THR's Oscar Icons Portfolio: Steven Spielberg, Eva Marie Saint, Michael Moore
This story first appeared in the March 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
For Cody and Gatins, a win and nomination for best original screenplay -- for Juno and Flight, respectively -- have been equally career-defining. But Gatins is quick to quell the tendency among awards hounds to equate his recognition for penning the alcoholic-pilot drama to Cody's outta-nowhere explosion onto the scene six years ago with her indie dramedy about a precocious pregnant teenager.
"The truth is, I've been kicking around this f---ing godforsaken town forever," laughs Gatins, 44, a self-described former "C-list" actor whose first serious writing job was on the 1999 teen football drama Varsity Blues -- IMDb reveals he also played a character named "Smiling Man" in the film -- and who segued into more family-friendly fare such as Coach Carter and Real Steel. (He's currently penning the DreamWorks action flick Need for Speed alongside his brother George Gatins.) "This has been a long journey," he says. "I started writing Flight in 1999 before my wife and I had kids, and now we have three. One is 11, and he has a phone!"
Since becoming only the sixth woman to claim an original screenplay victory, Cody, 34, admits she too has felt her share of angst despite a healthy roster of post-Oscar projects including Jennifer's Body, Young Adult and her forthcoming directorial debut, Paradise. "I still have to tell myself I'm not wasting time when I pursue some new original idea," says Cody, laughing. " 'No, really, this one could get made! It really could!' I've learned, slowly, to embrace the process."
Cody and Gatins agree that the Oscar-season experience is a plot twist more strange than any storyline they could conjure ("Being inside the show felt like a bizarre pep rally," admits Cody) but that there are bright moments amid the mania. "I stood next to Ben Affleck in the Nominees Luncheon photo," says Gatins, "and some blogger circled my face and said, 'Wow, it's hard to out-handsome Ben.' And I said: 'OK that's it. I'm done. I can retire now.' "