The New ‘Indie Girl’: Ellen Page

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imageBLACKBOOK: When did you start acting?

ELLEN PAGE: When I was ten, a local casting director came to my school, and picked me for a part, because I had brown hair and was short, I guess.

BB: Any early roles you’d rather forget?

EP: Everything that I’ve done has led to something else, which has led to something else. It’s kind of fun when people try to label me a cool, indie girl, and I’m like, “No, I’m pretty sure I was in a movie called I Downloaded a Ghost, which is about a girl who downloads a ghost.”

BB: How has your family been dealing with the premieres and the press?

EP: They’re pretty chill about it all. I think they’re super-psyched. They support me, and they have their lives. They’re not overbearing. I think they get freaked out from time to time.

BB: Has fame left its mark on you at all?

EP: The only real change is that I’ve realized I have to be a little more cautious about things. I’ve become a little more exposed, vulnerable. To a certain extent, you have to remain private about things. Sometimes it makes me question people more. It’s like, “Oh, that’s so funny that these people who never talked to me in high school are now talking to me.” It’s like, fuck you. Do you really think I’m the kind of person who’s going to fall for that?

BB: Have you been introduced to the seedy side of Hollywood?

EP: No matter what industry you’re in, there are always negative aspects. Of course there are negative aspects to Hollywood. I’m just lucky that I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I think people who grow up surrounded by Hollywood are in that self-important, self-indulgent, surreal world—and they forget that the majority of the world doesn’t care about movies or magazines. The majority of the world could give a rat’s ass.

BB: Do you ever think that you might be in over your head?

EP: Totally, which is why I take off all the time. I haven’t worked since Juno. I went traveling, camping with friends. People are so obsessed with the next thing, progressing, succeeding. Society has such a weird perspective on success. I think whatever progress we have seems to be leading to destruction, which is a really scary thing. And when I start to feel myself attaching my happiness and sense of importance on what I do, that’s when I’m like, “Okay, I need to get my feet on the ground. I have to go remind myself what’s important.” Everything, life, is too fragile for that.

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BB: What are you reading right now?

EP: [Laughs.] Right now, I’m reading something by Daniel Pinchbeck.

BB: No way. Are you reading 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl?

EP: Shut up! That’s exactly what I’m reading! Oh wait, my Dad’s calling me. Forget it, he can wait. I read Breaking Open the Head, and I’m also reading a Diane Ackerman book, just cause hers is beautiful, poetic, nature writing, which makes me happy and depressed at the same time. And his stuff, well, it just freaks me out.

BB: Your projects are dark. Why are you drawn to stuff like this?

EP: Challenge is a big aspect of it, because if it’s not a challenge, then I’m bored. And if I’m bored, then I’m not passionate. And if I’m not passionate, then I get depressed. It definitely is a form of escapism, and I’m addicted to it. That’s actually why I took some time off. I said to myself, “I’m fine as myself, as a normal human being.” These roles have come to me, and the characters tend to branch away from stereotype, and offer me the ability to connect with them. BB: What’s more challenging for you, tragedy or comedy?

EP: One can be much more exhausting, just because you’re always trying to reach some sort of emotional extremity. Take An American Crime. It was emotionally brutal to go through, for the mind and the body. Juno is much more sterile, and a specific balance needs to be achieved for it to be honest and attainable for an audience. That can be pretty pretty precarious.

BB: Do you have any grievances against current representations of young women?

EP: Huge grievances, against the representation of young men too. When you’re in high school, media is a huge part of your life. You’re completely inundated be representations of what you’re supposed to find sexy, what you’re not supposed to find sexy. There’s no question that kids judge each other and themselves based on what’s out there in the mainstream media. I think the media has a responsibility to be more honest and open, and it’s a fucking drag that we can’t be more like that. I’ve been so lucky with the roles I’ve gotten to play already.

BB: Did you have any input on the soundtrack?

EP: That was actually one of the most magical parts of filming this movie. Maybe the second time I sat down with Jason Reitman, he was like, “What do you think Juno might listen to?” And I was like, “The Moldy Peaches!” I love them and [band member] Kimya Dawson. The next thing you knew, Mike [co-star Michael Cera] and I are there, playing on set, and Kimya’s there. And I’m pretty passionate about the music that I love. BB: Have you been given any good advice from veteran co-stars?

EP: I don’t think anyone I’ve worked with has been so direct, like, “Here is some advice.” Typically, I just learn through working with each actor. Working with Catherine Keener was incredible. She is an amazing actor, and a tremendous human being. I totally respect how she rolls with her career. She is genuine and does it because she loves acting. She doesn’t think she’s special, and is unbelievably sincere.

BB: Are you at all like Juno in real life? EP: Someone at the Toronto Film Festival asked me if I was like Juno, and I said, “Yeah, more so than some girl who likes to cut off men’s balls [like her character in Hard Candy]. I said something like, “I’m inappropriate, like Sarah Silverman on speed.” And then, jokingly, I added, “But maybe a little less racist.” I mean, of course I’m not fucking racist. A lot of my friends see tons of Ellen-isms in Juno. I don’t really tend to care about what other people think—not in a rude way—but in a, ‘here I am, take it or leave it’ kind of way.

BB: Do you censor yourself for interviews?

EP: I mean, not really. Unfortunately, no one ever seems to talk about anything different. It’s all movies and adopting babies.

BB: How do you prepare for your roles?

EP: Well, for An American Crime, I had to get in the head of a 16-year-old girl in 1965 in Indiana. So, what the heck does that mean? What is the enunciation like in the Midwest? What is it like to be someone who is brutally tortured and starved? What happens to her brain? So, that took an element of research. For Juno and Hard Candy, I tried to connect my heart to their hearts.

BB: I love when you say that.

EP: I want to know what makes my characters happy and what makes them feel pain. After that, everything else follows through.

BB: How big is your crush on Michael Cera, or are you into Jason Bateman types?

EP: It’s Michael Cera all the way. He’s got my heart. Can we just talk about how cute he is? I’m the president of his fan club. He is one sweet, sweet boy.