In the years since she was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Juno, she has worked with directors Christopher Nolan, Woody Allen and Drew Barrymore, but Touchy Feely filmmaker Lynn Shelton asked her to do something she hasn’t done since her teens working in her hometown of Halifax—improvisation.
“I had done nothing remotely like improv since Trailer Park Boys,” she says.
“It was an intriguing challenge for me because it was completely stepping out of my comfort zone. There were some scenes she had written where she’d be pushing us to improvise because that’s what she likes, and I’d be like, ‘Lynne, the scene is great. I’m not going to improve on this, believe me.’”
The movie focuses on three relatives, a massage therapist with an aversion to touch, her dentist brother and Jenny, a character Page describes as having an “incredibly quiet, self contained, deep, deep sadness and fear and unwillingness to move forward in life.”
Page breathes life into the character and says she was “completely intrigued with her journey as a person” but what really keeps her going is trying new things.
“It’s funny because after certain things happen in your career and things change and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera there is definitely a mind set that tries to get put on you about the next move,” she says.
“I get all that but what is hands down the most important thing for me is that I feel inspired and serious and passionate and continue to feel ambitious.”
With a variety of projects in the works—including the Beyond: Two Souls video game and X-Men: Days of Future Past—Page is keeping it interesting by staying varied.
“I get paid to explore all kinds of things and it always feeds you in a way that is incredible. Any job I do I try and do everything I can to grow as an actor. I love what I do so I’m always trying to get better at it, always learn more from all of the amazing people I work with. The ability to get to go to work and feel so deeply—deep sadness, deep pain, joy, anger and feel that flow through you. To get to do that as your job is pretty incredible.”
People treat Canadian movies as a serious subject. The mere mention of Great White Northern film conjures up images of dysfunctional family dramas, stark Arctic vistas or bumbling Mounties.
Writer Kathryn Monk summed it up nicely when she wrote a history of Can Con cinema called Weird Sex and Snowshoes. The title of her excellent book puts into words what many people perceive as the state of our homegrown film industry.
We may do our fair share of serious, introspective movies but between moments of navel gazing we also make movies that make people laugh, as we’ll see in this weekend’s Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day.
Years before the Trailer Park Boys brought their own brand of East Coast, humour to the big screen another troupe of comedians from the right hand side of the country created The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood.
It’s a surreal comedy starring CODCO’s Andy Jones as a provincial department of education clerk who fantasizes about becoming president of People’s Republic of Newfoundland and seceding from Canada.
The film, which was the first movie produced entirely in Newfoundland with home-based cast, crew, and funding, is a little inconsistent in tone — it was shot over a 10 year span as money was raised little by little — but is a riot of sight gags and unconventional humour.
Better known is Les Boys, a 1997 Quebec-made comedy that forms the cornerstone of the most successful Quebec made film series of all time. The story, which echoes Slap Shot with a touch of Mystery, Alaska thrown in, sees a ragtag group of amateur hockey players squaring off against a Mafia boss’s team to win back ownership of their coach’s bar. It’s raunchy formulaic fun that has spawned two successful sequels and a television series.
Our final Canadian comedy found inspiration from an unlikely source. Strange Brew, the Bob and Doug McKenzie (Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis) film about something rotten at the Elsinore Brewery, is loosely based on Hamlet, with the McKenzie Brothers taking the roles of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Also, according to hoser Bob it was “shot in 3B — three beers! — and it looks good, eh?”
For all the great films we’ve made in this country Saturday Night Live czar Lorne Michaels jokes a Canadian would never make a film called It’s a Wonderful Life because “that would be bragging.” He says the Canadian version would be called It’s an All Right Life. Sounds like the next great Canadian comedy to me.