Thank You for Smoking director Jason Reitman's first feature film premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was featured this year at Sundance. Reitman was in Seattle recently for a screening of his film at the University of Washington, and graciously sat down with me for over an hour in the lobby of his hotel even though he hadn't eaten lunch yet. Reitman strolled into the lobby in casual attire, looking relaxed and confident. We started out joking about the lengthy production notes for the film ("I had to read them like, five times - all 40-something pages, and I was like, do they have to be this long?" Reitman noted), then moved on to discussing what it's like to be a famous director's kid, how he came to make Thank You for Smoking, and what it was like to direct Robert Duvall and William H. Macy.
Cinematical: You wrote in your director’s notes that you fell in love with Nick Naylor from the opening sentence [of the Christopher Buckley novel on which the film is based]. What drew you to that character?
Jason Reitman: Like love at first sight, it’s an emotional reaction. Here’s a guy who knows he’s the devil and he’s fine with it; he’s unapologetic. He’s comfortable with who he is and he has a thick skin. When you live in a world of spin, you understand that everything is spin, and everything is affected by spin from the other side. Nick has to be always calm, he can’t lose his cool. The other side is very emotional - the anti-smoking crowd is very emotionally reactive. Nick gives nothing away, he’s charismatic, he’s perfectly dressed, he’s well-read and charming.