There are some actresses -- Linda Hamilton or Angela Bassett, for example -- who immediately convey a powerhouse vibe. Ellen Page, just past her 19th birthday, hovering around five-feet-tall, does not.
This spring, though, the young Canadian actress is kicking butt in two different contexts -- as a calculating avenging angel in the indie "Hard Candy" and as a gifted mutant in "X-Men: The Last Stand."
"It's different and you have to understand that it's different. You have to look at it with a different perspective and know that one, yeah, it's a little more action-orientated and the other is not so much," says Page, asked to compare her two breakout roles. "So in 'X-Men,' yeah, I wear a leather suit and run through explosions. Who gets to do that? It's fun and I'm grateful for it. I don't know. It's just about changing your perspective and it's cool to do something that's the complete opposite or something that you never thought you'd be doing. It's kind of the only reason to do it."
In "X-Men: The Last Stand," Page plays Kitty Pryde, also known as Shadowcat, one of many mutant additions to Brett Ratner's sequel. In Marvel lore, Shadowcat is known for her ability to "phase" through solid objects, passing amidst walls and people. The part was linked to many actresses, which makes it surprising that Page didn't go in active pursuit of the role.
"I didn't actually," Page admits. "I actually hadn't worked in ages. After 'Hard Candy' I took the year off and went back to Halifax where I'm from and graduated from a wicked high school called Shambhala and had a great year of just chillaxin' and being myself and... was like being a ridiculous teenager and then ended up getting the call."
Although Ratner, who saw an early cut of "Hard Candy," sought Page out for his film, she -- like some many of the film's myriad mutants -- doesn't have a clue how much she'll actually appear in the final product.
"That's a good question," she says. "I actually haven't seen the movie so as far as I know, I have no idea what just happened in the edit. Kitty's involved more and has a bit of a subplot with a certain other mutant and we'll see. It's all fun. I get to fight in the end."
After years of keeping a low profile with small films and Canadian television projects, Page has begun to sense the buzz building around her despite appearing for mere seconds in the "X-Men" trailer.
"It's really crazy to think that it's happening already, but it is and it's really freaky," she observes. "I was on like the streetcar in Toronto and someone came up to me. And then I was in a Borders in LA and it just -- yeah, it blows my mind, but I don't know, I'm not going to change because of it. I don't think I'm cool because I'm an actor. If anything, it makes me more self-deprecating."
"Hard Candy" is now in limited release. "X-Men: The Last Stand" goes nationwide on Friday, May 26.