I think of the film as a love story, and it’s straightforward, but there’s definitely stuff in it that’s more different than a mainstream film. I didn’t really get this until now, that I’ve seen it and experienced it through [Ellen Page] and knowing more actors now, but you have less options, I think…
Actually, I don’t think you do, but you’re told you have less options. When you’re at the point where she was before everything took off, you have more options to do whatever kinds of films that you want; like, she was a huge fan of Lynne Ramsay, so I said, “Why don’t you call Lynne Ramsay and ask her if she wants to do a film?” The films that she had done when we first started talking were stuff like Hard Candy; she was known as somebody who played really difficult, tough-edged characters. Jack and Diane was supposed to be this film where she’d play somebody who’s a surprise to that: somebody who’s really soft and sweet [the Diane character].
I think a lot of the stuff in that bigger, more mainstream world is based on fear; like, if you do this then you might lose this and this other opportunity, and people might typecast you because you’re in this film. The people who are saying that know that part of their investment is on this person’s career, and they want that person to be in a certain field. And I also think it’s more difficult for girls—there aren’t a lot of parts available for girls. If you think about it, there aren’t that many girls who transition past the age of 25; there’s always a new slew of young girls in films. But, on the other hand, if you see actress who’s doing things that she really loves, and that you respect, then that becomes part of what makes them worth something. You’re excited about seeing them again.
In this interview with Complex, Jack & Diane director Bradley Rust Gray talks about how Ellen Page was initially attached to the film but how she changed after Juno. The whole interview is worth reading.