They’re part of Hollywood’s new breed, but Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are keen to make “interesting films”. Like Inception. Watch our video interview…
It’s only 11am, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page are already feeling the strain. Maybe it was the 20 minutes spent trying to figure out who sat where…
“It’s all got to do with the fact that I’m tiny,” offers Page, the Canadian actress who was Oscar-nominated for 2007’s Juno. She is indeed tiny, by the way. “And Joseph isn’t, so, we just don’t want to look like a comedy duo here, and that means finding a balance. And, no, I’m not sitting on a big cushion…”
What Ellen Page and her LA-born co-star are sitting on is one of the year’s most highly-anticipated movies, Inception, writer/director Christopher Nolan’s long-gestating and enormously ambitious follow-up to his record-breaking Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight. Leonardo DiCaprio is the dream interloper with a fine line in extracting information from those in the land of nod, with Gordon-Levitt playing his right hand man and Page the young architect whiz with the natural gift for constructing those honey-trap dream worlds.
Nolan was inspired by the likes of The Matrix and Blade Runner, but the reviews have been mixed – between ecstatic and baffled.
In their Dorchester Hotel room last week, it was clear that Page and Gordon-Levitt were keen to give the film four thumbs up.
Watch the video interview – Press Play
PAUL BYRNE: As my mother always says, when it comes to metaphysical puzzles, there’s a fine line between being dazzled with brilliance and baffled by bullshit. Were you always dazzled here? Were you ever baffled?
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: Well, I think sometimes I was intrigued, and I had to work a little bit to figure out what was going on, but I enjoy that kind of challenge. I was never baffled by bullshit, because it’s not bullshit. Inception’s a story that Christopher Nolan’s been working on for literally ten years, and there aren’t any holes in the logic. You’ll get more out of it the second time you see it, but even the first time, I feel the reason that I’m able to just immerse myself in it is because I trust it. This actually makes sense. He’s worked the whole thing through. And I’m not going to run into some excuse or a Hollywood plot device. It’s actually a really well thought-through story.
And you, Ellen? Ditto?
ELLEN PAGE: Yeah, he took the words right out of my mouth [laughs].
For Chris, it was Fred Astaire’s dancing-on-the-ceiling classic Royal Wedding mixed with Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, with quite a few other mindbending sci-fi classics thrown in. Did he give you homework to look over, movies to watch?
EP: I think when you’re working with someone like Chris Nolan – who I’m such a huge fan of, and I know that Joe is as well – being a fan of everything he’s done, he’s just so incredibly assured, he’s so in control of everything, but he also allows for such spontaneity on the day. Behind the camera, and for the actors, and when you’re working with someone like that, it’s an incredibly fulfilling experience. I don’t know, I didn’t feel the necessity to go to other sources – here’s this incredibly original artist who makes these huge scale movies that could maybe be typically one-note into these absolutely honest, sincere, immersive, multi-dimensional cinematic experiences. And I think that’s exactly what he’s done with Inception.
Ah, your elbow just slipped off your chair’s armrest there, kinda undermining your deep answer. Shame.
EP: [Laughs] It’s good for my ego, it’s good for my ego. It’s good for the old selflessness…
With a movie like this, get it right, and you’ve got The Matrix. Get it wrong, and you’ve got a Matrix sequel. Was there a point when you felt, okay, this all fits together?
JGL: I think we knew going in that it all fitted together, because the script was just so meticulous, so detailed. All the numbers added up, the plot leaps, the enigmatic lines, the clues, they all made sense once you followed them right down the line. So, there was never really that worry about whether it would work or not. I guess there’s that anxiety over whether you can capture all of what you’ve read up on the screen…
EP: But then, you’re dealing with Christopher Nolan, and he’s proven – with the likes of Memento and The Dark Knight – that he’s well capable of taking very complex ideas and presenting them in a coherent and fascinating way. I like the fact that he doesn’t really compromise. He doesn’t underestimate the audience, or treat them like idiots.
JGL: This is what you sign up for in this job. You want to make interesting films, and they don’t come much more interesting than this…
With all artists, there’s a struggle to maintain a private life away from their public life, yet it’s very often that private life that informs a person’s art the most. Ellen, there’s been quite a lot of speculation about your private life, about one particular aspect that you have chosen not to deal with directly, but I feel the time has come maybe to face up to that consistent rumour. Are you now, or have you ever been, Canadian?
EP: [Laughs] I am.
How’s it been working out for you?
EP: I love it. I love where I’m from.
I have a brother-in-law who’s Canadian – is there any kind of repatriation programme, where we can have him relocated back to Canada?
EP: Well, you’d have to probably have to look into the immigration policies. I’m not too accomplished in my knowledge of such matters.
Very last thing – you’re both young, jet-setting superstars, and yet neither of you has made it Ireland! What gives?
EP: I can’t wait.
JGL: Well, I’ve been avoiding you, dude. It’s kinda awkward that you’ve asked.
This ain’t over, Levitt. This is going to go on…
JGL: Well, if you feel like experiencing some pain, we can take this outside…
Rock’n’roll. Will you need to take your PA with you?
Ellen, you got any plans to come over?
EP: I was going to go over this spring, to visit a friend who lives outside of Dublin, but it didn’t work out. So, hopefully, soon. Every Irish person I meet is just so lovely.
Except for me, right, Levitt?
Interview by Paul Byrne
Inception hits Irish cinemas this Friday