TORONTO - Wearing blue jeans and a hoodie and barely tall enough to ride a roller coaster, Ellen Page sat alone on a step outside the Four Seasons ballroom.
Her anonymity was amazing. Page was starring in "Juno," one of the hottest films at September's Toronto International Film Festival.
One of the most acclaimed young actresses in the often fickle movie business, Page scored critical plaudits in "Hard Candy" and also played Kitty Pryde in the third "X-Men" movie (she has since won numerous "Breakthrough" awards for "Juno" and yesterday was nominated for a Golden Globe). She is friendly and unassuming, as happy hiking with a backpack as working on a movie set.
And happy she is. "I feel so lucky," she said, "it almost can make me feel ill. Like, what's going on? Most people in the world can't even understand the concept of 'Do what you love.' "
Coming off her "Juno" high, Page spoke with the Daily News at the Four Seasons.
Q: Since the buzz on "Juno" is so good, have you been able to speak with co-star Michael Cera about how it's going to change your life, the way "Superbad" changed his?
A: I was asking him, but first I was like, 'Awesome movie, man. You're amazing and talented and you deserve it because you're one of the sweetest people I've ever met.' But he says it hasn't changed much. I think that's because he's really humble and he is most certainly someone who is extremely honest and attached to doing what he loves versus having people know his name.
I think if you want that, you can have that. You can make your life change. But you can also remain who you are and relatively incognito and maybe once in awhile, someone will say, 'Hey, I saw that movie. Good job.' And you say, 'Thanks.'
Q: So I don't have to look forward to your picture in the tabloids clubbing for the next few years.
A: Not really my scene, to be honest. Not judging the scene, but I don't go out much . . .
Q: You work all the time.
A: Oh, I just took a lot of time off, to the extent that I was like, 'I've got to get a job. I'ze gots to makes some dough.' Just kidding. I don't live a lavish lifestyle. I do other things. I went traveling this summer; that was amazing. I went camping in Newfoundland for two weeks. I've been spending time with friends. I'm a nature person and I love being connected to that.
Q: For "Into the Wild," William Hurt talked about using his tools as an actor. Jena Malone and Kristen Stewart said they used their intuition and didn't want to be bogged down by tools. Where do you fit in?
A: I shot a film, 'American Crime,' which is a true story and you have to do research, you have to know who you're playing. I was playing a 16-year-old in 1965 and they're very different from me. But that aside, I think actors all have different ways of going about what they do. For me it's about connecting my heart and then letting everything else fall into place by working with others and trusting others. That's my favorite part of the process.
I find that acting, playing various roles, actually helps me as a human being because it really opens my mind.
Q: You seem to have a great capacity to "feel" and get the most out of each moment.
A: That's what I want. Life's friggin' fragile. I'm 20, so that might sound silly, but I think it's a good thing to realize. It's good to have that perspective. I love doing this but if it all fell apart, which it easily could . . .
Q: I think you're safe right now.
A: [Laughs] . . . OK. But you know what I mean, you've got to always do the next thing. And there's this pressure and time goes by and then all of a sudden you're like, 'Where did time go by? I'm living in hotels.' I've had that feeling already and I don't want it again. I want to live my life and have an identity separate from this, even though I'm so grateful to be doing this.
Q: It's so hard to have a career in the movies. Do you make choices based on that, or do you say, 'This is where I want to be right now and I'm not going to worry about five years from now'?
A: It's a balance. When you do this, you do have to understand to a certain extent that it's a business. But I don't really feel like compromising my happiness or integrity, because life is too short and there are a lot of things that my heart's attached to. So I pick roles that I want to play that I feel branch away from stereotype, and a lot of the actresses I really like have done that.
Look at Sissy Spacek. She's unbelievable. 'Badlands,' one of my favorite films. Kate Winslet, I really adore her. I think to go from 'Titanic' to an independent film shot in Morocco ['Hideous Kinky'] - well-done.
Q: The music that Juno likes in the movie, is that from the script or you?
A: Some of it's from the script. Patti Smith is my icon. 'Horses' is one of those few albums that's always next to the CD player.
Q: How did you as a 20-year-old come to Patti Smith?
A: Since a young age I've always been around people a lot older than me and I've been exposed to different things. I like to think I'm open-minded and I love music.
Q: And that's you playing the guitar in the movie?
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Q: So do you want to be one of those actress/singers?
A: Don't think so. The guitar helps me feel sane.
Q: Acoustic or electric?
A: Acoustic. But I would actually love to be a rock star. Really strong female musicians - Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Patti Smith, Merrill Nisker who's Peaches - I freakin' love these chicks. Man, would I love to go on a stage and rock out. But it'll probably never happen. Maybe I'll just play a role. That'll be fun. Or start a band. Juliette Lewis has a band.
Q: What's next?
A: It was nice to take some time off but now I'm jonesin' to sink my teeth into something. There are a couple of projects floating around, a couple I'm attached to, and hopefully we'll get some money and make some movies.
Q: Any interest in writing or directing down the road?
A: It's probably a stereotypical thing to say, but I would love to make my own film. I need to write a script, and that terrifies me.
Q: So, with the 'Juno' script . . .
A: One of the best scripts I'd ever read.
Q: Is all your dialogue from the script? Do you ever talk like that?
A: A friend of mine from Halifax came with me this weekend to hang out, which is fun because they get to experience this other life that I live, and my friend sees so much of me in 'Juno' because I can be very inappropriate and sarcastic and abrupt. I'm very Juno-ish, but that's Diablo Cody's amazing dialogue. There are little things that are me, it's a blend, but predominantly her brilliance.
Q: Lastly, what part of Canada did you grow up in?
A: Nova Scotia, Canada's Ocean Playground. Halifax. Born and raised. . . . I'm a tomboy from Nova Scotia. *