The stunning transformation of Ellen Page

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!

Going on a Gaycation

On heels of coming out to the world, Page next embarked on a project with Ian Daniel that took the both of them around the world. The pair starred in the documentary series Gaycation for Viceland in 2016 and 2017, with the goal of shedding light on the experience of LGBTQ+ people everywhere. "We wanted to give a voice to those who don't always get to share their perspective or what they're going through," Page explained in an interview with The Daily Beast. "I think a lot of people just don't understand the difficulties a lot of people face in the community — including in America still, despite all the incredible progress." That's a bold and noble mission. 

The duo met all kinds of people in all kinds of places, from a young boy coming out to his mother in Japan, to a cop who is also sometimes a contracted hitman who targets gay people in Brazil — the latter of which got Page thinking not about herself, but others. "For the most part you're thinking not about yourself, but those who are living in that community who are potentially at risk of that happening every day," she continued. What a crazy experience.

She made a brave and sobering #metoo post

When the #MeToo movement kicked into high gear in 2017, women everywhere were sharing their stories about sexual abuse and harassment — and finally being widely believed. Page was one of those voices, as she took to Facebook to discuss the harassment she endured in Hollywood from men. It ranged from directors saying terrible things to her to grips sexually assaulting her, all before she was even 18-years-old. "I want to see these men have to face what they have done," she wrote in the post, referring to all of the abusers in Hollywood. "I want them to not have power anymore." Amen, sister!

She also, in true Page fashion, called on everyone to be accountable for their actions, and to pledge to do better. "What I want the most, is for this to result in healing for the victims. For Hollywood to wake up and start taking some responsibility for how we all have played a role in this," she continued. "I want us to reflect on this endemic issue and how this power dynamic of abuse leads to an enormous amount of suffering." Those are some seriously wise words.

Marrying the woman of her dreams

The year 2018 brought some serious sweetness into Page's life, as she married Emma Portner, which she announced in a post on her Instagram page. "Can't believe I get to call this extraordinary woman my wife," she wrote in the caption. Congrats, you two lovebirds!

Page is clearly smitten by Portner, a dancer from Canada, as she posts cute selfies of the two of them on the reg. But Portner is also super in love with Page, and isn't the least bit shy about the fact that they're super attached. "She and I have an indefatigable connection and this undying desire to be near each other," she confessed in an interview with Them. "Ellen is the best, and I still cry every time we part ways for work. I probably will forever, and I'm okay with that." That is so unbelievably wholesome and sweet, and we are 100 percent here for all of it. No wonder Page is glowing like crazy!

What would she tell her younger self?

Page has been totally candid about the difficulties of working in the entertainment business on more than one occasion. "I mean, I've worked in this industry for a while, you know, I grew up in Canada, I started working at 10… and in terms of the level of misogyny and homophobia I've dealt with it's been really unfortunate," she explained in a 2019 interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. That is indeed unfortunate, and it's heartening that things are starting to change in the era of #MeToo.

To that end, when Colbert asked her what advice or words of wisdom she would give to her younger self, she had a powerful answer. "I'd give her a hug, and I would tell her she's not alone, and that she can reach out to people, and that behavior is not okay," she continued. If there's a more succinct way to sum it up, we're not aware of it. Keep speaking truth to power, Ellen!

Entering the Umbrella Academy

In February 2019, Netflix dropped a new series on its site called The Umbrella Academy, adapted from the comics published by Dark Horse. The show has quite the cast, starring big names like Mary J. Blige, Tom Hopper and Colm Feore, and follows the exploits of a dysfunctional family of siblings with super powers. What a wild ride!

Page was cast in the part of Vanya Hargreeves, a violin player and the only sibling without super powers, a role she really identifies with. "I was immediately intrigued by Vanya because I immediately related to that feeling of folding in on yourself, struggling with depression and anxiety, barely feeling like you can take up any space in the room and what it took to get out of that, in my experience," she revealed in an interview with Glamour. "I had my own stuff to deal with and I related to Vanya, her pain and I wanted to explore that." That sounds super intense.

The show was renewed for a second season, according to Variety, so it must be doing quite well.

Her activism remains on fire

Page is no longer the same young woman she was when Juno had everybody talking, as she's truly come into her own as the years have gone by. She's a queer icon, an environmental activist, and a vocal critic of those who are hostile to LGBTQ+ and other marginalized people. This was abundantly clear in her 2019 interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, in which she barely mentioned the reason she was there (The Umbrella Academy). 

Instead, Page took her time on the show to criticize the Trump administration and its policies. "Connect the dots," she implored in the interview. "If you are in a position of power and you hate people, and you want to cause suffering to them — you go through the trouble, you spend your career trying to cause suffering — what do you think is going to happen? Kids are going to be abused and they're going to kill themselves, and people are going to be beaten on the street." That just shows that Page's activism is more on fire than ever, and that she will not be stopped.