It’s been a few years since the typical movie going audience has seen the likes of Ellen Page. In 2007, before it was deemed cool by the MTV demo, a pint-sized Page found herself as the face of teen pregnancy through the awkward, rambling voice of beloved Juno MacGuff. Since Juno, she’s smartly took a step back from taking on more of the same awe-shucks characters she could have churned out well into her early thirties. While mainstream audiences weren’t looking, Page has matured past her days of hamburger phones, and sarcastic quips, to become a promising presence on the screen in independent cinema.
In her latest film The East, her versatility shows as she plays her most complex role yet. Wrapped inside of a freegan collective, Page plays Izzy, a 20-something anarchist who takes the “eye for an eye” saying to a whole new level. Page’s Izzy is just one member in a large collective of eco-terrorists that inflicts suffering on leaders in corporations for committing crimes against the environment and its people.
Perhaps playing the most sympathetic character, a pint-sized Page has effortlessly reinvented herself on the screen as a strong thespian. For the same reason she earned critical recognition in her earlier work in Hard Candy, she has found that hard edge again as an environmentalist who’s both strong in her convictions and vulnerable in the way she presents them throughout the film.
The Inquisitr’sNiki Cruz sat down with Ellen Page to speak about her new film The East.
THE INQUISITR: The director Zal [Batmanglij] and co-writer Brit Marling lived this freegan lifestyle for awhile. How much did that spill over onto the set in real life?
ELLEN PAGE: We had anarchists come up to live with us from New Orleans. They were in the group playing themselves. The people who you’ll see but don’t actually speak are actually those people. They’re glorified extras and they’re very much apart of the group.
THE INQUISITR: Your character has this non-conformer be cast out type of attitude. Can you tell the readers about your perspective of these collectives?
PAGE: I think a lot of the time in groups like this or environments that I’ve been around, the lifestyle itself is what people really believe in. They believe in living, and creating no waste, and taking accountability for all of their actions. Of course it creates this conformist aesthetic but I think it’s a true deep belief.
THE INQUISITR: Where do you think your character comes from within the group?
PAGE: Obviously she went through a huge shift as I think a lot of people do who sort of wind up in these sort of atmospheres and philosophy of thinking. I think hers comes from profound guilt and anger, and that becomes externalized.
THE INQUISITR: How do you think she justifies what she does to these people during the jams?
PAGE: I don’t think that ever takes away the validity of witnessing the atrocities and then wanting to do something about it. There’s a lot of validity in what Izzy is angry at. Yes, a lot of it is interpersonal and internal, and an emotional connection to it, but I think as a human being you can’t separate that.
THE INQUISITR: Have you heard of Brit [Marling’s] work before taking on this project?
PAGE: Yeah I was a huge fan of Sound Of My Voice, and what Zal [Batmanglij] had done with that. Brit’s performance in that alongside her performance in Another Earth was astounding. To know the story of how her and Zal entered this business in the industry was incredibly inspiring. I love their work, and the moment you meet them, their passion, and their creative intent, and their purpose for telling stories is palpable and it’s infectious. I wanted to be involved with their body of work.
THE INQUISITR: What was it like shooting in that mansion?
PAGE: We shot in two different houses. It was gorgeous what they had done. There was another house where we shot the dance and Izzy’s room. The work and art decoration was gorgeous.
THE INQUISITR: At first your character is extremely hesitant towards Sarah [Brit Marling]. How do you think she accepted her?
PAGE: Izzy at first is extremely confused and reluctant. She’s just like, “Who the hell is this girl and why are we letting her be here?” Then when it comes to the moment that they need someone to help them in an extremely intense operation that would have really intense consequences had they been caught, and she not only volunteers to do it, she does it with great success. That allows them to pull off the jam at the pharmaceutical company. She’s won over by her.
THE INQUISITR: Do you think there’s an emotional attachment to Sarah?
PAGE: I don’t know how emotional it is. I think it’s emotional in the sense that people have said that they would step up to the plate and have let them down. She says, “People act like they’re committed but when it comes to breaking the law they won’t follow through with it.” To have her show up and be so committed and follow through with it for the cause, is an attachment, because obviously she has an incredible emotional attachment to that, and that’s what she cares about the most.
THE INQUISITR: What would your character say about someone like Erin Brockovich?
PAGE: I think Izzy is pretty angry and militant. I think she thinks that people should take it to the next level. She does believe in a level of “eye for an eye” justice.
Check out the trailer for The East below:
THE EAST HITS THEATERS ON MAY 31.