Jason Reitman Biography

Jason Reitman Biography on Monsters and Critics


"Jason Reitman" (born October 19, 1977) is a Canadian-born film director, screenwriter, producer and actor, best known for directing the films "Thank You for Smoking" (2006), "Juno" (2007), and "Up in the Air" (2009).

Early life

Reitman was born in Montreal, Quebec, the first of three children of comedy director Ivan Reitman and French-Canadian actress Geneviève Robert, sometimes billed as Geneviève Deloir. He has two younger sisters, Catherine and Caroline. His father, Ivan, directed the successful films "Ghostbusters", "Stripes", and "Kindergarten Cop". 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. 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.

Reitman graduated from the Harvard-Westlake School in 1995 and majored in English/Creative Writing at University of Southern California.

Film career

Reitman at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival

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 movie was a commercial 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 favourite 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 honoured with the 'Cinema for Peace Award 2008 for Most Valuable Work of Director, Producers & Screenwriter'. The film thus far has 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 movie, 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, and they have several projects in the works. The company has an overall deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures, the company that distributed Reitman's first two films. Reitman describes 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", a horror comedy, was written by Diablo Cody and starred Megan Fox. It revolved around a cheerleader who is possessed by a demon and starts feeding off the boys in a Minnesota farming town.

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. Reitman's "Up in the Air" screenplay won the Golden Globe Award for best screenplay in 2010.


Though Reitman has claimed in interviews that he wrote the script under specific circumstances, a "Los Angeles Times" article states otherwise. One things Reitman asserts is that he wrote specific roles for certain actors. This is curious in that many different actors met Reitman for roles that eventually were cast with Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick - but only after the fact.

Other work

Reitman at the

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 3" and cast Howard, he said 'do you know how many times I get asked if I want to do "Ghostbusters 3"? 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).

Personal life

In 2004, he married writer Michele Lee, with whom he co-wrote the 2004 comedic short 'Consent.' The two had their first child in 2006.

External links

(Jason Reitman) at MySpace

(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

(Jason Reitman's Guest DJ Set on KCRW - KCRW Guest DJ Set)


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Jason Reitman.