Big Screen: The cast of "Jennifer's Body"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Classic literature has presented hell as a thing of many levels, and in contemporary society, some people would add high school as another. In the comedy-gore hybrid Jennifer's Body, celebrity screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Karyn Kusama attach to that a sub-level: "Hell is a teenage girl."

More specifically, hell is Megan Fox's Jennifer, a maneater-in-training in a small-town high school who develops an actual taste for male flesh after a run-in with a big-city emo band fronted by Adam Brody, which has more nefarious plans for her than a roll in the back of the tour van.

Jennifer's best friend Needy (Mamma Mia's Amanda Seyfried) has to deal with the ensuing mess and try to keep her boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons) from being added to the list of victims.

In a chat between reporters and the movie's costars following its midnight premiere last Thursday at the Toronto International Film Festival, co-stars Fox and Seyfried admitted they weren't big fans of high school themselves.

Fox explained that her acting ambition made her a target for her Christian school's in-crowd. "Girls can be really cruel," she said, echoing the movie's major theme.

Seyfried just found the whole thing boring. "I mean, high school sucked," she said. "I would never do it again."

But for the chance to work with Kusama, producer Jason Reitman and Cody, who won an Oscar for Juno, both actresses signed on for another trip to school on screen, and for more unique forms of discomfort than peer pressure or clique-y bullying.

Fox, a darling of the red carpet and Transformers fanboys, spent most of the shoot saturated in fake blood, and stuffed her throat full of Hershey's syrup for a scene in which Needy first meets the newly transformed Jennifer.

"I would scream and let it trickle from my mouth," she explained.

When the lifelong friends become adversaries, Needy and Jennifer engage in a gravity-defying bedroom battle over a canopy bed. It involved three days of shooting hooked up to wires and rigging that were covered by casts of the actresses' torsos.

"We had to pretend we had to kill each other," Seyfried said. "We both were bruised in certain places."

She found another bed scene a little easier, but Simmons couldn't say the same. The two act out one of the most realistically awkward teenage sex scenes on film, right up there with the couplings in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

"I was actually really nervous because I'd never shot a sex scene before," Simmons said.

"It's funny, it was super easy for me to do that scene," Seyfried added. "I felt like the pro when I was with Johnny because I'd done stuff like that in my work. It was more fun for me to feel Johnny so nervous, and it was perfect for the character."

But it's another erotic encounter in the film that has everyone talking. As hinted at in trailers, the increasingly complicated relationship between Jennifer and Needy leads to an extended lip lock between Fox and Seyfried.

Fox explained, "It's easier kissing someone who you know doesn't want to kiss you. Going into a scene with someone you think is going to enjoy it, that's worse in a work environment. But I knew [Amanda] clearly was not excited about it. She was vocal about it."

The actress was also outspoken about her belief that the scene isn't gratuitous despite the media sensationalizing, and her reading of it as less than sexy.

"I feel like it's so awkward and quiet," she said. "There's no score behind it."

Though costar Adam Brody said he thought the scene is kind of cool, he reconsidered when Fox interrupted the stream of questions from reporters to ask one of her own: "Could you watch yourself doing it?"

For a Q&A with "Jennifer's Body" screenwriter Diablo Cody, director Karyn Kusama and producer Jason Reitman, click to the Bad and the Beautiful blog