Reitman at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival
October 19, 1977 |
Montréal, Québec, Canada
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, film producer|
|Spouse(s)||Michele Lee (2004-2014);
|Relatives||Catherine Reitman (sister)|
Jason Reitman (born October 19, 1977) is a Canadian-American film director, screenwriter, and producer, best known for directing the films Thank You for Smoking (2005), Juno (2007), Up in the Air (2009), and Young Adult (2011). As of February 2, 2010, he has received four Academy Award nominations, two of which are for Best Director. Reitman is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. He is the son of director Ivan Reitman.
Reitman was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the son of Geneviève Robert, an actress sometimes billed as Geneviève Deloir, and comedy director Ivan Reitman. Reitman has two younger sisters, Catherine, an actress who is three years younger than him, and Caroline, a nurse who is 12 years younger than he.
His father, Ivan, directed the successful films Ghostbusters, Stripes, and Kindergarten Cop. Reitman said he has photos of himself as a baby on the set of Animal House. He grew up on set: "If it was the summer he was [on set] every day. If it was during the school year, like Ghostbusters." Reitman said, "he would go to New York and spend a week there." This showed him that making movies is "a job that people do, that it's not just this piece of magic that happens."
Jason described his childhood self as "a loser... a movie geek... [and] shy." In the late 1980s, Reitman began appearing in small acting parts and serving as a production assistant on his father's films. He spent time in the editing rooms of his father's movies, learning the process.
Reitman attended Skidmore College and was going to major in pre-med studies before transferring to the University of Southern California to major in English/Creative Writing. At USC he performed with improv group Commedus Interruptus.
On his father's career and legacy and not worrying about box office success: "Being the son of a director who was so successful... I knew moment one going into this job I would never have success like my father." Reitman said he was more focused on acceptance, that his concern very early on was that people might presume he had nothing to offer, that he'd be perceived as the spoiled son of a famous director. Reitman said he was very aware of "growing up really really lucky. Lucky on every front. Not only were my parents successful and not only were they artists and not only did I grew up in a beautiful home, that I grew up also in a family that stayed together in a city where families never stay together. My parents were both kind of thoughtful to their approach of parenting me, really cared about my happiness and were involved in my life. I have been lucky my entire life."
Reitman started out making short films during his time at USC. Throughout his 20s, instead of accepting offers to make commercial feature films, Reitman began making his own short films and directing commercials. Although he was offered the opportunity to direct Dude, Where's My Car? on two separate occasions, he declined.
In 2005, Reitman's first feature film Thank You for Smoking opened. Reitman developed the Christopher Buckley novel into a screenplay and, eventually, a film. The film was a commercial and critical success. It grossed over $39 million worldwide by the end of its run, and was nominated for two Golden Globes. After the success of Thank You for Smoking, Reitman mentioned in an interview that his next film would be adapting another book (a "white collar satire") into a film. He also mentioned that he had plans to work with Buckley again on an original project. Although the first of these projects would eventually become Up in the Air, this second project has not come to fruition.
His second film, Juno, generated great buzz after it premiered at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival and was released in December 2007. It received tremendous critical acclaim (it was Roger Ebert's favorite film of 2007) and received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Ellen Page's performance as the title character, Diablo Cody's original screenplay, and Reitman himself for Best Director. Reitman did win other awards for his work on Juno, including Best Director at the 2008 Canadian Comedy Awards; he was also honored with the "Cinema for Peace Award 2008 for Most Valuable Work of Director, Producers & Screenwriter". The film grossed over $140 million at the U.S. box office, making it the largest success of Reitman's career and more successful than any of his father's films since Kindergarten Cop. Brad Silberling was originally attached to direct the film, but he dropped out over casting differences. Reitman was in the middle of writing a screenplay when he came on board to direct Juno and, at one point, he expressed intent to finish writing and to direct this screenplay.
In March 2006, Reitman formed the production company "Hard C Productions" with producing partner Daniel Dubiecki. The company had an overall deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures, the company that distributed Reitman's first two films. Reitman described his production company's goal as being to produce "small subversive comedy that is independent but accessible". Reitman states that he and Dubiecki "want to make unusual films, and anything that turns a genre on its ear". Through Hard C Productions, Reitman is set to produce and direct Banzai Shadowhands, a comedy about "a once-great ninja who is now living a life of mediocrity". Shadowhands will be written by The Office's Rainn Wilson. Reitman met Wilson on the set of his father's film My Super Ex-Girlfriend, in which Wilson had a supporting role. No start date for filming has been set, and it is unclear as to whether or not Wilson is finished with the script.
Hard C Productions produced films The Ornate Anatomy of Living Things and Jennifer's Body. Anatomy has been written by Matthew Spicer and Max Winkler, and will revolve around "a Gotham bookstore clerk who discovers a museum devoted to his life". Jennifer's Body is a horror comedy written by Diablo Cody and starring Megan Fox, about a cheerleader who is possessed by a demon and starts feeding off the boys in a Minnesota farming town. In 2009, Reitman left Hard C to form Right of Way Films.
In 2001, the year the novel Up in the Air was published, Sheldon Turner discovered the book and wrote a screenplay adaptation, which he sold to DreamWorks in 2003. Jason Reitman later came upon the novel (initially attracted by the Christopher Buckley blurb on the cover) while browsing in the Los Angeles bookstore Book Soup. Reitman persuaded his father Ivan Reitman to purchase the book's film rights, and the elder Reitman commissioned a screenplay from Ted and Nicholas Griffin, who used some elements from Turner's script in their own work. Jason Reitman then developed his own screenplay, incorporating some of the elements from the Griffins' script that had (unbeknownst to Reitman) originated with Turner. Some of Turner's inventions that were utilized in the final film include Ryan's boilerplate termination speech ("Anyone who ever built an empire or changed the world sat where you're sitting right now..."), a key plot point involving a suicide, and the character of Ryan's partner (written by Turner as male).
Reitman initially attempted to claim sole credit for writing the film, and later admitted to being confused when the Writers Guild of America ruled that he should share credit with Turner. He and Turner later appeared at a WGA event where both said they were happy to share credit now that the course of events, and Turner's contribution to the final product, had been made clear.
In the spring of 2009, Reitman directed Up in the Air starring George Clooney. Up in the Air is based on a novel written by Walter Kirn about a corporate downsizer who travels from city to city and is fanatical about collecting his ten millionth frequent flier mile. The film features real-world characters cast from the ranks of the recently downsized. "Hidden within a film that seems to be about corporate termination and the economy is a movie about the decision whether to be alone or not," noted Reitman," in an interview conducted just prior to the film's nationwide release. Sheldon Turner and Reitman's Up in the Air screenplay won the Golden Globe Award for best screenplay in 2010.
Reitman also executively produced the erotic thriller Chloe, theatrically released by Sony Pictures Classics on March 26, 2010. Reitman helped persuade Amanda Seyfried to star in the film. The film had enjoyed commercial success and became director Atom Egoyan's biggest moneymaker ever.
Before his feature film career began, Jason Reitman wrote and directed six short films. He financed his first short film, "Operation", with money he made by selling ads in desk calendars. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998.
He was a guest on The Howard Stern Show on April 10, 2008; when he was asked if he would direct Ghostbusters III and cast Howard, he said "Do you know how many times I get asked if I want to do Ghostbusters III? Looking at my career so far, I mean, if you just looked at my two films, I would make the most boring Ghostbusters movie. It would just be people talking about ghosts, there wouldn't be any ghost-busting in it." Stern, a friend of Ivan Reitman, also revealed that he had seen Jason's early short films and was impressed enough to offer him the opportunity to direct an episode of Son of the Beach (a TV series he produced, a goofy parody of Baywatch), which Jason declined, citing that he was busy obtaining financing for Thank You for Smoking at the time.
Reitman produced and directed the 2007 holiday season commercials for Wal-Mart with advertising agency Bernstein-Rein. He has also directed ads for Burger King, Nintendo, BMW, and Buick. In television, Reitman directed two episodes of The Office entitled "Local Ad" and "Frame Toby". Reitman also directed a three-part pretaped sketch for the NBC show Saturday Night Live called "Death By Chocolate," about a walking candy bar (played by episode host Ashton Kutcher) who murders people (stabbing a homeless man, shooting a doctor, cutting off a life support machine on a coma victim, and slicing Andy Samberg [dressed as a lumberjack] with a chainsaw).
When Reitman was 16 and still in high school he moved in with a woman 10 years his senior. They were together for 7 years until they separated.
In 2000, when he was 23, Reitman met and fell in love with his next door neighbor, eventually marrying writer Michele Lee, with whom he co-wrote the 2004 comedic short "Consent." They have one child, a daughter named Josie, born in 2006. After being together 10 years, Reitman filed for divorce from his wife in June 2011 and stated he was divorced as of 2014.
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- Biography for Michele Lee at the Internet Movie Database
- Consent at the Internet Movie Database
- Steinman, Alex (June 22, 2011). "'Up in the Air' director Jason Reitman files for divorce from wife Michele Lee". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jason Reitman.|
- Jason Reitman at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview with Jason Reitman about JUNO at the Telluride Film Festival, September 10, 2007
- EyeForFilm.co.uk - interview with Jason Reitman about Thank You For Smoking and Juno
- Ubben Lecture at DePauw University; March 15, 2010 (includes video clips)
- Jason Reitman's Guest DJ Set on KCRW