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Diablo Cody’s “Body” Language

Diablo Cody’s “Body” Language (photo)

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Nobody, not even Diablo Cody (née Brook Busey) herself, could have predicted that this former blogger with a short-lived stripping hobby (the basis for her 2006 memoir “Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper”) would end up winning an Academy Award for her very first screenplay, 2007’s “Juno.” Known for her snappy dialogue and pop-cultural quips (i.e. “That ain’t no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, Homeskillet.”), Cody has become one of the most recognizable screenwriters working today, in part because of her colorful past and spunky personality. Expanding into television, she’s already at work on a second season of Showtime’s “United States of Tara,” a dramedy series she developed with Steven Spielberg.

Opening this weekend is Cody’s second feature as screenwriter, “Jennifer’s Body.” What’s perhaps most surprising is that she’s getting more above-the-title attention than either the film’s director, Karyn Kusama (“Girlfight”) or rising starlet Megan Fox. A sexed-up horror comedy set to an indie-meets-emo soundtrack, “Jennifer’s Body” stars Fox as the titular villainess, a cheer squad vamp who becomes possessed by demons and begins murdering boys. While attending the Toronto Film Festival for the world premiere of the film, Cody called me to discuss comic books, feeling old, craving privacy and some of the criticisms about her screenwriting.

“Jennifer’s Body” has been called a horror throwback, but at the very least, would you admit to taking inspiration from “Heathers” or “Ginger Snaps”?

I will definitely cop to taking inspiration from “Heathers,” for sure. I always say “Heathers” doesn’t just inspire the things that I write; it inspires the way I talk to people. It inspired my life philosophy. I’m deeply obsessed with that film. I think Karyn, the director, wanted the movie to have a really vintage feel, and be reminiscent of the movies we grew up watching. I love modern horror movies, but a lot of them look a little flat, computerized and cold, just because we have all these wonderful high-tech tools now. I miss real buckets of blood, things flying around, practical effects and warm color palettes, and we wanted to get back to that.

Is the graphic novelization of “Jennifer’s Body” any different from your screenplay, and are you a comic book nerd yourself?

I love comics. I met Stan Lee recently and it was one of the defining moments of my year. I was very, very excited about the graphic novel, and I love the cover by Frank Cho. Getting to see something that I had written being rendered in that medium was a thrill.

So what do you like in modern comics? I feel they’re still geared mainly to the drooling fan-boys.

Yes, of course they are. [laughs] But I’m doing my best to infiltrate. I hope I’m doing the same thing with cinema, I don’t know. I like all the old Marvel titles, “X-Men,” “Excalibur,” “X-Factor,” “New Mutants” — I’m obviously a big “X”-fan. In terms of modern stuff, now that I’m old, I do more graphic novels like “Black Hole,” that kind of stuff.

09162009_JennifersBody2.jpgYou feel old at 31?

I know I’m not old, but I definitely feel old compared to some of these young whippersnappers who have been running around doing the junket with me. I feel like the mother hen.

When you’re writing comedy, does character come before jokes?

Yeah, always. For me, it starts with scene. I think about certain scenes that would be impactful or that I would like to see. Then I start to create the characters, and your final touch is your dialogue polish when you write your silly little quippy-quips.

Juno’s friend said “Honest to blog,” and Jennifer says, “Hello Titty.” These characters exist in different film universes, and yet they both speak in the same pop-cultural voice that you do. Could that be seen as a limitation of your screenwriting?

Big time. Absolutely.

And you don’t worry that some of your references will be outdated in the long view?

No. I like when I watch an old movie and they make a reference to something random. Like, when you’re watching “Sixteen Candles,” and they talk about her dream gift is a pink Trans-Am. It puts the movie in a specific place, and it’s kind of beautiful.

Would you ever write something that didn’t have these allusions?

Yeah, I already have. I wrote a script recently that’s interesting because the characters are pretty quiet. [laughs] They don’t do a lot of talking in general, and they certainly don’t employ the stereotypical Diablo Cody patois. I have no idea if it’s good, but it was fun to write.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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