Six days and hundreds of movies into the Toronto Film Festival, only certain flicks from earlier in the week — eons ago, really — still resonate. Juno is one of them. Directed by Thank You for Smoking’s Jason Reitman and written by a former stripper named Diablo Cody, it won’t open till Dec. 14, but you might want to put it on your holiday screening schedule now.
In the comedy, Ellen Page (X-Men: The Last Stand) plays a wiseacre Minnesota teen who gets rid of her virginity one day in the basement with her friend, Bleeker (Superbad’s Michael Cera), and ends up pregnant. (”I am for shizz up the spout,” as she puts it to her friend Leah, played by Olivia Thirlby.) Rather than have an abortion, she agrees to give her baby to a childless couple who take out an ad in the local Penny Saver looking for a kid. The couple is played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner (who, as it happens, also costar with Jamie Foxx in the Midldle East action thriller The Kingdom, opening Sept. 28.) EW.com got the team talking in a hotel suite in Toronto earlier this week.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I just saw Juno at a screening. But you’re also in The Kingdom together, which I haven’t seen yet.
JASON BATEMAN: You’ll have to pay to see that one.
JENNIFER GARNER: And we’re in another movie, starting in a couple weeks.
Is that true?
GARNER: No. I just thought I’d start a rumor.
BATEMAN: C’mon! No, she’s off doing high-brow theater in New York with the most talented man in the world.
GARNER: I’m doing Cyrano de Bergerac with Kevin Kline. I start rehearsals on Tuesday.
BATEMAN: They’re doing that True West role-swapping thing — is it every other week?
GARNER: Yeah, I just got fitted for the nose.
What made you guys want to do Juno?
GARNER: Scripts like this don’t come around that often. You read on the front page: ”Diablo Cody.” Even her name was such a mystery. Who is this woman? And I Googled her to try to find out, because I didn’t know if she was a woman or a man or what she had written before. I had never heard of her. Then I got her book [Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper], and then I saw her on Letterman, on YouTube. [To Bateman] Did you ever see that?
BATEMAN: Oh really? No.
GARNER: She’s hysterical.
BATEMAN: Did Letterman like her? He’s pretty picky with the women.
GARNER: Yeah, he liked her.
BATEMAN: [To EW] Yeah, same. I did like the script. But I really liked everybody that was involved with it. I came on very, very, very late, but it just seemed like it was something I’d be lucky to do.
Jennifer, I heard that you recommended Jason for Juno after working with him in The Kingdom?
BATEMAN: You know what? I have incriminating photos of her that she’s trying to get back from me. So she figures, I’ll get him in The Kingdom, I’ll get him in Juno. She’s close. I told it was going to take three films.
GARNER: Right. That’s why I thought maybe if I started that rumor —
BATEMAN: I might just release them to EW, and it’s going to be a good spread for you guys. And ”spread” is the operative word.
GARNER: [To EW] But yes! I did. I feel like any scene with Jason is going to be better than what it is on the page.
BATEMAN: [To EW] Did you get that?
GARNER: And that, uh, he makes things funnier but always from a place of who the character actually is. So I said, ”Please, Jason, do this with me — oh please, oh please?”
BATEMAN: She’s a really nice person, this one. But I don’t do anything funny in the movie!
NEXT PAGE: ”Oh, I’d love to do a rom-com, Jason! Except, I’m scared of ever having to actually kiss you, because I think that’s weird.”