The film -- marking the debut of screenwriter Diablo Cody and a follow-up to "Thank You for Smoking" from director Jason Reitman -- tells the story of a pregnant 16-year-old with easygoing sass and a big heart. Much of the film's power comes from the performance in the title role of 20-year-old Canadian actress Ellen Page.
With her uncanny combination of world-weary cynicism and wide-open wistfulness, an unlikely mix of snark and innocence, Page's teenaged and pregnant Juno feels like a near-definitive portrait of contemporary youth in transition, as adolescent abandon gives way to a nascent maturity.
Page recently called in from her home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The siren song of such media towns as Toronto, New York or Los Angeles might seem like a natural next step, but for now, she says, she's staying put.
"As things progress, it actually gets easier for me to be here. It kind of allows me the distance," she remarked. With the unexpected awards buzz building for "Juno," she'll probably soon seem closer than ever.
Here, she opens up about a lack of authentic portrayals of girls in the media and turning from darker fare to something a little lighter.
So far audiences are having a really explosive response to "Juno." Why do you think people are reacting so strongly?
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I think it's unique. I think it's extremely genuine and honest and devoid of any stereotype.
And it is, compared to other work I've done, a quote-unquote lighter film. Yet to me, I remember when I read it for the first time, it was just like a breath of fresh air.
It was so nice to read something that felt so sincere. And a character had been written for 16-year-old girls that was showing a lot more interesting aspects than what we're used to in popular media right now. That was very exciting.
I don't want to ask "Did you see yourself in the character of Juno," but did you feel the script portrayed a teenage experience that was perhaps more recognizable to you, not one of makeup and slumber parties and a "Princess Diaries"-style fantasy?
Yeah. And no judgment towards that -- that could be a lot of individuals' idea of their teenage years.
But I suppose it occurs so much, constantly, that we forget there's other aspects. So sometimes when there's a character like that, or even Haley in "Hard Candy," there's this, 'Oh, it's so unrealistic. That's not a teenage girl.' And that becomes so frustrating.
I was like Juno when I was younger in certain ways, as were my friends. Sixteen-year-old girls do wear sweater vests and flannel shirts, and that's OK.
It's so annoying when you're constantly being told what you're supposed to enjoy and what you're supposed to find sexy and how you're supposed to be, and so on and so forth.
I think a film like "Juno," when it steps away from what's so traditional in the media right now, I think it's just refreshing for people. And maybe they don't even know why -- it could be inexplicable, just this feeling of 'Oh, thank you.' At least it was for me when I read it.
There is a real specificity to the script, in particular, the nature of the language and the dialogue. That could have come off as overly stylized, and part of what's really remarkable about the film, and particularly your performance, is how that's made to seem so natural. How did the language strike you when you read the script?
I loved it. To me it completely worked. And it might not be exactly how I talked when I was 16, but I know that when I was in high school I did kind of have my own unique language with my friends. The way I communicated with my friends was not exactly the same as how I communicated with my parents or how I communicated in a work setting.