Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures

13 Phenomenal Facts About Juno

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Made for only $6.5 million, Juno defied expectations when it grossed $231 million worldwide and earned four Oscar nominations, including a nod for Best Picture. (It was the first Fox Searchlight film to surpass $100 million at the box office.) Jason Reitman directed Ellen Page as the titular teenager who gets impregnated by her friend, Paulie (Michael Cera). She decides to carry the baby to full term and then adopt it to married couple Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner).

Diablo Cody, a one-time stripper who wrote the 2005 book Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, wrote the screenplay (her first) and won the 2008 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The film became a pop culture phenomenon, largely because of its strong cast, witty dialogue, catchy soundtrack, and how it depicted teen pregnancy as something positive instead of life-destroying. Here are 13 facts about the hit indie dramedy, which hit theaters 10 years ago today.

1. THE SCRIPT WAS "DEEPLY PERSONAL" FOR DIABLO CODY.

The scribe based the story on her own life and wanted to tell a story that was “different” from the rest of Hollywood movies. “Juno is like a personal, emotional scavenger hunt for me," Cody told The Telegraph. "I dragged so many of my own experiences into it that I'm shocked the movie is so coherent. I managed to get every person, quirk, and object that has meaning in my life into the script. I wanted to make it deeply personal. I didn't want it to be generic."

2. MICHAEL CERA LIKED THE FORMAT OF THE SCRIPT.

In an interview with Collider, Michael Cera said that one reason he wanted to star in the movie was because the script was written like a book. “I remember certain paragraphs were just broken up oddly and that kind of … I was like, oh, it’s not like reading a script,” he said. “It’s more like a book. That kind of made me want to do the movie. I thought, well, if it’s written oddly, if it’s not written like a script, then it’s got to be a good movie.”

3. ELLEN PAGE DOESN’T CONSIDER IT A PRO-LIFE MOVIE.


Fox Searchlight Pictures

The film takes an apolitical stance on teen pregnancy, but Page gets upset when “people call it a pro-life movie,” she told the Toronto Star. “In other words, that it’s anti-abortion,” she said. “That’s just not true. To me, it’s not a political film. I never thought about that when we were making it. Sometimes I even forget she’s pregnant. The most important thing is the choice is there and the film completely demonstrates that. It allows a scene in an abortion clinic, for goodness sake. A lot of films probably wouldn’t do that.”

At a live reading of the movie earlier this year, Cody told Vanity Fair that it “disturbed” her how people considered Juno to be “an anti-choice movie. In a way, I feel like I had a responsibility to maybe be more explicitly pro-choice, and I wasn’t … I think I took the right to choose for granted at the time."

4. ALLISON JANNEY APPRECIATED THE NON-STEREOTYPICAL STEPMOTHER ROLE.

The actress plays Juno’s stepmother, Bren, who surprisingly supports her stepdaughter’s pregnancy and then forms a relationship with her. “I kept waiting for the Evil Stepmother to make it hard for Juno, and then she didn't,” Janney said. “Diablo herself was a stepmother, too, and I think she wanted to debunk the Evil Stepmother myth and take that in a whole new direction.” Janney references Juno’s ultrasound scene, when Bren becomes protective of her daughter. “There's something wonderful about Diablo; she does not seem to judge any of her characters. And then the one woman who crosses a line is the one I get to tear into, which is always fun to do as an actor.”

5. THE “JUNO EFFECT” MAY OR MAY NOT BE REAL.

Around the time the movie was released, Gloucester High School in Massachusetts noticed an increase in teen pregnancies. The school’s principal, Dr. Joseph Sullivan, told TIME several young women “made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.” The media dubbed it “The Juno Effect.” In 2008, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told Entertainment Weekly the teen birthrate was increasing. However, since then, teen pregnancies have been on the decline.

6. JUNO IS SORT OF AN ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT REUNION.


Fox Searchlight Pictures

Cera and Bateman played father-son on Arrested Development. In the movie they do not share any scenes together, but Bateman joked to MTV that it would’ve been strange “if I were adopting my son’s child ... At one point we were joking that Michael would walk by in the background of a scene and I would do a double-take as if to be like, ‘I know that guy from somewhere!’ But we never ended up doing that.”

7. DIABLO CODY APOLOGIZED FOR THE DIANA ROSS LINE.

Juno says that her dad named her after Zeus’ wife. She tells him Juno “was supposed to be really beautiful but really mean, like Diana Ross.” At an April all-female cast live reading of the script, Cody told Vanity Fair she “felt bad” about the line, and when she wrote it she thought celebrities didn’t have feelings. “I want to apologize,” she said. To make things weirder, Ross’s daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross, also participated in the reading. “My God! You couldn’t cut it out for the reading? Seriously? That’s my mom for God’s sake,” Ellis Ross joked after Page read the line.

8. THE SOUNDTRACK SOLD MORE THAN 1 MILLION COPIES.

Kimya Dawson—along with Sonic Youth, The Kinks, Belle and Sebastian, Cat Power—had songs featured on the film's two soundtracks (the second one being Juno B-Sides: Almost Adopted Songs). The first one was a big hit—it went platinum. Dawson, who plays in The Moldy Peaches, was discovered through her paintings. Three years before the movie came out, Dawson painted a picture for future Juno casting director Kara Lipson. Page was a big fan of The Moldy Peaches and recommended the band to Reitman. Lipson heard he was trying to track Dawson down. “So she just e-mailed me and was like, ‘Hey, remember me? I ordered a painting,’” Dawson told Entertainment Weekly. “She sent me a copy of [Reitman’s first feature] Thank You for Smoking and the [Juno] screenplay. And then, once I’d watched Thank You for Smoking and read the screenplay, I was like, ‘Okay, cool.’ I liked that movie, and this is a nice story about family and pregnancy and all that business that I like.”

9. NAPOLEON DYNAMITE INFLUENCED CODY, BUT NOT THE DIRECTOR.

Four years before Juno was released, Napoleon Dynamite, another micro-budgeted film that grossed a lot of money, inspired Cody. “Napoleon Dynamite was the successful indie movie. And I saw it, and I went, okay, I’ll write something like that. But I’ll make Napoleon a girl,” she told Vanity Fair.

But Reitman didn’t understand the Napoleon comparisons. “I actually see none of Napoleon Dynamite in this,” he told ComingSoon.net. “There’s a realness to this movie that Napoleon never had.” In fact, he’d compare it to Election. “I think there’s a lot of Mark stuff that’s drawn from Matthew Broderick’s character in Election—the humiliation."

10. JENNIFER GARNER’S CHARACTER WASN’T THAT COLD.


Fox Searchlight Pictures

Garner’s Vanessa wants to adopt Juno’s baby. At first she comes across as cold, but eventually softens. “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,” Garner told Entertainment Weekly. “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.”

11. THE MOVIE ISN’T REALLY ABOUT TEEN PREGNANCY.

“We didn’t intend to make a movie about teen pregnancy and the options available to people who find themselves in that situation,” Cody told NPR. “We just wanted to tell a personal story about maturity and relationships. And the pregnancy just kind of motivates the story."

12. NEITHER PAGE NOR CODY WAS FAMILIAR WITH SOUPY SALES.

Juno references the famous comedian in the movie, even though Page—and possibly Cody—had no idea who he was. “I always wonder about that line because I think, 'No way would any teenager reference Soupy Sales,'” Cody told PopMatters, “but it always gets a laugh. I’m always aware of my own failings as a writer. I’m not even quite sure who Soupy Sales is.” Page said, “I had no idea it was even someone.”

13. HAMBURGER PHONE SALES INCREASED.

Because Juno liked to talk on a hamburger phone, the studio thought it would be a fun marketing ploy to send out promotional hamburger phones. Australians sold the phones on eBay, and eBay in the U.S. said demand for the phone jumped 759 percent right after Juno was released in theaters. The phone currently sells on Amazon for $14.95.

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA
12 Surprising Facts About Robin Williams
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for PCA

Robin Williams had a larger-than-life personality. On screen and on stage, he embodied what he referred to as “hyper-comedy.” Offscreen, he was involved in humanitarian causes and raised three children—Zak, Zelda, and Cody. On July 16, HBO debuts the documentary Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, directed by Marina Zenovich. The film chronicles his rise on the L.A. and San Francisco stand-up comedy scenes during the 1970s, to his more dramatic roles in the 1980s and '90s in award-winning films like Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; Awakenings; The Fisher King; and Good Will Hunting. The film also focuses on August 11, 2014, the date of his untimely death. Here are 12 surprising facts about the beloved entertainer.

1. ROBIN WILLIAMS GOT HIS START AT A COMEDY WORKSHOP INSIDE A CHURCH.

A still from 'Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind' (2018)
HBO

After leaving Juilliard, Robin Williams found himself back in his hometown of San Francisco, but he couldn’t find work as an actor. Then he saw something for a comedy workshop in a church and decided to give it a shot. “So I went to this workshop in the basement of a Lutheran church, and it was stand-up comedy, so you don’t get to improvise with others, but I started off doing, ostensibly, it was just like improvising but solo," he told NPR. "And then I started to realize, ‘Oh.’ [I started] building an act from there."

2. HE FORMED A FRIENDSHIP WITH KOKO THE GORILLA.

In 2001, Williams visited Koko the gorilla, who passed away in June, at The Gorilla Foundation in Northern California. Her caregivers had shown her one of his movies, and she seemed to recognize him. Koko repeatedly signed for Williams to tickle her. “We shared something extraordinary: laughter,” Williams said of the encounter. On the day Williams died, The Foundation shared the news with Koko and reported that she fell into sadness.

3. FOR A TIME, HE WAS A MIME IN CENTRAL PARK.

In 1974, photographer Daniel Sorine captured photos of two mimes in New York's Central Park. As it turned out, one of the mimes was Williams, who was attending Juilliard at the time. “What attracted me to Robin Williams and his fellow mime, Todd Oppenheimer, was an unusual amount of intensity, personality, and physical fluidity,” Sorine said. In 1991, Williams revisited the craft by playing Mime Jerry in Bobcat Goldthwait’s film Shakes the Clown. In the movie, Williams hilariously leads a how-to class in mime.

4. HE TRIED TO GET LYDIA FROM MRS. DOUBTFIRE BACK IN SCHOOL.

As a teen, Lisa Jakub played Robin Williams’s daughter Lydia Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire. “When I was 14 years old, I went on location to film Mrs. Doubtfire for five months, and my high school was not happy,” Jakub wrote on her blog. “My job meant an increased workload for teachers, and they were not equipped to handle a ‘non-traditional’ student. So, during filming, they kicked me out.”

Sensing Jakub’s distress over the situation, Williams typed a letter and sent it to her school. “A student of her caliber and talent should be encouraged to go out in the world and learn through her work,” he wrote. “She should also be encouraged to return to the classroom when she’s done to share those experiences and motivate her classmates to soar to their own higher achievements … she is an asset to any classroom.”

Apparently, the school framed the letter but didn’t allow Jakub to return. “But here’s what matters from that story—Robin stood up for me,” Jakub wrote. “I was only 14, but I had already seen that I was in an industry that was full of back-stabbing. And it was entirely clear that Robin had my back.”

5. HE WASN’T PRODUCERS' FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY MORK ON MORK & MINDY.

Anson Williams, Marion Ross, and Don Most told The Hallmark Channel that a different actor was originally hired to play Mork for the February 1978 Happy Days episode “My Favorite Orkan,” which introduced the alien character to the world. “Mork & Mindy was like the worst script in the history of Happy Days. It was unreadable, it was so bad,” Anson Williams said. “So they hire some guy for Mork—bad actor, bad part.” The actor quit, and producer Garry Marshall came to the set and asked: “Does anyone know a funny Martian?” They hired Williams to play Mork, and from September 1978 to May 1982, Williams co-headlined the spinoff Mork & Mindy for four seasons.

6. HE “RISKED” A ROLE IN AN OFF-BROADWAY PLAY.

Actor Robin Williams poses for a portrait during the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California
Michael Caulfield, Getty Images for PCA

In 1988, Williams made his professional stage debut as Estragon in the Mike Nichols-directed Waiting for Godot, which also starred Steve Martin and F. Murray Abraham. The play was held off-Broadway at Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center. The New York Times asked Williams if he felt the show was a career risk, and he responded with: “Risk! Of never working on the stage again! Oh, no! You’re ruined! It’s like you're ruined socially in Tustin,” a town in Orange County, California. “If there’s risk, you can’t think about it,” he said, “or you’ll never be able to do the play.”

Williams had to restrain himself and not improvise during his performance. “You can do physical things,” he said, “but you don’t ad lib [Samuel] Beckett, just like you don’t riff Beethoven.” In 1996, Nichols and Williams once again worked together, this time in the movie The Birdcage.

7. HE USHERED IN THE ERA OF CELEBRITY VOICE ACTING.

The 1992 success of Aladdin, in which Williams voiced Genie, led to more celebrities voicing animated characters. According to a 2011 article in The Atlantic, “Less than 20 years ago, voice acting was almost exclusively the realm of voice actors—people specifically trained to provide voices for animated characters. As it turns out, the rise of the celebrity voice actor can be traced to a single film: Disney’s 1992 breakout animated hit Aladdin.” Since then, big names have attached themselves to animated films, from The Lion King to Toy Story to Shrek. Williams continued to do voice acting in animated films, including Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Happy Feet, and Happy Feet 2.

8. HE FORGOT TO THANK HIS MOTHER DURING HIS 1998 OSCAR SPEECH.

In March 1998, Williams won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. In 2011, Williams appeared on The Graham Norton Show, and Norton asked him what it was like to win the award. “For a week it was like, ‘Hey congratulations! Good Will Hunting, way to go,'” Williams said. “Two weeks later: ‘Hey, Mork.’”

Then Williams mentioned how his speech accidentally left out one of the most important people in his life. “I forgot to thank my mother and she was in the audience,” he said. “Even the therapist went, ‘Get out!’ That was rough for the next few years. [Mom voice] ‘You came through here [points to his pants]! How’s the award?’”

9. HE COMFORTED STEVEN SPIELBERG DURING THE FILMING OF SCHINDLER’S LIST.

At this year’s 25th anniversary screening of Schindler’s List, held at the Tribeca Film Festival, director Steven Spielberg shared that Williams—who played Peter Pan in Spielberg’s Hook—would call him and make him laugh. “Robin knew what I was going through, and once a week, Robin would call me on schedule and he would do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone,” Spielberg said. “I would laugh hysterically, because I had to release so much.”

10. HE HELPED ETHAN HAWKE GET HIS AGENT.

During a June 2018 appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Ethan Hawke recalled how, while working on Dead Poets Society, Williams was hard on him. “I really wanted to be a serious actor,” Hawke said. “I really wanted to be in character, and I really didn’t want to laugh. The more I didn’t laugh, the more insane [Williams] got. He would make fun of me. ‘Oh this one doesn't want to laugh.’ And the more smoke would come out of my ears. He didn’t understand I was trying to do a good job.” Hawke had assumed Williams hated him during filming.

After filming ended, Hawke went back to school, but he received a surprising phone call. It was from Williams’s agent, who—at Williams's suggestion—wanted to sign Hawke. Hawke said he still has the same agent today.

11. HE WAS ALMOST CAST IN MIDNIGHT RUN.

In February 1988, Williams told Rolling Stone how he sometimes still had to audition for roles. “I read for a movie with [Robert] De Niro, [Midnight Run], to be directed by Marty Brest,” Williams said. “I met with them three or four times, and it got real close, it was almost there, and then they went with somebody else. The character was supposed to be an accountant for the Mafia. Charles Grodin got the part. I was craving it. I thought, ‘I can be as funny,’ but they wanted someone obviously more in type. And in the end, he was better for it. But it was rough for me. I had to remind myself, ‘Okay, come on, you’ve got other things.’”

In July 1988, Universal released Midnight Run. Just two years later, Williams finally worked with De Niro, on Awakenings.

12. BILLY CRYSTAL AND WILLIAMS USED TO TALK ON THE PHONE FOR HOURS.

Actors Robin Williams (L) and Billy Crystal pose at the afterparty for the premiere of Columbia Picture's 'RV' on April 23, 2006 in Los Angeles, California
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Starting in 1986, Williams, Billy Crystal, and Whoopi Goldberg co-hosted HBO’s Comic Relief to raise money for the homeless. Soon after Williams’s death, Crystal went on The View and spoke with Goldberg about his friendship with Williams. “We were like two jazz musicians,” Crystal said. “Late at night I get these calls and we’d go for hours. And we never spoke as ourselves. When it was announced I was coming to Broadway, I had 50 phone messages, in one day, from somebody named Gary, who wanted to be my backstage dresser.”

“Gary” turned out to be Williams.

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind premieres on Monday, July 16 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO.

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Walt Disney Pictures
10 Facts About Hocus Pocus
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

In a 2014 Reddit AMA, Bette Midler said she'd be interested in doing a Hocus Pocus sequel. "You have to go to send in your cards to the Walt Disney company," she said. "The ball's in their court." While you get those cards ready, here are some facts about the original, which arrived in theaters 25 years ago today.

1. THE STORY ORIGINATED AS A BEDTIME STORY.

The story for Hocus Pocus came about after writer David Kirschner invented a bedtime story for his kids. He later wrote the story up and submitted it to Muppet Magazine (why does this not still exist?), where it gained recognition.

2. THE WRITERS USED PROPS TO PITCH IT TO STUDIO EXECUTIVES.

Bette Midler in 'Hocus Pocus' (1993)
Walt Disney Pictures

To pitch the story to Disney, the writers had execs enter a dark room with broomsticks and a vacuum cleaner hanging from the ceiling. They also scattered 15 pounds of candy corn throughout the room in an effort to invoke Halloween nostalgia. It obviously worked!

3. IT WAS NOT AN IMMEDIATE HIT.

Though it’s a cult classic now, Hocus Pocus didn’t do that well when it first came out in 1993, perhaps because it was released in July instead of September or October. Though it didn’t have a terrible opening—$8,125,471, putting it in fourth place at the box office that weekend—it fell to $2,017,688 a few weeks later, and bad reviews from the critics didn’t help matters.

Entertainment Weekly was particularly put off by the movie, calling it a “piece of corny slapstick trash” and saying that “It’s acceptable scary-silly kid fodder that adults will find only mildly insulting. Unless they’re Bette Midler fans. In which case it’s depressing as hell.”

4. BETTE MIDLER LOVES IT.

Bette Midler, by the way, has said that Hocus Pocus is her favorite film out of all of the films she’s ever done. (At least as of 2008.) Thora Birch agreed, recently saying, “The most fun I ever had on a film was Hocus Pocus.”

5. KATHY NAJIMY LOVES IT, TOO.

Midler isn't the only star of the film who isn't immune to its allure: Kathy Najimy has said she watches the movie with her family every year on August 15.

6. IT COULD HAVE STARRED LEONARDO DICAPRIO.

The role of Max was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio. He turned it down to do What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

7. SARAH JESSICA PARKER IS RELATED TO A WOMAN FAMOUSLY ACCUSED OF BEING A WITCH.

Had Sarah Jessica Parker known then what she knows now, she might have approached the role of Sarah Sanderson a little differently. When the actress went on the show Who Do You Think You Are to trace her family history, Parker discovered that one of her ancestors was Esther Elwell, one of the women accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. After a young girl said she saw Esther’s “spectre” strangling neighbor Mary Fitch, Elwell was arrested, but escaped going to trial.

8. THORA BIRCH REVISITED THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN AMERICAN BEAUTY.

While the kids are prematurely celebrating victory against the Sanderson sisters after locking them in the kiln, they’re shown talking in front of a house as they walk to a park. The house was later used as the house Thora Birch’s character lived in for American Beauty.

9. THE KIDS WEREN'T HUGE FANS OF THE CATS.

The kids all hated working with the cats. Many different cats were used to represent Binx, and each one served a different purpose—one was good at cuddling with the kids, one would jump on command, etc. Every time a new cat was used, the children would have to coerce the kitty to trust them by using treats and a clicker. They got sick of it.

10. MUCH OF THE ORIGINAL CAST REUNITED FOR A 20TH REUNION.

Most of the cast participated in a 20th anniversary event for D23 (the Disney fan club) members. Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler were not in attendance, but pretty much everyone else was, including Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson), Vinessa Shaw (Allison), Omri Katz (Max), Thora Birch (Dani), and Doug Jones (Billy Butcherson). You can watch some of that reunion above.

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