If you can believe it, Juno will be 10 years old in December. The independent film about a Minnesota high schooler's unwanted pregnancy made a star of Canadian actress and activist Ellen Page, who played the titular, wry-humored Juno. The film was widely lauded for Diablo Cody's whip-smart, pensive and progressive screenplay, which would go on to win an Academy Award. A decade later, the story of a girl who considers her options, goes to an abortion clinic, then ultimately chooses to go through with the pregnancy and give her baby up for adoption to a couple she finds in a Pennysaver ad (played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) is particularly relevant in our current political climate. At the time, pro-life camps claimed the movie represented their standing, but clearly the film remains staunchly pro-choice. “Of course it's pro-choice,” Page says by phone. “Juno had a choice. She went to an abortion clinic, she explored that option.”
Realizing that the film was due a 10-year anniversary celebration, director Jason Reitman called upon Page and Garner to participate in his Live Read series. This Saturday at the Ace Hotel in DTLA, both actors, together with an all-female lineup of performers who weren't in the film, will read the script in front of a live audience. Proceeds go to Planned Parenthood. “I couldn't be more excited about Saturday,” Page says. “It means a lot to me.”
Can you believe it's been 10 years since Juno came out?
Yes and no, you know? It's shocking to think that was now a decade ago and I can say that I'm 30 now. At the same time I feel like a lot's happened.
Last time we spoke, you said that it had been years since you last watched Juno. Have you rewatched it ahead of this weekend?
No, but I'm planning to. I have to remind myself how I was talking and what I was doing. I need to get back in the feel.
Are you going to show up in character on Saturday? Will you be dressed as Juno?
I mean, I'd say the way I dress isn't that different from Juno, to be honest, haha. I'll go as myself, which isn't that far from Juno.
Has there been a rehearsal so far?
There's no rehearsal. That's what makes it so special. I've done two live readings before with Jason [Stand by Me and The Empire Strikes Back] and I always watch the movie the night before. A lot of people you're reading with are actors reading it for the first time, and you all suss it out together. Getting in the flow is such a special experience. There's nothing else in my job that offers that.
Are there any scenes that you're particularly anticipating revisiting?
I don't know if there's something specific. What it really comes down is taking it back to the very first time I ever read the screenplay that Diablo wrote. I was just utterly blown away and taken in: “Holy shit! This is so phenomenal and unique and I have to play this girl.” That feeling of excitement, laughter, tears. … I'm excited about celebrating this beautiful thing she wrote. It still moves a lot of people.
Juno fits perfectly with the messaging around saving Planned Parenthood at the moment, right?
Yeah. For women, LGBTQ people, low-income people, what have you, human beings not having access to health care is getting in the way of progress. It's really terrifying. It does seem like everybody's coming together for all these fundraisers to support Planned Parenthood and all the work that they do.
As someone who grew up in Canada, do you find the idea of Planned Parenthood quite novel?
Yeah. In Canada I didn't grow up with this sort of debate. For me personally, Planned Parenthood is just about people having access to life-saving health care, whether it's about trying to get an abortion or Pap smears, or it's a trans woman seeking health care or a low-income person, it's pivotal and important. It's just that simple. To deny people's rights is horrific. Imagine all the queer people who are already suffering who can lose access to health care. It's just life or death. That's the reality.
Many men and women are taking a stand for women's rights in the United States due to an encroaching fear of the erosion of those rights in the age of Trump …
I don't know how anyone could not fear that right now. Women are being attacked. There are attacks against trans people, attacks against immigrants, and so there has to be fear. People are scared because they're being ripped out of their homes away from their children, they're losing access to health care. These are people who are already marginalized individuals and even more vulnerable. It's important for us to all be able to tap into that fear. We have to figure out how to be there for each other and help those who are more vulnerable than us.
For years you've balanced your role as an actress and an activist, particularly with your Viceland series Gaycation. What's next for that series?
The plan is to continue with Gaycation but it's going to change a bit, get more micro and nuanced and tell different stories. I'm hoping to expand it, potentially bring in new people to host so it's not always me on the camera. We want to figure out a way to make it more diverse in terms of where it can be viewed.
And beyond Gaycation?
I'm always trying to make LGBTQ stories, quite frankly, movies that include more queerness. I have a film in post now that's a love story between two women [titled Mercy]. I'm always trying to figure out things I can develop that incorporate more visibility. Selfishly I enjoy it, too.