Running with Diablo

Hollywood's hottest screenwriter talks about the price of fame, life in the film biz, and her early days at City Pages

CP: Has there been a downside to so much success so soon?

Cody: Yeah, I mean there's a lot of pressure. I suffer from feelings of unworthiness on a daily basis. I think of myself as a novice writer, and I am. I have so much to learn.

You always wish for this kind of recognition, but you don't expect it to be hurled at you at warp 10, which is what has happened to me. And I hope I can fully appreciate it.

Diablo Cody
Nick Vlcek
Diablo Cody

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Want more? See our slideshow gallery with photos (and notes from the shoot!) by Nick Vlcek. Also, hear an excerpt from Matthew Smith's interview with Diablo, as she reflects on her time at City Pages, here (MP3).

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And you have to wonder where you can go from here. I just want to be a working writer. That is my aim. I just want to be able to write more movies. Maybe write another book. These are things I want to do. I certainly don't have a need for this kind of recognition. It's quite intense.

The publicity demands have been insane. The one probably biggest misconception about me is that I'm out there courting publicity. I've never solicited an interview in my entire life. People want to talk to me. When I went on Letterman, people on the internet were snarking, "Oh, she must have a hell of a publicist." I didn't have one. I went on that show because Dave Letterman read my book and liked it. And I know that seems so improbable that a first-time writer would just randomly wind up on Letterman, but that's what happened to me. And that's how my life works, for some reason.

I want people to realize that I am not a media whore. But I desperately want to support this film, and if the studio is asking me to do these things, I'm going to do it.

CP: Has a screenwriter ever had this much attention?

Cody: I can't think of one. I have that whole ridiculously cheesy stripping back story and a fun name that I chose by accident, that I never dreamed was going to haunt me. It was completely random. It was just an internet pseudonym. And I wound up using it for the book because I wanted people who had read my blog to recognize me when they went to the bookstore. But then the name followed me from the book to the screenplay, and now I have to live with the name, which I chose in 30 seconds with no thought about how it might sound or what it might imply. It was just a funny thing.

The entire package is really vulgar and goofy, but people like it, so you get a lot of ink. Which is fine. And if people are rude and sarcastic, I completely understand. Because God knows I would tear myself to pieces were I someone else. I am the princess of snark.

CP: What's the worst thing you've heard anybody say about you?

Cody: Oh, let's see. You know what, it bothered me because it was so out of left field, and it was such a random assumption. Somebody said, "She stepped on so many people to get where she is." I think they must have imagined some kind of soap operatic scenario in their mind, because I don't even know who they could be referring to.

I've done this entire thing on my own, and I still have all the same friends. So I don't know who I stepped on, but I'm dying to know. And that's frustrating to me. Because I do think, although I can be self-centered, I am at my core a nice person. I definitely don't have a reputation in Hollywood or elsewhere for being an asshole. So it hurts when somebody jumps to that conclusion.

And it also bothers me when—this is a real paradox for me: My entire life I've been told I wasn't pretty enough. My entire life I was told by people that I was ugly, that I was too tall, that I was flat-chested, that I was this, that I was that. When I was a stripper I was never quite pretty enough. I was never one of the beautiful girls. I was never one of the top earners. Suddenly I achieve something in my life that is purely intellectual and purely creative, and I'm being told that it's because I'm pretty. To me that is the weirdest, most ironic thing ever. Like all of a sudden I'm attractive when it suits people's purposes. But in the past when I needed to be attractive I was ugly. So let's pick. Which is it?

CP: We were talking about all of the ink you've gotten recently. Up to now you've been pretty open on your blogs—

Cody: Yeah, too open, in my opinion.

CP: Are you going to scale that back a little bit?

Cody: I have to. I'm dealing with too many people who don't want me exposed. It's unfortunate, but now I don't want to expose too many details in my life. I'm very candid. I couldn't care less about what people think about me, but I don't want other people to be dragged into the shit storm that is my life. I'm thinking about their privacy, not mine. I don't need privacy.

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