Even better are the young stars, Michael Cera (19) and Ellen Page (20). Ever since Arrested Development I have loved how Cera does "awkward"--while most "awkward teenage boy" performances just annoy me (cf. Rabbit Hole, 100 Saints..., Doris to Darlene). I think it's because many actors make the mistake of playing these roles as one-dimensional, jittery bundles of nervousness, too shy and sensitive to ever survive in the real world. Michael Cera is different--more understated, less heart-on-sleeve. The actors I dislike simply telegraph "I'm a dork! I'm socially inept!" Cera goes for "I'm trying to be cool, I think it'll work this time...but oh no, did I just do something dorky?" He tries and strives, where other actors just act like losers from the get-go.
Thus, these lines are just so apt--Cera's appeal in a nutshell:
JUNO: You're like the coolest person I've ever met, and you don't even have to try, y'know...And Ellen Page is the first actress of my generation that I feel I can relate to. Someone talented and funny (she was hilarious on Letterman) who seems to care about the craft, not the fame or swag bags or clubbing. Someone who got famous because of a small, good movie, not for bad behavior or being a celebrity's daughter or being on a Disney show. I mean, who was I supposed to relate to before this--Hilary Duff? Maybe Evan Rachel Wood was a promising, offbeat role model, until she started dating Marilyn Manson, which is too offbeat even for me. (Ellen, Hilary, Evan, and I were all born in the same year, 1987.)
PAULIE: I try really hard, actually.
But I'm also annoyed that the Ellen Pages of this world still have trouble gaining acceptance amongst all the Hilary Duffs. I especially noticed this when I saw on Ellen's IMDB message board about half a dozen threads speculating that she's a lesbian. And OK, "not that there's anything wrong with that," with being a lesbian, I mean.
But I do think there is something wrong with the "reasoning" behind many of these "she must be gay" posts. There is something wrong with saying "judging by her behavior i dont think she digs guys. Lohan/Paris/Britney behavior, shows me they obviously dig guys. i know that sounds twisted, but its the truth" (found here). There is something wrong with thinking that a cute 20-year-old actress must be a lesbian if she isn't in a high-profile, paparazzi-attracting, PDA-filled relationship. There is something wrong with people who comb through every interview Ellen Page has ever given to see if she mentions a boyfriend, and when she does say something like "my ex-boyfriend," dismiss it with a "Well, she probably dumped him when she figured out she was gay!" And there is something wrong with a Hollywood system that presents young gay and lesbian actors with an impossible dilemma: stay in the closet, work 24-7 to quell rumors about your sexuality, and become a big star; or come out of the closet, have everyone praise your courage, but find yourself limited to smaller roles.
People say that Ellen Page sets off their "gaydar" because of her tomboy style, avowed feminism, and "low butch voice." This last accusation especially annoys me, because I like her for her deadpan delivery--a refreshing change from all the starlets who have high-pitched voices cooing Valley Girl uptalk. So do girls now have to sound like airheads in order for people to believe that they are heterosexual? When I and my articulate, feminist, non-trendy Vassar friends are launched into the real world in June, will everyone assume that we are gay?
If Ellen Page is indeed a lesbian, and comes out of the closet while her career is still nascent, I will admire her even more--for being courageous as well as talented and funny. But I also (and maybe this shows that I'm still not as accepting as I'd like) will be slightly disappointed. If Ellen Page is the first actress of my generation that I relate to--and she's also "ponging more gaydar than anyone since Jodie Foster"--then where, as a straight woman, does that leave me?