Ellen Page knows she’s not the biggest girl in the world. In fact, she’s downright diminutive. But her size didn’t cause her to second-guess taking on the lead in Whip It, about a young woman discovering the joys of the rough and tumble sport of roller derby.
“I know I’m a tiny little thing,” the Halifax native says. “I’ve always been a tiny thing, and I’ve always played sports, and it’s never anything that made me hesitate. If anything, it made me more aggressive.” And actually, she points out, her size is an advantage for being a jammer, the position in roller derby that has to fly past all the other players to score. (It’s all explained in detail in the film.) “You can weave in and out of people,” she says.
Page found it easy to connect to Bliss, the small-town Texas teen trying to break free of her pageant-loving mom’s grip when she discovers the rough-and-tumble world of roller derby. “I’m playing someone who’s found something that ignites a passionate fire within them, and that feeling is amazing,” she explains. “I always played sports as a kid and loved it. I played soccer really competitively. And then I got paid to throw my body and my mind into something. I loved roller derby, so I was having a blast.”
Whip It marks Page’s first starring role since her Oscar-nominated turn in 2007’s Juno. And there’s a reason audiences haven’t seen much of her. “After Juno, I decided to take a year off and went backpacking through eastern Europe with my friend and went camping in Newfoundland,” Page says.
Luckily, her representatives understood. “If anything, they want me to work less than more,” she insists. “They want quality over quantity. And if I do something I don’t care about, I’m going to suck.”
By that rationale, her work in Christopher Nolan’s Inception will most certainly not suck, if Page’s enthusiasm is any gauge.
“I’m having such a good time,” she says of the super-secret project she’s currently filming with Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. “I’m so happy that it’s so secretive. We just constantly reflect on what we’re doing, and we’re all so excited to be a part of it.”
But she saves her highest praise for Nolan himself. “I adore him. He’s such an amazing filmmaker, and it’s an honour to be in one of his films,” she says of the Dark Knight director.