Shoehorned into a banquette on the sun-drenched patio of a Mediterranean joint in Manhattan's West Village, Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page can't keep their hands off each other.
The two stars first buddied up on the boisterous set of Whip It, this month's Roller Derby romp, which features Page as Bliss, a small-town pageant girl who trades in her tiara for ripped fishnets and elbow pads; it also marks Barrymore's first time as director. From the looks of things, bonding appears to have continued unabated well after the movie wrapped: Barrymore, wearing safety-pin earrings and a nubby scarf that Page knitted for her ("I stitch and bitch," the Juno alum explains), playfully holds hands throughout lunch with Page, who's sporting a tissue-thin Rolling Stones T-shirt, smudgy black eyeliner, and a jacket with the sleeves pushed up to display an enviable calculator watch.
Gigglingly pressed thigh-to-thigh, the roller girls spend the afternoon discussing everything from their Vegas trip to the sexiness of black socks. Just try to keep up:
MC: Drew, after an entire life spent in the business, when did you know you wanted to take the directing plunge?
DB: Since I was 6 years old. That's when I turned in my first script to my godfather. [That would be Steven Spielberg, folks.] He called it Terms of Endrewment—ironically, like Whip It, it was also about a mother-daughter relationship. Subjects like finding your tribe, becoming your own hero, and mother-daughter stuff are what my whole life has been about, so I really understood the strained relationship in Whip It between Bliss and her mom [Marcia Gay Harden]. I think there's a tremendous amount of guilt that goes on between mothers and daughters, no matter how good or bad their relationships are. It kills girls inside when they think they're letting their mothers down.
MC: Ellen, what got you in the rink?
EP: I was at Sundance with a much freakier film, An American Crime. And one of our producers said, "Oh, I want to talk to you about this movie about Roller Derbys, but you're probably not going to want to do it because you only like dark material." And I'm like, "Who the fuck told you that?"
DB: Roller Derby is cropping up like wildfire around the country. There's a surge, a swell. It's like a wonderful manifestation of this need to find your alter ego and family, to kick ass. It's an unbiased, unjudgmental, come-one-come-all sport. It doesn't care if you're 5'1", if you weigh 200 pounds, if you're a 12-year-old, or 19, or a soccer mom. These girls aren't getting paid for it; they all have day jobs. There's no snobbery, nothing elitist. Even the crowds are so eclectic. You're literally like, "80-year-old grandpa, why are you here?"
EP: And people who never played a sport in their life do this! I grew up playing sports, but now I feel like I can't, because if I get injured, I'll impair whatever film I'm working on.
DB: She's a big soccer player.
EP: And I haven't snowboarded in three years because I'm working every winter.
DB: I have to get a preproduction cast physical done [for insurance reasons] for another film I'm working on as soon as I leave here, and literally all the questions are, Are you riding on the back of a motorcycle? Will you be on the back of a motorcycle? Like, hopefully! Fuck, I don't know. Well, then, you can't do the movie!
MC: On the flip side, on this movie you could be a real bruiser. Were you icing each other down after training?
EP: I'd ice-skated before, because I'm Canadian and that's what you do as a kid, but I'd never, ever been on quad skates. So I trained for three months with a derby trainer. I actually never got badly injured—I'm tough as frickin' nails.
DB: When I trained for the Charlie's Angels movies, at night I'd be in Cameron's bathtub with Epsom salts, just battered, with my leg stuck out to here. And there were days where we'd be like, "How the fuck can we play hooky? I want to go shopping. I don't want to train anymore."
MC: [to Ellen] I heard you backpacked through Romania.
EP: Yeah, the summer before last. God, where does time go? It was fantastic. I took a year off after I shot Juno. I was just like, Ugh—I was tired of working.
DB: I couldn't do that. I'm so jealous. I never take a break.
EP: I'm going to pull you away soon, and we'll go on a wild adventure.
DB: A goose chase!
EP: It'll be fun!
DB: There's a difference between goose chases and wild-goose chases.
EP: Traveling with her is an absolute blast. Drew always brings such a positive energy. We just went to Mexico for New Year's. We played Cranium, and I teamed up with [musician] Har Mar Superstar, and we were destroyed.
DB: Everybody from Whip It still texts and e-mails—we're real friends. I'll walk in my kitchen, and I'll find her and Alia Shawkat [from Arrested Development] eating vegetables, and I'm like, "Good evening, ladies!"
EP: Shawkat's become one of my best friends—she's literally one of the funniest people I've ever met. I just feel so lucky. The family that stemmed out of this is unbelievable. A lot of the time, you shoot a movie, and then you'll e-mail once in a while, but I feel like now I have long-lasting friendships.
DB: Yeah, mine and Ellen's birthdays are like one minute apart, so we all went away for our birthdays, to Vegas, and celebrated together. [Barrymore just turned 34, Page, 22.]
EP: It was my first Vegas experience, and luckily it had no similarities to The Hangover.
MC: Was the chemistry instant between you two?
EP: I first met Drew at the Chateau Marmont. And it was a surreal moment for me in my life. You could just feel her warmth and kindness immediately, and the way she carried herself was just so grounded. So then it was like, "Oh, this is going to be great." And then it went into, "Oh, my God, I'm really crazy about this person." It just grew and grew and grew and grew and grew.
DB: We didn't know each other at first, but there was no other person I was going to make the movie with.
MC: Is being besties with the boss a blessing or a curse?
DB: I'm not the boss. That's why I put myself on the team in the film. Because I don't want to be sitting on the sidelines as the director going, "I know you're hurling yourself around that track at 60 miles per hour—don't worry! Just get in there and do it!" I wanted to understand the pain that comes from falling, the fear of the brain telling you Don't do this, don't do this, but the body forcing you to. It was so important for me to be in their skates, pun intended. And when Ellen and I had conflicts, that only deepened our friendship more, because we cared. That's what real friendship is. It's not niceties. It's like, we're in the trenches together, we're having a rough day, we're going to get through it—let's fucking go!
EP: I know this is a cheesy thing to say, but it was magic. And seeing how Drew has established community and friends, L.A. has become ... well, I like being in L.A. now. I'm so grateful to this girl. I love her.
MC: Music seems like a driving force for you both.
DB: It's such a big part of my life. And such a big part of hers. Our tastes differ here and there—she's a little more ethereal and I'll go a little more garage band—but they're very similar. So we go to shows all the time with Shawkat and all our friends. She really likes the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
EP: Love them. And we saw Amsterdam in L.A.
DB: We just went to see Peaches. It was awesome.
EP: I just got a Smart Car, and the very first night we all went out in it to see Cat Power. I wanted to give Drew a ride, but it's so small, I was going to put her in the trunk—but there were too many paparazzi outside.
DB: I said, "You know what? Let me just divert them away from you guys, get out, and I'll take the hit and grab a cab."
EP: I felt so bad. I think the Smart Car is awesome. The only problem is I've been on the freeway and felt like I was going to be blown away like a Tim Hortons coffee cup, so I may have to upgrade to a Mini Cooper—something a little stronger.
DB: I also love using music to set a mood. We both started almost crying at the [MC] cover shoot when we were listening to Kings of Leon. [sings] Use somebody. Someone like youuuu. It makes you emotional, you know? You're just standing there doing a shoot with someone you love, celebrating this thing that you shared.
MC: Ellen, you're a newbie at some of this stuff—is it more fun to do a big photo shoot like ours with Drew, who has so many more of these under her belt?
EP: She's just so fucking good at it. I didn't really play dress up when I was a kid, and I'm really T-shirt and jeans-y. But I think I'm getting way better at these things. I've been having more fun with it, and I owe that to Drew. Just being able to tap into more of a sensuous side or something. It felt good.
DB: On the movie, we'd do our costume fittings together and just talk about how to be comfortable with your body. I'd basically chase her around and say, "If you don't mind doing this scene in your underwear—and keep those black socks on—I'd love it." That's more real: When you spend the night with girlfriends, you're going to wake up in your undies and socks.
EP: That was cut from the movie, though, wasn't it?
DB: It was, it was. But also in the locker room wearing those tiny little outfits. Ellen has such a beautiful body, and I personally battled with my own body image for years. I used to tell myself, You can't wear anything sleeveless or strapless. And all of a sudden I was like, What if I just didn't send such negative messages to my brain and said, wear it and enjoy it? And now I'm more comfortable in clothes than ever.
EP: That openness. It's so sexy.
DB: She was in her frickin' bra with an open jacket and hot-pink shorts, skating around the rink with red lips and ...
EP: I was having a really good time.
DB: ... and she was sexy as a mother ... a feral creature. It was great. And it's so screwed up for girls to think, Oh, because I don't have that cookie-cutter model body, it must mean I don't have the right body shape. And I love model bodies, but I just want women to embrace several body shapes. That's the thing I love about derby. It's really welcoming.
To read the rest of the interview, pick up the October issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now.
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