Ellen Page talks films, feminism and fame in Hollywood


When last we saw Ellen Page here in the states she was strapping on some skates and straddling Drew Barrymore. Or, as I like to call in my daydreams, just another average Tuesday. But now that her roller derby flick Whip It is finally coming to the United Kingdom, she is talking again about the film, feminism and being famous.

The 23-year-old star spoke with the Guardian (and wore some bunny ears — just in time for Easter).

On if she was like Bliss Cavendar when she was a teenager:

To a certain extent. I am from a small town — Halifax, Nova Scotia — and when I was 16 I finished school, moved to Toronto, started working and experienced all the freedom that Bliss is yearning for. But the funny thing for me is that now, age 23, I’m back home and this is where I feel the most grounded and the most myself. I’m loving it, trying to squeeze as much out of the orange as I can. It usually happens to people much later in life, this return to your roots, but I guess I started out earlier than most.

On her new-found fame since Juno:

That was a big turning point for me. It was very unexpected. I was used to doing small, low-budget films and this just happened to be one small low-budget film that more than 100 people saw. I found it very strange to be suddenly talking about myself all the time and to be followed down the street. But it’s been a huge gift too. To be in a position, at my age, where I am financially independent, I can help develop things, I can promote stuff that I believe in, I can say no a lot and spend time writing — that is a gift. I’m also exploring projects that interest me outside the film industry.

On the controversy created by Juno:

I was like, “You know what? You all need to calm down.” People are so black and white about this. Because she kept the baby everybody said the film was against abortion. But if she’d had an abortion everybody would have been like, “Oh my God.” I am a feminist and I am totally pro-choice, but what’s funny is when you say that people assume that you are pro-abortion. I don’t love abortion but I want women to be able to choose and I don’t want white dudes in an office being able to make laws on things like this. I mean what are we going to do — go back to clothes hangers?

On the pressure of being perfect in Hollywood:

I hate to admit it but, yeah. I definitely feel more of a sense of personal insecurity. I really try and smarten up when I feel that way but sometimes it does get to me. The fact is, young girls are bombarded by advertisements and magazines full of delusional expectations that encourage people to like themselves less and then they want to buy more things. It is really sad and it encourages the consumerist cycle. Boys used to have it slightly easier but I think they are now getting more of the same kind of pressure. Look at all the guys in junior high who think they should have a six-pack.

On women’s treatment in entertainment:

I think it’s a total drag. I’ve been lucky to get interesting parts but there are still not that many out there for women. And everybody is so critical of women. If there’s a movie starring a man that tanks, then I don’t see an article about the fact that the movie starred a man and that must be why it bombed. Then a film comes out where a woman is in the lead, or a movie comes out where a bunch of girls are roller derbying, and it doesn’t make much money and you see articles about how women can’t carry a film.

On what she’d do if she wasn’t acting:

I’m very interested in psychology. For a while I thought seriously about becoming a therapist for troubled children. Psychology is not too dissimilar to acting, I always think.

Ellen always comes across so smart and engaged in her interviews. Knowing that thoughtful, articulate young women like her are helping to shape the next generation of women in film makes me hopeful for the future.

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