Ellen Page Interview – The East : “I Googled pictures of Alexander Skarsgard. (laughs) And I was like, ‘Oh, is that who I get to work with?’”
Canadian-born actress, Ellen Page, 26, stars in The East with Alexander Skarsgard and Brit Marling. Known for Juno, Inception, and Whip It, she will next star return to the X-Men franchise in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Not much is known about her personal life, however, she has allegedly been in a relationship with Alexander Skarsgard since last year when they shot the movie together. The petite actress who stands at 5’1” (Skarsgard is 6’4”) is dressed casually in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, little makeup and has a very un-movie-star like demeanour.
Q: Can you talk about your character and what it was that really drew you to this project?
I played the character of Izzy, a member of The East. She’s incredibly angry and frustrated and sad at the state of the world and the injustice that she sees and the lack of accountability for corporations that commit some pretty awful atrocities, often illegal, to the environment, and to the people that are disenfranchised who don’t have a voice. And what drew to me to it really was Brit’s (Marling) The Sound of My Voice, which was an incredible, intriguing, unique, beautiful, beautiful film. Brit’s performance was so incredible and then to read the script which was so beautifully written and suspenseful and entertaining and all these things and then exploring so many ideas that I was personally interested in, and then to meet them. Their passion and their creative drive is just palpable and infectious and contagious and you just want to be a part of their work. That’s how I felt.
Q: In the past you have talked about your support for environmental issues, so it seemed from that perspective, you could relate to Izzy. But was there any aspect to her that maybe you had a harder time wrapping your head around?
No I don’t think so. I think I completely understood her anger and her sadness in regards to her personal story, and her personal connection and journey with it, and I loved getting to explore it.
Q: How helpful was it to have the two people who put this story together, directing and acting right there alongside you as you were trying to work your way through the material?
I think it’s helpful. They are helpful, just because they are so open and collaborative. So I loved the script and I loved the role, and on top of that, you are working with two people that have no ego attached to it, so you sort of have this open dialogue where you feel safe to communicate what you feel, and are so supportive of you sort of creating something.
Q: Everybody’s process is different, and I know Zal and Brit went dumpster diving and lived off the grid. Did you do that for your back process, or you just show up on the day and you were ready to work and pretend you were part of the anarchists collective?
Well I had an experience where I studied permiculture design and eco village development when I was in Oregon when I was 22, maybe. So it’s not exactly the same, but I met a lot of people through that who were freegans and anarchists and had a very similar way of thought and a way of living and was immersed in that way of living. And so I was already sort of familiar with the sort of the aesthetic and the vibe and a lot of the philosophy. And it was a matter of reading some really compelling anarchist manifestos and then most importantly connecting with Izzy in the making.
Q: What were your thoughts when you got a call from X-Men saying, ‘Come on back,’ and also doing a story where, at least in the comics, Kitty is such a major character?
Yeah, I was super surprised. I did not think that that was going to come back again, so it was great. The cast that I got to work with in X-Men 3 and then this whole new cast were just so incredible. I didn’t work with Bryan (Singer) before because I was in the Brett Ratner film and so working with Bryan was great, and it’s been awesome, really fun.
We are still shooting.
Q: After you read this screenplay, what did you Google after reading it for preparation for this role?
I Googled pictures of Alexander Skarsgard. (laughs) And I was like, ‘Oh, is thats who I get to work with?’ I type in Alexander Skarsgard sexy. (laughs) And then I hit images. He’s got a body, lookit! (laughter)
Q: What is happening with Ms. Stevens?
It’s happening. No new updates, yeah.
Q: When you are ready for that are you paying more attention than you would have normally when you are on set as to what directors are doing?
Oh sure, I think what’s more interesting is actually the process of reading a script, not from an actor’s perspective, but from a director’s perspective. Like that shift is really interesting about thinking everything visually, and how you want to earn certain moments, how you want to film it, how you want to make sure that it feels honest and true? Like, looking at something in the entire picture, and so some mornings I am super inspired and others I am just completely shitting myself. (laughter)
Q: Did you find anything in common between yourself and your character?
I mean, it’s the same, it’s like I am angry and I am frustrated and it’s great to have the opportunity to play a character who really devotes her life and takes accountability of her own life. I am angry at myself too and I wake up every day knowingly and unwillingly aware that I am oppressing people because of where we live. Not everyone lives with the same comforts in the western world but most people do at the expense of exploiting poor people around the world so we can have the shit that we have. And the energy that we have.
Q: As a kid, what did you watch that really stuck in your mind that made you say, I want to do that as a job? I want to be an actress?
I think when I was a really little kid, I remember Jurassic Park being so impactful, and I recently re-watched it and was just like, ‘Damn. That is such a good film!’ I don’t think it was like maybe until I was fifteen, even though I had been working since I was about ten, but it was fifteen where I really started appreciating filmmaking for the art form and then really wanted to become serious about becoming an actor. Mostly it was a lot of really brilliant Canadian independent film, and watching a lot of the incredibly brilliant talented people in the country where I was from making really, really beautiful movies. And then that was really what sort of propelled me. And then a lot of people that I became really fortunate enough to work with at a young age made a difference in my life.
Q: What was your favorite movie?
Of all time? E.T