were surprised that I was going to direct this movie while I was pregnant, and I guess I felt it was important to not delay production and to actually go do it, because I wanted to show people that pregnancy is not a disability, and a pregnant lady can be in a position of power and crazy shit won’t happen. And we made it.

Do you want to weigh in on debates surrounding Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in the media?

God, I cannot believe the sexism in the media about that woman. Nobody would ever care if a male CEO was expecting a child–or frankly if a male director was expecting a child. I’ve worked with a lot of directors who had babies on the way or had them at home, and nobody ever said, “What are you doing here on set?” What really made me angry was there was an article about Marissa Mayer and the writer said that she couldn’t imagine that Mayer was sleeping with her baby in the same room as her. Was she just making that assumption because Marissa Mayer is a powerful woman and has a career? Because I’m a powerful woman with a career, and my baby sleeps in bed with me every night, and I breastfeed, and I do all those wonderful motherly nurturing things–and I have a really badass high-profile job. You can do both things.

This interview has been condensed and edited. For more from the Fast Talk interview series, click here. Know someone who’d be a good Fast Talk subject? Mention it to David Zax.

[Image: Flickr user Amy Puzia]

About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.