Juno - Ellen Page interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
ELLEN Page, the Oscar nominated young star of Juno, talks about what it’s like to be thrust into the awards race, identifying with her character and helping to choose the film’s cool soundtrack.
She also contemplates her career after Juno and why she feels drawn to more challenging roles instead of blockbusters. She also discusses her haunted house and her admiration for Kate Winslet…
Q. Weren’t you on a train to London from Paris when you heard about your Oscar nomination?
Ellen Page: Yeah, I was kind of in transit. It was crazy, we were coming from Paris when I found out, but it was extremely exciting.
Q. Were you expecting it?
Ellen Page: No, not in my head. I do a lot of press and people talk about it constantly so, of course it’s on your mind but it’s not something I would ever expect. So I was delightfully surprised and excited. It’s ridiculously humbling to be nominated with such incredible women.
Q. What do you think of the performances of the ladies you’re up against – such as Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose or Julie Christie in Away From Her?
Ellen Page: Incredible. I’m really happy for everyone. But Laura Linney didn’t really get talked about for The Savages much. I love Laura Linney and I love that movie. No one’s really talked about it much and the [Golden] Globes didn’t recognise it. But I really respect everyone.
Q. Are you also pleased that Juno has received a number of other nominations [best screenplay etc] besides your own?
Ellen Page: Oh yeah because we didn’t expect what’s happened at all. I mean when you shoot an independent film it was very much like: “God, I hope this makes the Toronto Film Festival!” [laughs] And here we are, it’s insane. I feel that [director] Jason Reitman hasn’t really received enough of what he deserves because he’s incredible and did such a good job with this movie.
Q. And Diablo Cody’s script is also in the running…
Ellen Page: That was kind of a given [laughs]. That was the one I knew. I’d be like: “Diablo, don’t be an idiot. You know you’re getting nominated for an Academy Award.” And then she’d tell me I was, so the first text I got was: “I told you so” from Diablo Cody.
Q. Do you identify with the character of Juno?
Ellen Page: I think first and foremost we were just so excited that she as going to exist. I related with her in the sense that I wish that when I was in high school and junor high a character like that had existed. Because from what we’re traditionally used to seeing of what a young woman is I relate to Juno far more than that.
Q. What do you think of the criticisms that the film is negative towards abortion?
Ellen Page: Well, she goes to the abortion clinic and she completely looks at all of her options – and that’s the most important thing. People who have said that the movie is negative towards abortion are just trying to create a story out of nothing. If you knew me, and you knew the writer and the director, you’d absolutely never say that. And the point of the film is that it allows all of the choices to be visited and looks at it from a female’s perspective. If I was 16 and pregnant, I don’t know what I would do at all. I would just hope that all those choices were freely available to me and the film expresses that.
Q. It’s a real laugh out loud comedy and script. Was it difficult to keep a straight face?
Ellen Page: Sometimes, yeah. I think I have a weird sense of humour. I love Jennifer Garner in this movie and one of her lines is, I think, one of my favourite lines in the entire film. It was actually improvised. It was: “I’m sorry to interrupt the jam session…” For some reason I found that incredibly hilarious and I remember shooting the scene with her once and I think I was just tired and at my wit’s end… I think it’s going to be put on the DVD as an outtake or something. But she just said something that for some reason I found so funny that I started laughing uncontrollably and I couldn’t keep it together. For some reason, Jason Reitman decided to roll [the camera].
Q. Do you have similar music taste to Juno? I gather you had a hand in putting together the soundtrack…
Ellen Page: Well, what Juno directly likes – I do like punk from the midway ’70s very much. I’m a huge Patti Smith fan. Mind you, I’m a little less arrogant than Juno. I love all kinds of music. What happened when Jason Reitman asked who I thought Juno would listen to, I said the Mouldy Peaches. He hadn’t heard of them, so I played him some of their music and next thing I knew he wanted to add the song at the end of the film. So that was pretty awesome. I love music so the fact that I’m responsible for a lot of the soundtrack is a pretty cool feeling.
Q. Are you getting more offers for roles now? And are many of them the same type of thing as Juno?
Ellen Page: Yes I’m getting more offers than I did a year ago but some are similar to Juno and some aren’t. But I also did Hard Candy and people were saying: “Oh, you’re going to get typecast…” But every movie I’ve shot since then has been completely different.
Q. Do you find yourself drawn to roles that challenge you as a young actress and viewers’ perceptions of the characters you play? You’re playing a pregnant teen now, for instance, and you played a teenager who attempts to trap a suspected paedophile in Hard Candy. You also just recently played a girl who was locked in a basement in An American Crime. They’re tough choices…
Ellen Page: Yeah, I guess. But this is what I love to do and if I wasn’t challenging myself or being a part of a films that really made my heart get excited I would be bored and I’d be bad in them. It’s just what I love to do.
Q. And yet you could have gone down the blockbuster path once you’d got the role in X-Men 3. Did you deliberately choose to follow a different path?
Ellen Page: I’m grateful for the experience and to be a part of that kind of legacy. And Hollywood does make some really good movies. But, yeah, it’s been small films since then.
Q. Is it true that you’re currently living in a haunted house?
Ellen Page: Yeah [laughs]. It’s a former brothel and it’s haunted.
Q. How do you know for sure? Have you had any bad experiences?
Ellen Page: Not bad experiences. But things like make-up has vanished – mine and my roommates! A tupper-ware container full of jewellery also went missing and the microwave turns on a lot!
Q. Do you have any idea who the ghosts are?
Ellen Page: Yeah, I think they’re former people that worked in the brothel. I think it’s women that are stealing the jewellery and the make-up and the microwave obviously wasn’t invented when they were around, so…
Q. Are there any directors you’d like to work with?
Ellen Page: Yeah, there’s many. Michael Winterbottom I love. Alexander Payne, Tim Burton, Michel Gondrey… I could go on. I also love Sarah Polley.
Q. I read that Kate Winslet is one of your idols. What is it that you admire about her?
Ellen Page: Well, first and foremost just in regard to acting she’s stunning. She’s pretty flawless and extremely versatile. She’s really managed to establish a really great balance so she can shoot the films that she wants to shoot. Everything from Heavenly Creatures to Quills to Iris to Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, I just think she’s stunning. Little Children, I mean that’s ridiculously good. I think as a human being she carries herself so eloquently. And she’s dealt with her career in such a wonderful way. I mean she followed one of the biggest blockbusters of all time [Titanic] with an independent film shot in Morocco and has always remained true to herself and has been extremely real. Once people have said certain things or altered certain things, she’s fought against that. How cool is that?
Q. Have you met her?
Ellen Page: I did meet her very recently [smiles] at the National Board of Review Awards. I was nervous… I was standing 6ft away and I was just looking down because I was shy. But she said “hi” and was so sweet that I was really thrilled because I really do admire her so much.
Q. You also seem to shy away from the celebrity spotlight. Is that a conscious decision?
Ellen Page: It’s just generally not really who I am. I really don’t think I’m special because I’m an actor at all. I don’t understand that mentality, personally. It’s just not really something I’m interested in.