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Ellen Page Talks Juno Soundtrack, Kimya Dawson

by Dave Maher on Wed: 11-21-07: 03:00 PM


As the titular character in upcoming indie-friendly comedy Juno, Ellen Page plays another smart young woman in a line of smart-young-woman roles for her. Except this time, instead of a child abuse victim or a pedophile-torturer, she's an overwhelmed high schooler facing her unplanned pregnancy by a guy named Bleeker, played by the hilarious Michael Cera ("Arrested Development", Superbad).

As an indie-friendly comedy, Juno has a soundtrack comprised of tunes by the Kinks, Belle & Sebastian, Sonic Youth, Cat Power, Mott the Hoople, and Kimya Dawson in various guises (solo and as part of the Moldy Peaches and Antsy Pants).

Page had a hand in selecting Dawson's music for a good chunk of the movie's soundtrack, which Rhino will release digitally on December 11 and physically on January 15. Juno itself hits select theaters on December 5, so we caught up with Page by phone to talk about matters of music and movies.

Pitchfork: Is it true that you chose a lot of the Kimya Dawson songs on the soundtrack yourself?

Ellen Page: [Juno director] Jason Reitman and I were meeting for maybe the second or third time and he simply said, "Well, what do you think Juno would listen to?" Immediately I said the Moldy Peaches, and he, I guess, wasn't familiar with their work, so I hopped on his computer and I played the Moldy Peaches for him. The next thing I knew he'd fallen in love-- rightfully so, they're awesome-- and he was in contact with Kimya Dawson, who is the female in the band, and he added the song at the end of the film, which is a Moldy Peaches song. That song's been in my life for years, actually; there's a lot of sentimental value there. And the next thing we know Kimya Dawson is doing the music for the film. It was really incredible how that all worked out because it just feels perfect.

Pitchfork: What about Kimya Dawson and the Moldy Peaches makes you think Juno would listen to them?

EP: Well the Moldy Peaches' music is very humorous. I mean, it has a hint of novelty, but it is full of so much heart and so much simplicity and it's so genuine. It's really unique and it's quirky and all of those things, but it has heart to balance that. And that's one of the reasons why I always loved their music. I loved how it was just bare-boned, and I feel like that is similar to Juno, the film in general and the character. She has a sarcastic wit that she hides behind, but she's also just an extremely genuine, honest, says-what-she-thinks human being, and I feel the film's like that as well. It has that tone.

Pitchfork: Another thing about the Moldy Peaches' music is that it's really wordy, and I'm wondering how that fits underneath or around the movie's dialogue. Do all the Kimya/Moldy Peaches songs play during silent or transitional scenes?

EP: Well when she's vocalizing in the film, when the Moldy Peaches are present...it fits. It completely works, in my opinion, and there are moments where it blends perfectly with the situation.

Pitchfork: Is it ever presented from within the film where Juno is listening to these songs herself?

EP: No, but in the film Michael [Cera] and I play a song together. Both of us are playing the guitar and singing, and it's a Moldy Peaches song.

Pitchfork: What was it like working with him?

EP: Oh, awesome. He is ridiculously talented. He is so good in this film, and he's just the sweetest, most genuine, lovely-- I feel incredibly lucky, not just to have just worked with him, but to now have him in my life. He's a really wonderful guy.

Pitchfork: He did a web-based TV show with his friend Clark Duke, and they had British Sea Power and Beulah songs play during the credits, so it seems like he's sort of a music geek too. Did you get to nerd out over any music stuff with him?

EP: Yeah, we did. We're both very passionate about music. He's a far better guitarist than I am, and he's always got something going on with music. So yeah, there was definitely some geeking out.

Pitchfork: Did you guys bond over anything in particular?

EP: The Microphones. Michael bought me a Microphones album.

Pitchfork: When did you first hear the Moldy Peaches?

EP: I first heard the Moldy Peaches probably when I was... I'm gonna say 15. I was just always a big fan, and I remember-- I didn't know, but Michael and I were sitting in a room practicing playing the song right before we were about to shoot the final scene. And it turned out Kimya was in another room listening and she kind of just came in, and we were introduced to her and she gave us a big hug. She's just one of the most beautiful human beings I've ever met. She was just so unbelievably genuinely awesome I can't even begin to tell you.

Pitchfork: Were you nervous to meet her at all?

EP: Totally. I don't get star-struck, really, with people that much, but I do with musicians, like with musicians that I really respect. Because, I don't know, maybe it's an emotional connection that I have. I think a lot of people have that, but I'm pretty ferociously attached to music that I love. So yeah, it was pretty awesome.

Pitchfork: Has music played a role in character preparation for you before?

EP: Oh totally. In every film, definitely, every character I play. Mind you I've also played a character that I just didn't think was into music at all, so I remember shooting one film and I noticed myself not really listening to music. Anyway, yeah, there's been some where it's been actually pretty intense, the amount of music that's involved.

Pitchfork: Do you actually think about what kind of music the character would listen to, or do you just listen to music based on how you have to act emotionally, like "to play this character I need to be pumped up, or vengeful"?

EP: Yeah, it's not about taking a character and creating a list of what I think they listen to and then listening to that. It's about getting my personal heart pumping the way I want it to be. So it's just about manipulating myself, basically [laughs].

Pitchfork: What kinds of stuff have you used in the past?

EP: Cat Power [laughs].

Pitchfork: What did you use Cat Power for?

EP: I've used Cat Power a few times, I guess. I don't know, now it feels oddly personal. It's funny how almost shy I feel about revealing it.

Pitchfork: I don't mean to make you reveal the wizard behind the curtain or anything.

EP: No, I know you don't, but it's still...yeah.

Pitchfork: For what character did you not listen to any music?

EP: I play an extremely bitchy, arrogant young Republican in a film coming out in April called Smart People with Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church. I just felt that if she did [listen to music] she'd just be pretending to listen to it, you know? You'd have to see the film, but she's really disconnected from herself in a way, and really isolated. Not exactly a happy person.

Pitchfork: It seems like a lot of the work you've done recently, aside from Juno, has been drama-oriented. Is this your first starring role in a movie comedy?

EP: In a movie comedy, yeah. Yeah, for sure.

Pitchfork: How was that?

EP: Extremely intimidating at first.

Pitchfork: More intimidating than something like Hard Candy?

EP: I don't know. I always go through this with films where when I get a role I'm usually ecstatic, because I typically just pursue roles that I want to play, and when I found out I had Juno I was through the moon because I had been totally obsessing about having this role. But then I got really anxious because I just didn't want to screw it up. I wouldn't be able to live with myself to damage the best script I ever read [laughs]. But luckily here I am working with Jason Reitman, who's so incredible at creating a sense of tone, as well as Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons, Jennifer Garner, who I think is awesome in this movie, absolutely awesome, so it all just kind of came together. So I feel pretty darn lucky.

Pitchfork: Do you have a preference between comedies or dramas?

EP: I think it's about whatever speaks to me. I don't really have an agenda of what I want to do next. I read something, and if it makes my heart jump, I get excited.

Pitchfork: Is there something about strong woman characters that tends to do that more frequently than others?

EP: Well, yeah. It's really just my desire to play young women that are whole and are well written. It's funny because I play these characters and then people are like, "Oh wow, you play such strong young women" or "such feminist roles." And I'm like, "If I was a guy, you would totally not be asking me that. If I was Emile Hirsch would you be saying, 'Oh, Emile Hirsch, you do such strong male roles?'" It's so frustrating that that question even needs to be asked. Hopefully [now that] characters like Juno will be out in the world, people's minds will start changing a bit and this vision of young women in popular media will have a few more dimensions.

Pitchfork: Finally, I'm just sort of curious-- since Michael Cera was in Superbad recently, and you're friends with Ben Foster, who was Eli on "Freaks and Geeks"-- with those connections, do you think that you'd ever work with Judd Apatow's crew on anything?

EP: Oh, man, if they wanted me to, of course. But, I mean, that's such a funny question to answer because... [laughs]

Pitchfork: It's a hypothetical, yeah.

EP: But yeah, I'm definitely a fan of his work and of that ensemble's work. So yeah, if they're interested, give me a ring. Call my peeps! [laughs]

Juno soundtrack:
01 Barry Louis Polisar: "All I Want Is You"
02 Kimya Dawson: "Rollercoaster (Juno Film Version)"
03 The Kinks: "A Well Respected Man"
04 Buddy Holly: "Dearest"
05 Mateo Messina: "Up the Spout"
06 Kimya Dawson: "Tire Swing"
07 Belle & Sebastian: "Piazza, New York Catcher"
08 Kimya Dawson: "Loose Lips"
09 Sonic Youth: "Superstar"
10 Kimya Dawson: "Sleep (Instrumental)"
11 Belle & Sebastian: "Expectations"
12 Mott the Hoople: "All the Young Dudes"
13 Kimya Dawson: "So Nice So Smart"
14 Cat Power: "Sea of Love"
15 Kimya Dawson and Antsy Pants: "Tree Hugger"
16 Velvet Underground: "I'm Sticking With You"
17 The Moldy Peaches: "Anyone Else but You"
18 Antsy Pants: "Vampire"
19 Ellen Page and Michael Cera: "Anyone Else but You"

Source: www.pitchforkmedia.com