This year was an incredible and memorable year for Ellen, from her brave coming out on Valentine’s Day to being named Entertainer of the Year by OUT Magazine. Her courage and compassion has inspired us in so many ways, and as the year draws to a close, we would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!
Thank you for sticking around and supporting us. Here’s to another amazing year for Ellen and all her fans — we’ve got plenty to look forward to! (:
Ellen Page Daily wishes all Ellen fans and everyone around the world a very Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a wonderful day with your loved ones. <3
Christmas design by my lovely friend Cee.
Last night, Film Independent held its fourth annual Live Read and this year’s selection was the classic Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back. While some of the cast was announced earlier this week (Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker, J.K. Simmons as Darth Vader, Stephen Merchant as C-3PO, Dennis Haysbert as Lando Calrissian, Kevin Pollak as Yoda), it wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that director Jason Reitman surprised us all with his casting of Han Solo, the male hero and object of Princess Leia’s affection. Here is how the actor brought her on stage:
“In the role of Han Solo, originated by Harrison Ford—I’m so excited to say these words: Ellen mother fucking Page.”
Ellen, clad in a black blazer, white-button down and black leather pants, received warm applause from the audience of Star Wars fans. The kind of following an enterprise like Star Wars has can be a fickle bunch because of their dedication to the world George Lucas created, which has spanned decades, so I was little nervous they might reject a woman reading the Han Solo role. That didn’t seem to be the case, though—instead, Ellen played the part as written, meaning she was referred to as a man; “him” and “his” and having a “scruffy” face. And Alba, in her role as the iconic Princess Leia, did not play down the flirtation between Han and Leia. Their exchanges were just as provocative as Harrison Ford‘s and Carrie Fisher‘s in the film. Exchanges like this:
HAN: Hey, Your Worship, I’m only trying to help.
LEIA: Would you please stop calling me that?
HAN: Sure, Leia.
LEIA: Oh, you make it so difficult sometimes.
HAN: I do, I really do. You could be a little nicer, though. (he watches her reaction) Come on, admit it. Sometimes you think I’m all right.
LEIA: Occasionally (a little smile, haltingly) maybe…when you aren’t acting like a scoundrel.
HAN: (laughs) Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that. (takes her hand to massage it)
LEIA: Stop that.
HAN: Stop what?
LEIA: Stop that! My hands are dirty.
HAN: My hands are dirty, too. What are you afraid of?
LEIA: (looking right into his eyes) Afraid?
HAN: You’re trembling.
LEIA: I’m not trembling.
HAN: You like me because I’m a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.
LEIA: I happen to like nice men.
HAN: I’m a nice man.
LEIA: No, you’re not. You’re…
And then the direction is “He kisses her now, with slow, hot lips.” During a live read, actors are not expected to actually do any of the things as directed, outside of reading the words on the page. So earlier on, when Leia is supposed to lay one on Luke, Jessica did not actually kiss Aaron Paul, who read the legendary Skywalker. But the second time that Han and Leia were directed to kiss, a male voice in the audience yelled out, “DO IT!”
The crowd laughed, and Ellen and Jessica smiled, but Jason Reitman handled it perfectly: “This is too important a moment for that!” Meaning, sorry, dude in the crowd—this reading is not for your male gaze. In fact, the casting of Ellen Page in the Han Solo role made the reading much more feminist. While Princess Leia is a powerful force in the Star Wars universe, she’s also reliant on the help of men like Han and Luke Skywalker. Han Solo frequently refers to her as “sweetheart” and “your worship,” which is meant in a flirtatious manner, but spoken by a guy, can also be condescending. If Leia were working alongside a female Han Solo, the script would be much more female-friendly, especially as Leia is the only woman in The Empire Strikes Back. THE ONLY WOMAN. Which makes Jason Reitman’s casting of out lesbian actress Ellen Page in the role of Han Solo even more radical and inspired.
Really, there’s nothing that says “Han” can’t be a woman’s name.
Ellen Page will be taking on the part of Han Solo in director Jason Reitman’s live stage-reading of The Empire Strikes Back Thursday night, and Jessica Alba has been cast as Princess Leia—the royal revolutionary who thinks the smuggler is nothing but a “stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerfherder.”
Until, of course, she doesn’t.
The whole point of Reitman’s live-read series is to take classic scripts and turn them into something we’ve never seen before, but he tells EW that casting his Juno star as the sardonic captain of the Millennium Falcon felt as natural as it may seem surprising.
“The Han Solo character is fascinating in that the approach to every other character in Star Wars is earnest and kind of sweet and old-fashioned. The heroes are heroes, and the villains are villains. And within this world, we’re introduced to one human being who looks at it all with irony,” Reitman says, adding with a laugh: “He’s the guy who doesn’t give a crap.”
Without Solo, it would be very easy for viewers to look at Star Wars cynically, Reitman adds. “With him, we feel like we have an ally in this, and it allows the viewer to get closer to Luke and Leia,” he says. “In casting Han, the most important thing is: Who has the most interesting, ironic approach to life? And when I think of that, I think of Ellen Page. She’s a small human being who has the energy to fill Madison Square Garden.”
The Leia and Han relationship in The Empire Strikes Back is proof that opposites still attract, even in another galaxy.
“For Leia, I just wanted to find an actress who was beautiful and also had the ability to be tough and funny, and I’ve seen Alba do all of that. And I needed somebody who would have chemistry with Ellen,” Reitman says.
Alba is someone who can embody the true-believer aspect of the princess as contrast to the smuggler’s skepticism, be elegant when Han is coarse, and still bring a playfulness to their incessant sparing.
And that fact that their grudging romance will play out between two actresses …?
“Chemistry is chemistry, whether it be between a man and a woman, two women, or two men,” Reitman says. “I have no doubt that Ellen Page could have chemistry with anybody.”
The live-reads are about experimenting with perceptions and expectations, and encouraging fans to consider the story and characters in different ways — even if they’re only hearing about the performance from afar. (None have been recorded or shared. They are designed as one-night-only experiences.)
He has done versions of the all-white Reservoir Dogs with an entirely black cast (including Laurence Fishburne, Terrence Howard, and Cuba Gooding Jr.), and an all-female version of the testosterone-powered Glengarry Glen Ross (with Robin Wright, Catherine O’Hara, and Carla Gugino.)
In a reading of The Princess Bride, Reitman also cast Cary Elwes, once the hero Westley, as the villainous Humperdinck—while a now-grown Fred Savage replayed the same part he originated at age eight.
The performance of The Empire Strikes Back will take place Thursday night at the Ace Hotel Theater in downtown Los Angeles (moving to a larger venue from its previous home at LACMA.) Click here for full details/tickets for the show, which is hosted in partnership with Film Independent. Although the tickets are already sold out, there will be a stand-by list for fans who want to give it a try.
On Tuesday, Reitman announced the other members of the cast: Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker, Whiplash star J.K. Simmons as Darth Vader, Hello Ladies actor Stephen Merchant as C-3PO, Dennis Haysbert as Lando Calrissian, and Kevin Pollak as Yoda (and assorted others.)
Knowing the Live-Read series, there will also be a handful of surprises revealed as the show begins.
A new version of the Window Horses concept trailer has just been released and now includes the voices of Sandra Oh, Ellen Page, Shohreh Agdashloo, Houshang Touzie, Don McKellar and more!
This is an animation test that we’ve put into a trailer for you to give you an idea of the feel of the film, which now includes the voices of Sandra Oh, Ellen Page, Shohreh Agdashloo, Houshang Touzie, Don McKellar, and more! Please help us turn this into a feature-length film!
Ellen Page has joined the cast of Window Horses! Ellen will be voicing Kelly, Rosie Ming’s (Sandra Oh) best friend, who likes to talk A LOT!
The animated feature is written, directed and produced by Ann Marie Fleming. The film stars Oh as Rosie and Nancy Kwan. Oh also serves as executive producer.
It’s about love (it’s always about love…) – love of family, poetry, history, culture. Here’s the story: Rosie Ming, a young Canadian poet, is invited to perform at a Poetry Festival in Shiraz, Iran, but she’d rather be in Paris. She lives at home with her over-protective Chinese grandparents and has never been anywhere by herself. Once in Iran, she finds herself in the company of poets and Persians, all who tell her stories that force her to confront her past; the Iranian father she assumed abandoned her and the nature of Poetry itself. It’s about building bridges between cultural and generational divides. It’s about being curious. Staying open. And finding your own voice through the magic of poetry.
Rosie goes on an unwitting journey of forgiveness, reconciliation, and perhaps above all, understanding, through learning about her father’s past, her own cultural identity, and her responsibility to it.
This film is our small effort to try and add a little more peace, love and understanding to our increasingly complex and conflicted world through art, poetry, history and culture. Heady stuff!