The world became aware of the acting talents of Ellen Page in a big way in 2007, when the indie comedy-drama Juno came out of nowhere and racked up hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. The film even won an Academy Award for best original screenplay, as well as nominations for best picture, best actress in a leading role, and best director. Clearly there was a little magic on the set of Juno, which charmed its way into the canon of film history.

Although Page had acted in films before, this was the first time she starred in a film that went totally viral. After that, pretty much everyone knew who she was, with her slight build, unique voice, and deeply soulful eyes. Since then, her career has continued on the trajectory of success, taking her all over the world while doing so. But who was she before all the fame? And how has she changed over time? Read on to get all of the deets about the stunning transformation of Ellen Page.

Growing up in Nova Scotia

You may be surprised to learn that Page wasn’t born and raised in the States. Indeed she wasn’t, because Page hails from our neighbor the north — that’s right, she’s Canadian! The child of a French teacher and a graphic designer, Page grew up in Halifax, in the maritime province of Nova Scotia, not too far from Maine. Halifax is fairly remote, so Page enjoyed a relatively independent childhood, playing soccer, riding her bike, and swimming in a lake. “You’re just surrounded by so much beauty and stillness,” she says of her hometown, according to The Guardian. That sounds super idyllic!

Born in 1987, Page’s parents divorced when she was very young, so she shuffled back and forth between their houses for two weeks at a time. Additionally, her mother had family in Toronto, so Page got to see the big city when she went to visit them. On one trip she saw the musical The Phantom of the Opera, and fell in love with it. She asked her mother what school she would need to attend in order to play Christine, to which she told her college. Thus the acting bug was planted.

She was working by the age of 10

Page didn’t wait for university to start acting. Instead, she joined her school’s drama club, and was one day selected by a casting director to appear in Pit Pony in 1997, first a TV movie and later a series. “It’s just mind-boggling, what I do now. I sometimes think, what if I was sick that day the casting guy came into school?” she wondered in an interview with The Guardian. Clearly that little bit of luck went a long way.

After that she was off and running, appearing in more Canadian films and television shows, and even a European movie. And because her parents were both in the workforce full-time, Page learned how to be an independent child. She wasn’t supposed to be unaccompanied on set, so whoever could fill the role of guardian would. “We’d finagle it so, say, the horse-wrangler’s daughter was my chaperone,” she continued.

When she turned sweet 16, Page moved to Toronto to pursue acting in the big city. But soon after, she had to move to Southern California for her first American film. She was on her way up!

Breaking out in Hard Candy

If you’re not familiar with the plot of the 2005 film Hard Candy, prepare yourself because it’s super serious: it’s about a young girl who kidnaps a man she believes to be a pedophile, and tortures him. Page played the starring role in the film at the tender age of 16, with the blessing of her parents. “Yeah, Hard Candy was intense. My dad came with me to do that,” she shared in an interview with The Guardian. “But they were always cool with the subject matter, they trusted me.” She really must have known that acting was her destiny, and it must have showed.

The movie is not for sensitive viewers, as some of the content is rather graphic. “I remember getting ready for those scenes, I was 16, and I was almost separate from myself: shocked by it, and curious, and excited,” she continued. “It was a very exhilarating feeling, and very addictive.” Page was nominated for a slew of awards for the film, and took home a win from the Austin Film Critics Association for Best Actress. But what came next was way bigger.

Stealing hearts in Juno

Within moments of reading the script of the 2007 film Juno, Page knew she wanted to cinch the eponymous role. “When I read the script it just blew my mind and I fell totally in love with it and I just really wanted to be a part of it,” she recalled in an interview with Collider. It was a match made in heaven from the start, clearly.

Juno’s character was appealing to Page for a variety of reasons, mainly, though, because of her realness. “I was excited about this character because I felt like it was a teenage female lead that we’ve just never seen before,” she continued. “Although she was incredibly unique and witty and all of these things, she was also very genuine and it all felt just very sincere.” No wonder Page was the perfect person for the part.

Juno was a massive box office success, catapulting Page directly into the spotlight. She had truly arrived as an actress.

Stepping out of the limelight… for a moment

Page’s first project after Juno was Whip It in 2009, a movie about a teenager in Texas who find solace in her roller derby league, directed by Drew Barrymore. But after that, Page needed a little bit of space, so she left the hustle and bustle and headed to Oregon where she spent a month at an eco-village. There she spent her time studying permaculture, safely tucked away from the bright lights of Hollywood. “We created giant composts,” she shared in an interview with The Guardian. “We’d pee in a bucket with hay in it, then put the pee buckets on the compost.” Sounds hella rustic.

Although Page started her month there among total strangers, she felt very bonded to the people there when she left. “When I left and everyone in the class was holding hands in a circle, I was fully sobbing,” she continued. “One of those kinds of cries where you’re just… I would not have anticipated that’s what my response would have been.” So she found what she had been looking for when she arrived.

Page also met her now-BFF Ian Daniel there, who she describes as her “soul twin.” Awwww!

Living the dream in Inception

Newly healed from her time away, Page jumped right back into acting with a bang. This time, it was for a truly major film, alongside acting heavyweight Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2010 film Inception. “I was looking around, and the idea of this film came up and I was absolutely excited to learn more,” she recalled in an interview with Time magazine. “So I went into an office at Warner Bros. to read the script, and it was just one of those moments where you are absolutely floored.” We can totally see why, given how imaginative the movie was.

Page had nothing but good things to say about working with DiCaprio, who she had long admired, as well as the director, Chris Nolan. “I’m just constantly blown away by all his films,” she continued. “Despite the visual magnitude, and all the incredible action, there’s this incredibly sincere base and this honesty that everything is centered around.” That had to be an amazing experience.

Returning to the X-[Wo]Men set

After a busy year on set in 2011 and 2012, Page returned to the set of X-Men in 2013 to reprise the role of Kitty Pryde in X-Men: Days of Future Past. And despite the fact that the character is beloved by comic fans everywhere, Page was not familiar with her when she took the role the first time around, back in 2006 — when she was just 18. “I’m going to be perfectly honest,” she confessed in an interview with Collider. “I was never really into comic books as a kid. So when the first X-Men popped up it was awesome because that was the first time I read about Kitty Pryde, and thought she was awesome.” No doubt she’s super familiar with the character now.

Page was surprised to learn that they wanted her to appear in the film, as it was not on her radar. “I didn’t expect to play Kitty Pryde again, so when that came up… it was just awesome,” she continued. “I feel so grateful to be back.” We can imagine, given what a star-studded affair the film was.

She came out in a big way

In 2014, Page did an incredibly brave thing: she came out as a lesbian in an absolutely riveting speech at the Human Rights Campaign. In it, she called out the toxic culture that marginalizes LGBTQ+ people, and implored everyone to do better, and to be better. Then she took a breath, and spoke her truth to the room. “And I am here today because I am gay,” she announced, as the crowd cheered and rose to its feet. “And because maybe I can make a difference.” Someone is definitely cutting onions in here.

After the speech, Page appeared — where else — on The Ellen Show to talk about what the experience was like — which she said was the most nerve-wracking thing she’d ever done. “I was just so ready to do it, and quite frankly so excited to do it, so it was a combination of just such thrill to finally be at that place in my life where I was able to do that,” she revealed in the interview. She also told Ellen how grateful she was for her and everything she’s done for LGBTQ+ people. Yas Queen!

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