Exclusive: Diablo Cody's candid take on her new film 'Ricki and the Flash'
Screenwriter Diablo Cody is one of the hottest and freshest talents in the film industry today. In 2007, she became known across the world as the writer of the break-out hit "Juno." She went on the win an Oscar for this amazing film and now she is back with a new film titled "Ricki and the Flash." In this exclusive interview Diablo Cody talks about her new film, working with Meryl Streep, director Jonathan Demme, Kevin Kline and Rick Springfield and how her own personal journey inspired this "rockus" film.
"Ricki and the Flash" is a family drama/comedy about forgiveness and rock and roll. It's about a woman named Ricki who aspired to be a rock star her entire life and it didn't go well for her and now she has to deal with the fact that she made a lot of personal choices to pursue a dream that never came true.
The idea for "Ricki and the Flash" came out of Diablo's own uncertainty after having children of her own, "I had a couple of kids in the last few of years and I was starting to feel some anxiety about my career. I was wondering if it was worth it for me to continue making movies, if it takes me away from being with my kids. And how are they going to look back on my accomplishments when they are adults? Are they going to care, or feel like they were shafted? Are they going to be resentful that I was career minded or are they going to be proud?"
Cody compared her plight to her male counterparts, "You know you are a high-strung person when you are worried about things that will happen in 20 years. This is not something that men traditionally have to worry about, it's just a given that a man is going to provide for his kids. It's not seen as a selfish decision, it's actually seen as their duty. So, it is complicated for me. I do feel selfish as a screenwriter and producer, and I don't know any male writers that feel the same way as I do."
Cody continued, "With 'Ricki and the Flash' I was thinking what is the worst case scenario here. Let's say I didn't succeed in my career and my children also resented me just for trying."
Diablo Cody's first choice to play Ricki was the incredible Meryl Streep. Cody also worked as a producer on the film and scheduled a dinner in hopes that Streep would take the role, "Obviously she had been the first choice for the role, as she would be for any writer, and I had always fantasized about working with her, but I didn't know if that would actually happen. During a dinner meeting she began talking about scheduling and logistics for herself and I realized that she was going to it. It was really difficult to keep it together. I wanted to have that moment of celebration, as if I had heard it from anyone but her, but because it was her I really had to play it cool. I was just so thrilled. And it continues to be a dream for me, just to be able to watch the performance that she delivered in the film, I thought - how lucky am I?"
When Meryl Streep played music teacher Roberto Guaspari in the inspirational film "Music of the Heart," she stunned moviegoers when it was released that she learned the violin for the role. So, it was not a surprise that she took on the guitar for "Ricki and the Flash."
"She did learn to play the guitar," said Cody "She spent about two months and took intensive guitar lessons. She practiced day and night and she really did learn to play the guitar. Every note and chord she plays in the movie is real and was recorded live as she did it. Absolutely no movie magic was involved with the music in this film."
According to Cody the casting of Rick Springfield was a surprise, "I thought we would get some veteran actor that could play guitar. When Jonathan Demme came on to direct, he said 'No way, I want a real musician in this movie that knows what they are doing. I am going to find an actual musician that can act.' He found Rick Springfield and he came in and just killed it!"
Many film lovers know that Meryl Streep's love interest in her Oscar-winning film "Sophie's Choice" was the incredible actor Kevin Kline. In "Ricki and the Flash, " he returns to work with Streep again. According to Cody, "There is something really valuable in having two actors that have known each other for such a long time. They definitely have a rapport and a chemistry and they were used to working together."
Cody happily remarked about her collaboration with Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme, "The creative connection that Jonathan and I made on the set was just amazing. I had such an incredible time watching him work. He is such a legend and he is so generous and loving and wanted me there every day. He asked me lots of questions and was extremely protective of the script in a way that I don't think I have ever witnessed with a director. It was really important to him to preserve everything that I had written and to not to mess with that vision. It was a really good experience for me. I know a lot of screenwriters and some of them are not even allowed on their own set. There is a strange disregard in Hollywood for the people who actually create the material. It's so weird to me. Writers are at the bottom of the totem pole. So, I feel if you can work with a director that is actually respects your contribution that's great."
Cody described her feelings once the film was completed, "The film is everything I thought it could be. I am really happy and proud and I don't always feel that way. I am usually kind of melancholy going into the release of a movie, honestly, because I am usually totally dissatisfied with something. There is always some aspect that I am not happy with. In this case, I am completely proud of it and this is an alien feeling for me."
There is a lot of talk lately about Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie. She also stars in "Ricki and the Flash" and Cody has only great things to say about this second generation actor, "I think Mamie is going to blow people away in this role. She is really talented and she has her own thing that she does. I think it has got to be exceptionally challenging to do what she does when her mom is considered to be the greatest living actress. As advantageous as that could be, there are also are plenty of disadvantages. She is really electric in this movie. She has her own presence that is very undeniable. I think she is going to go on to have a very fascinating and varied career."
There are many young filmmakers that would like to have the career that Diablo Cody has been able to create for herself, her advice to these budding filmmakers is quite different from the route she took, "There has been a huge shift in just the last 10 years since I have been in the business. Young writers and directors have access to technology that is unfathomable to me. There is a movie out right now, named 'Tangerine,' that was completely shot on an iPhone and it's getting raves. To me, that is a game changer. That you can write scripts and shoot your own movie and share them with the world without having to deal with a distributor or needing millions of dollars. It's possible now to get your art out in the world and there are very few gatekeepers.
"I am always telling people take advantage of the opportunities that you have right in front of you right now. Instead of waiting around for someone to read your script, go shoot it! It's the way to do it and it has never been easier. Instead of fixating on what you don't have, think about what you can make happen."
Diablo's next event is a very personal one as she is expecting her third child in just about five weeks from now. She's eager to have some time to spend with her new baby and her growing family.
But even so, Diablo has work on her mind. Her next movie is a film simply titled "Barbie," saying "I feel like Barbie is misunderstood."
And as far as those far reaching goals, the next actress that Diablo Cody is eager to work with is Jennifer Lawrence. She calls her the golden girl and I can only think - what an incredible team they would make!
"Ricki and the Flash" is rated PG-13 for thematic material, brief drug content, sexuality and language and has a run-time of 101 minutes.