Jason Reitman

Best known for directing Thank You for Smoking (2005), Juno (2007), Up in the Air (2009), and Young Adult (2011). As of February 2, 2010, he has received one Grammy Award, one Golden Globe, and four Academy Award nominations, two of which are for Best Director. Reitman is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States.

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Jason Reitman (born October 19, 1977) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He is the son of director Ivan Reitman.

Reitman was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the son of Geneviève Robert, an actress, and comedy director Ivan Reitman. Reitman has two younger sisters: Catherine, an actress, producer and writer, who is three years younger, and Caroline, a nurse, who is 12 years younger.

Reitman’s father was born in Czechos
Reitman graduated from Harvard-Westlake School in 1995; he was a high jumper in high school, coached by Occidental College Hall-of-Famer Phil Sweeney.

Reitman attended Skidmore College and was going to major in pre-med studies before transferring to the University of Southern California (USC) to major in English/Creative Writing. At USC he performed with improv group Commedus Interruptus.

He 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? two separate times, he declined. Reitman’s first feature film, Thank You for Smoking, opened in 2005. He developed the Christopher Buckley novel into a screenplay and, eventually, a film. The film was a commercial and critical success, making over $39 million worldwide, and was nominated for two Golden Globes. After the success of Thank You for Smoking, Reitman mentioned in an interview that his next project 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 yet to come to fruition.

His second film, Juno, generated tremendous buzz after its premier at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in December 2007. 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. He won 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 made over $140 million in the U.S. box, making it the largest success of Reitman’s career and more successful than any of his father’s films since Kindergarten Cop.

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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 Hard C’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 remains unclear whether or not Wilson has finished the script.

Hard C Productions produced films The Ornate Anatomy of Living Things and Jennifer’s Body. Anatomy was written by Matthew Spicer and Max Winkler, and revolves 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’s 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 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 executive-produced the erotic thriller Chloe, theatrically released by Sony Pictures Classics in March 2010. He helped persuade Amanda Seyfried to star in the film. The film enjoyed commercial success and became director Atom Egoyan’s biggest moneymaker ever.

On January 15, 2019, Reitman announced he would be working on a continuation of the original Ghostbusters created by his father, slated for a 2020 summer release.

Before his feature film career began, 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 ghostbusting 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 Walmart 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 pre-taped sketch for 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 with a chainsaw).

Since 2011, Reitman has directed the Live Read series, a monthly live staged reading of film scripts as part of the Film Independent at LACMA.

Reitman is a self-described libertarian. When he was 16 and still in high school, he moved in with a woman 10 years his senior. They separated after 7 years.

In 2000, when he was 23, Reitman started dating his next-door neighbor, writer Michele Lee, with whom he co-wrote the 2004 comedic short “Consent.” They married and have one child, a daughter named Josie, born in 2006. After being together 10 years, Reitman filed for divorce in June 2011 and was divorced as of 2014.

Jason Reitman’s directing credits include…

Year Movie
2005 Thank You for Smoking
2007 Juno
2009 Up in the Air
2011 Young Adult
2013 Labor Day
2018 Tully
2018 Front Runner

Memorable Quotes by Jason Reitman

“I like to tell original stories, and the most simplistic argument would be that if you want to tell original stories, tell stories about women.”

“I don’t want to make films that give you the answer. If there is a message to my films – and I hope there isn’t – it’s to be open-minded.”

“Being the son of a filmmaker, you are aware of a career as a director. You don’t think of it as just movies, but as a life. I couldn’t help but wonder how my life was going to go … One film does not make a career.”

Things You May Not Know About Jason Reitman

Directed 4 actors in Oscar nominated performances: Ellen Page, George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick.

His favorite films are Election (1999), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Harold and Maude (1971), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Carnal Knowledge (1971), Shampoo (1975), Taxi Driver (1976) and The Conversation (1974).

In the opening-title sequence of Thank You for Smoking (2005), which used the graphic motif of traditional cigarette cartons, Jason’s credit is accompanied by the text “Est’d 1977.” This is his year of birth.

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