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.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I was just about to say — that’s what surprising about your performance in Juno, Jason. You’re reined in. Your character’s a serious guy.
JASON BATEMAN: It came from reading the script. There’s so much style to the dialogue, I just thought probably the most invisible I can get as an actor, the better. Because I just know from going to watch movies myself — you know, it’s like putting an outfit together. If you want the shirt to pop, you have to dress down the pants. And you can’t wear a really funky pair of shoes.
JENNIFER GARNER: You can’t do a strong eye and a strong lip. You gotta do a nudie kind of look if you’re gonna do a heavy eye.
BATEMAN: [To EW] You see? You probably understand that analogy a little better, hearing about your weekend, the way you like to get yourself all dolled up. So I just tried to do my part, which was to try to do nothing.
Jennifer, what about you? You’ve got a few killer scenes in this movie. People are gonna cry.
GARNER: [To EW] Did you tear up?
You know, uh —
BATEMAN: Do not say yes.
Definitely not. [To Garner] But your character has a great arc. How hard was the part?
GARNER: There’s somebody I was basing it on who maybe came across as cold or controlling, but was really just trying so hard to do the right thing. What happens in this movie forces the character to open up bit by bit. I think she just wants this baby, and she thinks the way to go about it is to be as appealingly Leave It to Beaver as possible. And she just forgets to add the human being in there.
Will you guys work again?
BATEMAN: Never! [Pauses] Oh, you mean together?
GARNER: I would love to work with Jason Reitman again. [To Bateman] We’re over and out on this one.
BATEMAN: That’s true. But things do happen in threes. So … maybe a rom-com?
GARNER: 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.
BATEMAN: Yeah, we’ve done two films, and there’s no mashing in either of them. [To EW] Tell me if it looks real for us to kiss! [Gets up and jokingly lunges toward Garner]
GARNER: Seriously? I hope we get to work again. I’m just going to put it out there.
BATEMAN: She’s the one that’s got all the scripts and all the power in Hollywood, so when she sends me something, then it’ll be a reality. To your readers, if they want to see it happen, tell them to pressure her.
What are you going to do next?
BATEMAN: I’m glad you asked. Upcoming for me, is — I dunno. I’m just going to try to stay employed. That’s the tough part in this business.
You’re doing well lately.
BATEMAN: Well, all right. But you’ve got to keep that rolling. Keep thinking ahead, do smart things like theater in New York to keep up the old cred or cachet. [Gestures to Garner] She’s not stupid.
Are you guys friends for life now? You hang out, do day-care together … ?
GARNER: I don’t have his e-mail, I don’t have his phone number. [To Bateman] I could not get a hold of you if I wanted to.
BATEMAN: I had to call three publicists — my publicist called your publicist who probably contacted your agent who probably contacted your assistant to find out if you were bringing [your daughter] Violet on The Kingdom trip to Europe.
GARNER: Oh, are you going to that? I thought you weren’t going to that.
BATEMAN: I’m going. But no kids, right?
GARNER: No. No. No. I wouldn’t do that to her.
BATEMAN: I don’t think [Jamie] Foxx is going. We got an extra seat. [To EW] Wanna go to Europe?