The new film Tully, currently out in theaters, is breaking down barriers in the baby world. Postpartum depression, mental health, and a sprinkle of lesbianism is all mixed together in this humorous drama that stars Charlize Theron as Marlo.
Tully is the fourth collaboration between director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody, with others including the hit movies Juno, Jennifer's Body and Young Adult.
Many may know Reitman's father, Ivan Reitman, who is famous for directing the comedies Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Twins and Dave, among others.
Windy City Times: So you were born in Canada?
Jason Reitman: Yes, born in Montreal.
WCT: Do you speak French?
JR: My French is bad! I grew up in Los Angeles.
WCT: Were you around celebrities all the time when you were growing up?
JR: I grew up around movies. I was on set where there were actors, but I didn't go out with them. My parents were not the partying types and I certainly wasn't. I went to one party in high school and one party in college.
I was the prototype being locked into the A/V room. I was a nerdy movie kid.
WCT: Was there a celebrity that your dad directed who you had to meet?
JR: [Arnold] Schwarzenegger, when I was 10 years old. Arnold asked me a couple of questions, then said in that voice, "Gimme 20 push-ups!"
I was more geeky about filmmakers. I was much more excited to meet Steven Spielberg than to meet actors.
WCT: Did your dad make you want to go into film directing?
JR: I think it was the opposite. My parents would have been perfectly happy for me not to be in the film business. It came to a point that I was going to be a storyteller. My father was not only supportive, but convinced me to do it.
WCT: What went into the creation of Tully?
JR: Diablo called me and had another movie idea. She described the movie in two sentences and I said, "You have to write that!" Six weeks later she gave me script that was not only the first draft, but our shooting draft.
WCT: How was balancing the humorous parts with the serious moments?
JR: It was a tightrope, but I wasn't walking it alone. I had Diablo, Charlize and Mackenzie Davis, plus the producer, Helen Estabrook. All of us were up there together. Our goal is always real.
We all felt parenting and motherhood had not been portrayed that accurately. It is usually done slapstick-y. We wanted to create a mirror up there.
WCT: This was definitely not Three Men and a Baby!
JR: [Laughs] No, and I think there is a relief seeing something that is real onscreen. Parenting can feel scary for some reason. We share so much right now about our sex lives, and what vacation we are on, but people don't talk about how it is to be a parent in a genuine way. Diablo's script did and that is what made it so cool.
WCT: The teacher scene, where he treats her son the right way, was very effective.
JR: Absolutely, and so much of this movie is about finding out everything is going to be okay. That is Tully's presence. Tully is there to let Marlo know that she is doing a good job and to not feel ashamed of who she is, that she shouldn't feel embarrassed about being older, lamer and calmer.
We are told as parents to get our kid into an expensive private school but when they go to a cheaper school the first person they encounter is a really cool teacher.
WCT: Talk about the lesbian part in the film.
JR: Sexuality in the film is very fluid. She was dating this woman Violet when she was in her 20s. She ends up marrying her husband played by Ron Livingston. Much like the rest of everything Diablo writes there is not a lot of labeling. We don't talk about what's happening in Marlo's life or her sexuality except for the fact that she had a meaningful relationship with a woman in her past.
I love Diablo for that. She doesn't go through and explain too much. Marlo is a complex human being. In that relationship with Violet, it represents when she was free and spontaneous when she was younger.
I think we all have to go through this moment as we get older when our younger self almost seems like a different human being. You have to reckon with the fact that you are not judging each other.
WCT: Are you worried about spoilers with the big twist of Tully?
JR: Yeah. I think the joy of this movie is getting to the end and realizing you are watching two movies at once. It is constructed that way. When you watch it a second time, you realize that so much work was done into the duality of the film. I want people to enjoy that.
Someone ruined Fight Club for me once, and I will never forget that!
WCT: Everyone is talking about Charlize's weight gain of almost 50 pounds.
JR: Charlize wants to find truth, and that's it. She read the script and knew immediately how to play this role. I think the biggest annoyance to her was that she had just done Atomic Blonde and was in the best shape of her life. She had to eat cheeseburgers and drink milkshakes, and give it all up.
It created a sense of disassociation with her own body. I think that's a real thing. It messed with her chemistry. She was putting sugar and crap into her system. I think that gave her periods of depression that she hadn't experienced before.
WCT: Did you know Ellen Page was going to come out after working with her in Juno?
JR: I knew she was gay. I didn't know how or when she would come out. I was moved to tears by her speech and immediately reached out to her after. It was just strong and beautiful. It carried all the grace, humor, and strength that she does in everything else she does. It was inspiring.
WCT: Did you know Anna Kendrick was going to explode with fame after directing her in Up in the Air?
JR: That was one of those roles on camera that we all knew, but she only shows up after one third of the movie. I remember the first table read of Up in the Air when Anna piped up and was poking at George Clooney. He looked at me like he realized she was going to leap right out of this movie. That was confirmation and not a surprise.
WCT: You have a new movie called The Front Runner coming up, with Hugh Jackman.
JR: Yes. I am really excited to be back in the political arena. Hugh is an angel of a human being and I brilliant actor. I think this is one of the best roles he has ever done.
WCT: You have been surrounded by talented singers. Would you ever do a musical?
JR: [Laughs] I don't get musicals, but I love putting music into my films. People play music in my films and soundtracks are important to me. There is a lot of music in Tully. I don't think I will ever direct a musical.
Hugh and I had this conversation, because he can't believe that I don't get it!