Cineplex Magazine (May 2014) – Page 43
Kitty Pryde plays a key role in Chris Claremont’s “Days of Future Past” storyline, the Marvel Comics arc on which this month’s X-Men film is based. But Ellen Page, who first played the mutant in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, and returns for this month’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, didn’t know that. Her reading list tends toward volumes of eco-science and critiques of Western materialism, not comic books.
“I played Kitty when I was 18, and then to have this comeback was awesome. I didn’t expect it,” she says. “To be able to bring something to life that has such a massive fan base and has existed for so long.” The new film sees Kitty use her phasing power to send Wolverine’s mind back to his 1970s body, changing history and, with luck, averting the apocalypse. In the comic books it is Kitty who travels through time, and although it’s been changed to Wolverine for the film, he can’t do it without her help.
Page sees the entire franchise not as a generic thrill ride, but a parable wrapped in immense visual spectacle.
“X-Men has such metaphorical importance,” she says. “A lot of people feel like outcasts, you know? And we feel like we have our imperfections and our issues. It explores something that a lot of people feel internally, the struggle to accept yourself and accept the things that make you who you are, being brave enough to be who you are in this world and have a voice.”
It almost sounds as if Page is talking about herself. Not long after our chat she announced she’s gay during a conference for LGBTQ teens in Las Vegas. Page told the crowd she was finally coming out “because I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission.”
In conversation, Page’s tone alternates between genial, nerdy pedagogy and punky mischief. As followers of her outspoken Twitter feed know, she’s determined to use her star power as a resource for social change.
She also shuns clichéd “girl roles” she considers sexist. “As a woman and an actor something I’ve always strived for is to play roles that offer a different perspective of what a young woman can be,” she says.
Though she stars in stunt-driven blockbusters as well as Sundance type indies, celebrity is one role she’s not interested in playing.
She became a star at 20 for her witty, touching turn as a pregnant teen in Juno, a performance that earned Page a Best Actress Oscar nomination and made her a fixture on the glittering awards season circuit.
But when the race ended she turned her back on Hollywood’s paparazzi culture and returned to the land, getting her hands seriously dirty at the Lost Valley Education and Event Centre outside Eugene, Oregon, where she studied sustainable design. Weeks spent shovelling goat manure into pushcarts and harvesting her urine as compost fertilizer was exactly the break she needed.
She still favours down-market duds, loathes shopping, rides the streetcar in Toronto and hangs out in L.A. bookstores.
And, while she’s drawn to movies about “people who decide to devote themselves to this mission of achieving justice,” Page says, “I don’t believe in eye-for-an-eye. The most incredible, sustainable, beautiful movements have been non-violent movements of civil disobedience.”
Page’s next battle with injustice is the gay-rights drama Freeheld, which stars Julianne Moore as her lover, and starts filming later this year in September in New York.