"The genesis of the script came from days much like today when I was talking to journalists and they would ask me why I was obsessed with writing about teenagers," Cody explained. "I had to think about it. Because I wasn't sure myself. And I started to go to a dark place and I thought, 'What if I'm actually just living vicariously through these characters and I'm just a stunted adult who's immature and who hasn't progressed passed an adolescent stage of life?'"
That actress, of course, turned out to be the immeasurably talented Charlize Theron. The part might seem tailor-made for Theron, but Cody didn't write the character with her in mind. "Weirdly enough, I have this superstition when it comes to picturing actors in roles, which is I don't," Cody said. "I feel like there is some statistic where only one in 25 scripts that get bought even get produced, so when I'm writing I never presume that I'm writing something for the screen."
We also wondered what relationship her long-in-the-works script for the "Sweet Valley High" movie had with "Young Adult," since Theron plays a young adult writer of some very "Sweet Valley High"-ish books called "Waverly Prep." It turns out there is a direct link. "It inspired the script in a way because I was rereading the 'Sweet Valley High' books for that project," Cody said. "And I started to wonder about the women who wrote the books because their names don't really appear on the cover – the creator of 'Sweet Valley High' appears on the cover. And what their lives must be like – women in their twenties and thirties writing about the prom, which was not unlike my life." Cody then made the connection explicit: "In a weird way the two projects are inexorably linked, especially since the books Mavis writes are called 'Waverly Prep,' so there's no question I was thinking of one with the other and vice versa." This makes us wonder if there are characters in her "Sweet Valley High" script that guzzle 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke, drink too much, and sleep around? With a hard R rating in the works, we wouldn't be surprised.
Cody still loses sleep about whether or not audiences are going to accept Theron's sour, sometimes off-putting character. "I have been anxious about this for weeks, months," Cody confesses, somewhat surprisingly. "Because it's definitely not what people are expecting from me and Jason. On one hand this could be a good thing because I like doing something new and proving people wrong and presenting something unexpected. But on the other hand, if you're used to seeing a certain kind of Hollywood film with a certain type of pay off, you're not going to get it here."
"It's funny – I've asked everyone I know who directs," Cody says. They give her something to avoid. "Everybody says there are mistakes you make on your first film that you would never make again. The goal is to figure out what those mistakes are before you make your first film. But I think that's impossible – I'm going to make them."
And while Diablo Cody may seem to have forged the perfect Hollywood career for herself, expertly mixing big money jobs (like her polish of Sam Raimi's upcoming "Evil Dead" remake) with more personal, creatively fulfilling fare, she still has her detractors. A recent Bobcat Goldthwait movie took jabs at her, and from what we understand the character played by Olivia Wilde in the new comedy "Butter" is at least partially based on Cody, something that she had never heard before. "Olivia Wilde? That's a compliment. I hadn't heard that. I'm excited to see 'Butter.' That's really interesting," Cody said, seeming genuinely surprised and excited. As we were leaving she added, "You completely just blew my mind. I think I'm relieved."
It'll be Diablo Cody (and Jason Reitman) who will be blowing people's minds when the devilishly dark "Young Adult" opens in limited release this week and wide on December 16th.