For filmmaker Jason Reitman, premiering a movie is always an anxious moment. There’s no doubt he felt it with his debut feature Thank You for Smoking. And most certainly, he experienced the sensation when the world witnessed his Oscar-nominated hit Juno.
“The moment the movie stops being yours and starts belonging to the audience is always interesting,” said the Canadian-born filmmaker during a recent interview.
“There are always things that you had no idea were funny and there’s things that you thought were hilarious but apparently are not.”
Lucky for Reitman, the audience is on his side and his latest film, Up in the Air starring George Clooney has been amassing great laughs in all the right places.
Based on the quirky book by Walter Kirn (Thumbsucker), Clooney plays a nomadic downsizing expert whose livelihood on the road is threatened by his own corporation’s cutbacks just as he is about to reach unparalleled frequent flyer status.
“I hadn’t made a movie yet and no one wanted Thank You for Smoking so I thought I’d better find something else,” said Reitman of the film’s conception. “The book is basically about a guy who fires people for a living and collects air miles. I kind of loved the philosophy of the book and went from there.”
But what actually followed were six long years of juggling the screenplay with the eventual making of Smoking, Juno and producing such films as Jennifer’s Body — a series of undoubtedly valuable experiences that all but influenced Up in the Air’s final script.
“I grew as a filmmaker obviously,” explained Reitman. “But more importantly, becoming a father and a husband and starting to realize what’s important in life really set the tone and plot of the script.”
What also set the tone was landing the actor Reitman always had in mind for the main role —Clooney.
“I obviously thought this guy’s perfect for the role but nowhere in my head did I think that he would (do it),” said Reitman.
“When he read it and said ‘yes,’ it was a nice moment … it’s amazing how quickly he puts you at ease.”