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Stroumboulopoulos: Interviews with Bill Maher, Jay Baruchel and Ellen Page

Aired June 21, 2013 - 23:00   ET


GEORGE STROUMBOULOPOULOS, CNN HOST: Welcome to the program tonight. From "Politically Incorrect" to "Real Time," he goes after everybody. Real talk in the red chair with Bill Maher.

BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN/TALK SHOW HOST: Politicians will always say, "If we only had a government as good as the people." Well, our big problem is that we do.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And here's the thing. If you're going to make a film about the end of the world and your friends are the fastest and the funniest out there, you better check your feelings at the door. That's exactly Jay Baruchel and his pals had to do at their new picture called "This Is The End."

JAY BARUCHEL: If you're making a movie where everyone is insulting each other I will assume someone will get offended at some point. I know I did.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Since her 2008 OSCAR nomination for "Juno." She has walked an interesting line between really big films and really pushed in some of the politics in her life as well and she does in film called "The East." Ellen Page, talking about acting and accountability.

ELLEN PAGE: We live in a time where expressing emotion is seen as weakness, and I think it's the exact opposite.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Stroumboulopoulos starts now.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: All right here we go with the show. It was underway for the night. I don't know if you've seen the trailer yet for "This is the End." That film I mentioned with Jay Baruchel. Google it, listen if you're easily offended, don't, don't. But if you're not easily offended, check it out. It'll prepare you for what's going to come up in the conversation a little bit later on today.

All right, so the guy that has been able to offend people and also to really validate other's opinions is Bill Maher over the years. And Bill Maher has been sharing his opinions for ages. He got himself canceled because he said something that was controversial in this country. But like it or not, he's found his place. There's a lot to get into with Mr. Bill Maher. He's on his way here. Here's the story.

MAHER: What do we want? A small improvement. When do we want it? 2016?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Before hosting Politically Incorrect.

MAHER: He used to be a Nazi, and he wears funny hats.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Before the unfiltered opinions on Real Time.

MAHER: As long as we're pathetic, we might as well act like it's cute.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: The Barbie jokes and the controversial statements.

MAHER: America, home of the freedom bit.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Before all of that, Bill Maher was simply the son of William Maher, Sr., an NBC broadcaster and news editor who stopped going to church because he didn't agree with its stance on birth control.

Growing up in the New York City suburb of River Vale, New Jersey and graduating from Cornell University, he took the job that well, that kind of bums out every parent. He said, "Dad, I want to be a comic." So for the next 15 years, he was a comedian's comedian, hosting shows at famous New York City comedy clubs, going on The Tonight Show and earning small roles in movies. Then in 1993, he got his big break. Comedy Central, an unknown cable network at the time gave Bill his own show. Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, and it prospered until this out.

MAHER: Standing in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But it wasn't over for Bill on TV, he got himself a new network, HBO, and a new name, "Real Time with Bill Maher." 20 years, 15 Emmy nominations later, Bill is still going strong, giving his point of view on everything from religion and politicians, PETA, food, guns, marijuana and Donald Trump's resemblance to an orangutan. At the end of the day, Bill is a comic about something.

Everybody, please welcome to the show, Bill Maher.

MAHER: Oh, God.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How you doing, man?

MAHER: Hey, thanks a lot.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How are you man? Congratulations. Look at you, you made it to America. How about a hand of applause, are they bad and jealous in Canada?

MAHER: I haven't left Canada, man. I'm doing both. We can't loose it now.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Let me tell you, there's some people in Canada who look at you like Lebron James. MAHER: I don't feel that way. That's OK, too.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But our game, I was thinking about you in terms of the run that you'd been on with Real Time, that when Politically Incorrect ended, could you ever imagine that this is the place you would be right now? That you would found this network and found this interesting moment?

MAHER: Well actually, we taped right in the studio we're in now.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Which is so weird.

MAHER: Yes. And I'd been on the same lot. We've taped Politically Incorrect here. We taped Real Time here. I was on this lot when I was with Comedy Central, when I was with ABC, and now with HBO, and I have the same office and the same phone number. Because I'm a gangster.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Does this feel different at all for you?

MAHER: Well, it means a different show. You know, I mean Politically Incorrect was fun for what it was but it was a designed train wreck or...


BIL MAHER: Well, first of all, it was on five nights a week, four guests. It's 20 people who were talking about politics. Well, there aren't 20 people in America who know about politics. Let alone that I could get on my show. The show we do now was once a week. It's truly for smart people. Just want to like -- I could fake it if I watch Politically Incorrect. This is a real A list kind of panel that's really smart and, you know, there's many -- fewer celebrities. We used to have a lot of celebrities. All you had to do it again on Politically Incorrect was deep breathing and have some sort of fame.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But back then when Politically Incorrect...

MAHER: Real Time, you have to really be smart.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Back when Politically Incorrect started, they were a fewer celebrities out here. Like the advent of Reality Times...

MAHER: It was?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Yes, for sure. The way Reality Times has changed now. Everybody is famous for eight seconds.

MAHER: Yes, I guess if you'd count those people as -- I mean, I don't -- I mean, I read the tabloids. I will admit because I need to relax. And like half of these people, I have no idea who they are. Even so when they're on the cover, like I don't know who this person is because they are reality person. Right and if you don't follow that world, you know, of people throwing drinks in each other's faces, you don't know who these people are.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Can you get a handle on a culture based on who they determine as famous at the time?

MAHER: I think that's a smart observation. I think that's -- people know that that is true is what do people worship, what does the society worship? And you can get a handle, our culture is shallow, you know, we're proud of it. That's who we are. We got to own it.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Is there a place where you found your way of John Stewart as - this great. Tavis Smiley still does it in his way. There was this group of people who have been able to find a real footing by not having to be shallow.

MAHER: Of course because it's a big country. There's over 300 million people on this country. I would say ,like there's a great smart European country in America. It's just surrounded by a bunch of rednecks. But sure, I mean like a European country is, you know, like Germany, France, England, those countries are like between 60 and 80 million people. We have those 60 to 80 million smart people, not like everybody in those -- those countries is smart either. But we just have more people.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Can you find a way to make those desperate opinions and values work?

MAHER: Well, obviously you know that we have a lot of paralysis in our government, you know, we obviously can't do that anymore. That's a real shame. I mean the two parties had different governing philosophies, always. But they did find ways to work together, and there were things that they could find common ground with. That doesn't exist anymore. And it's not the fault of them equally, one party is a bunch of knuckle draggers, I won't say which. But the fault does not go around equally as the media would like to portray it and it's partly the media's fault because they're not very bright either. And they promote things like false equivalency which are wrong. We should put the blame where it is and tell the truth where it lies.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: There's a moment on Politically Incorrect. I want to play this clip which is -- was one of the greatest of all time.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're out in the open now. They're not even trying to conceal it anymore. The owners of the country had to -- they bought their elect -- got their election, they said we're going to get this election. We'll put you people in that court for a reason. Now is the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, that's the urge for you now.

UNIDENIFIED MALE: Yes, forget all that stupid [bleep]...


MAHER: Well, that's one thing I love about George Carlin. He was not afraid to do that.


MAHER: That's what most people are afraid to do. You know, politicians will always say if we only had a government as good as the people. Well, our big problem is that we do have exactly a government as good as the people. Our democracy is very representative, I mean we get to choose these people and these are the people we put into office.

So it does come back to the people. They're very easily fooled and they're horribly misinformed about everything. And the people who watch Fox News live in a bubble, I can't even describe to you. They have -- the facts never get in. It's like the airlock in an alien movie, you know, that you can't let the alien in or else you have to blow up the ship. That's really the situation we have in this country is you have a hard time passing legislation that means something if people don't understand what's in it.

They still don't understand what's in ObamaCare. They still don't know what that is and we've asked that three years ago.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: So this is - there's this intellectual impasse that's going on. Is there a way around it?

MAHER: Well, not a quick fix. I mean I think we'd start with education but we don't really concentrate on that in this country. We don't have a sense in this country that it's every, it's -- we're all in it together. It's an every man for himself philosophy that governs this country much more than most other western democracies.

And that's not a good thing for a country because every country asked -- every modern country is now a quasi-socialist country. That's not a dirty word but in America when you say socialist, you know, most people, I don't know what it means. I just know it's something super bad like kind of feel you're atheist or something like that. Just something we can't -- meanwhile, they do nothing but take money from the government.

They're such hypocrites. They hate socialism but they live on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, unemployment benefits. All this money but they hate socialism.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Is this a natural place for a country to be at this age? You know, it's not the youngest...

MAHER: You're saying we're a teenager.


MAHER: And we're about as bright as one.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Oh, I'm just saying that, it may be is a reaction (inaudible) one. Canada is about to enter that space as well that...

MAHER: Right. STROUMBOULOPOULOS: We don't have the same history.

MAHER: That certainly is part of it. I mean civilizations literally do grow up. I mean, Europe is the old civilization and then in some ways they're jaded and that's not great, and they're worn out in some ways in their feet and there is energy here that maybe you don't have in the old world, but they also do have that sort of wisdom in that savvy and they understand that. They don't get excited about, "Oh, my God, we're becoming a socialist. Have you?" So, what? If it works, that's all that matters, let's just do what works.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How much do this guy, the version of you that has strong -- not just a strong belief system but the ability to stand by in what you say and go out and say, "Is it from your father?"

MAHER: Father and mother, I would say, yes, I mean, they were both political. My father certainly did it for a living.


MAHER: Which was different, you know. I mean, he was newsman in the days of radio news, when there was radio news at the top of the hour on every radio station. And it's something we talked about in home, which I think is different than most kids. I mean, I think most American families, if they have dinner together at all, if the family is together at all. You know, they're probably watching TV at dinner, or talking about reality TV or whatever. I don't--

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And then think of something that your parents would have talked with, the stuff you would've seen in your life growing up where you did.

MAHER: Yes, I do remember the riots in Chicago when there were -- the democratic invention was there in 1968, I was--

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It was a big moment.

MAHER: -- 12 years old. Yeah, I remember the "Summer of Love". And then the '68 was like the "Summer of Hate". It was just the opposite. It all turned. You know, the people who are on drugs were now sketchy characters who are in the gutter and they were ODing (ph) and then the police were beating people up and the country was at each other's throat. It was a fun time, assassinations.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Right, that certainly would leave a mark in a way, or at least put a filter to which you might see government or institutions.

MAHER: Doctor, I know our time is up. But I hope we can get into this next week because I think we're getting to a breakthrough.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That's what I'm going for. No -- but is it true? I mean, I've heard stories sort of alluded to that your father had the left the church at one point because he disagrees with the (inaudible) in that church? MAHER: At the best of life was when I found that we don't have go to the church anymore. Yes, I was 13 years old. I put this -- I interviewed my mother for my religious documentary "Religulous" and, you know, I wanted to ask her on camera because I never really understood this.

Why did we stop going to church? And, why did you, mom, never go to -- well, I knew at this point in my life, I knew that she was Jewish but I never knew when I was kid, you know, we were Catholics. My father, my sister, and I were Catholics. We went to church every Sunday. I had to go to catechism, do all that bull (bleep). My mother stayed home and I never asked why, you know, I was like, "What? You had to baby sit the dog?"

I was just so petrified about church that I wasn't thinking about anything else and I said, you know, "Why didn't you tell me when I was younger?" And she was like, "Well, I didn't think it was my place." You know, the mindset back then was so different. And I was like, "But you aren't Catholic. Why were you?" I remember her like helping me with the catechism. And she said, "Well, you know, the way we thought back then was it's better to have some religious training than none."


MAHER: You know, it doesn't matter what the religion is as long as you believe in nonsense of some kind. That's what's important.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It even worked into some of your act, I suppose the Memory Lane (ph) is now.

MAHER: Oh, gosh.


MAHER: I was raised Catholic formally, although I must say the Jewish mind comes out even in the Catholic system. I'll give you an example. We used to go into confession and I would bring a lawyer in with me. That's my first time on TV.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE2: That's Johnny Carson, 1982.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE1: But what was going to your mind before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE2: That my pants were too tight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE1: Were you nervous at all in that moment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE2: Of course, we're all nervous because we know that that's like the baccalaureate. If you don't pass that test you do not go on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE1: Right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE2: And, if you do well you might have a career in show business, and you are legitimized. If you don't well, there's really nothing for you because every other show you would do, would be to build up to that show, to the Tonight Show. So, there was a lot riding on it. But it's a piece of cake. I mean, compared to -- you've been working in clubs, you know, where the audience can be very difficult and drunk and whatever, heckling.

And now, you're on with Johnny Carson who set you up, you know, when found the fact that fabulous young comedian and you're going to -- you're going to love him and it's very hard commodity, you know, all the bully would say every time. It's hard commodity to find, there was a new one every week. You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a comic in those days. But if you did well, you know, you got to keep going. I mean the mistake people have made in that era was thinking that it made you a star. But that -- those days were over. I did 30 Tonight Shows and people loved it. I still was not very well-known until I got my own show. But it could get you your own show, the Tonight Show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE1: Mr. Graham Bill Maher right after this.

All right, tons more to talk about with Bill including his childhood habit which resulted in a lot of death. Stick around.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE1: Welcome back here with Bill Maher in the program. This has been on the record for so long people will always remember what you said. Do you think people will let you have opinion changes and let you evolve?

MAHER: I'm certainly free to evolve, yes. I'm not a politician. When you're a politician, you can't evolve. You have to have the exact same opinion at 60 you had at 18 or else you are flip-flopper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE1: Right. And that's exactly --

MAHER: Which is crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE1: That's the problem with the system.

MAHER: Right, that's what being a human being is all about. I learn something and yes, now I've switched my opinion because I now have more information.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What's the biggest shift you've had?

MAHER: That's a good question. I'll give you one, like hunting. I'm a big animal rights advocate. But, you know, when I talk to a real hunter, they're like, "Well, you eat meat?" I say, "Not very often but, you know, sometimes I do." I mean, I'm not against killing animals if it's humanely, they kill each other, you know? We are at the top of the food chain, I get that. And he's like, "Would you rather eat something that was factory farmed where they torture the animal or, you know, do you think it's better that I can kill an animal in the wild and eat the whole thing?" And I know I would have to concede that that is a preferable method of eating an animal than keeping it in a pay -- I mean, a pen and its own feces its whole life.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: You're aligned with PETA, would you consider that? I mean, (inaudible).

MAHER: Absolutely, very much aligned.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And PETA is one of those groups that -- an example of when you're a loud group and when you have a strong position.

MAHER: They are there -- I mean, they're on the edge and I'm glad they're there. I don't always agree with everything they say or do but I'm glad that, first of all, animal rights wasn't even on the agenda before they existed. So, they kind of had to elbow their way into the room because, you know, there is no constituency except the constituency of the heart for animals. You know, there is no money in it. You know, they can't vote.


MAHER: You know, I mean I kind of related. I understand people who feel that way about children and feel that way about abortion. I mean I'm pro choice but I always say you do not have to be religious to be against abortion. Like, if you say, "OK, I'm against gay marriage and I think gays are wicked." That's coming from the Bible. That's nonsense. But you can be an atheist and understand that, you know, a child inside of the womb, it's not a child yet but it's becoming one. I kinda get that advocacy for something that's innocent. I don't feel it there, I feel it for animals. That's where I feel that compassion.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Towards animals. And so, when you're a kid, did you have them, is what you do?

MAHER: You know, I mean I collected butterflies when I was a real little kid. Maybe it's all guilt from that.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That's what I'm wondering. Were you pinning needles to--

MAHER: Jesus, you are a psychiatrist, aren't you? Yes we -- yes, there was killing jar. It's true. I was like the Adolf Eichmann of my block.

I mean, we would -- I would catch them with the damn net. I mean I was like four or five years old.


MAHER: I mean, you know, I didn't know what I was doing really except catching something.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: You're following orders, Maher.

MAHER: And then -- I was following orders -- just following orders and then you'd put them -- you'd pinched the thorax which was, you know, I guess that would stun them or kill them or whatever. And then you'd put them in this jar, whatever it was, formaldehyde or -- it's good that you have a five-year old with jar full of deadly gas, by the way, you know this.

But, and then my father would mount them on, you know, we've hung them on the wall. But maybe I do feel guilty because, you know, we don't see that many butterflies anymore.

Because that -- it wasn't me.

I personally didn't kill them. Look at these people blaming me.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Scientist felt the Maher effect.

MAHER: They do. I know. Very good. But, yeah, bees are dying out. I mean, it's, you know, we are completely destroying the planet, I mean--

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Is it inevitable? Are we just doing what we're designed for?

MAHER: It's not inevitable but we would have to reverse it starting like yesterday and we're not even close to doing that.


MAHER: So, you know, have I lost all hope? No. But, you know, I always say, it's the younger people who have to be passionate about this more than I am. I'm 57. I've had my fun with the world. When you're 25, you're the one who is going to be on the Clean-up Committee. You're the one who is going to be wearing a hazmat suit to go down and get the mail. Get the mail. Look at me, right, look at me getting the mail.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It'll just be sent to you--

MAHER: Getting my mail, and just go getting mail.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It's amazing to watch you guys like Ricky Gervais talk ends, even you, when you get into scraps with people especially online, it's the most fun.

MAHER: You know, I fought Twitter a little bit at first but I've come to really like it. As opposed to what it first was which was -- or I guess, still is for most people, which is just sort of a trivial recounting of what you're doing at the moment. You know, "I just watched F Troop and ate a banana," who gives a crap. I mean if it thoughts, you know, the people I follow actually tweet thoughts and funny little epigrams. I mean it's something I think, you know, Benjamin Franklin would've used.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Do you like it? And back into with people because sometimes--

MAHER: You know, I have to be in the mood.


MAHER: When you're in mood sometimes you're so hard on them because, you know what? You can't read it like before you go to bed.


MAHER: There's just too much ignorance and hatred and it's depressing. It's depressing that people aren't fair. They just want to, you know, attack. I mean, trust me, I could say "Good morning" on Twitter and there would be 10, immediately within a minute, saying, "Where did you get off saying good morning, Bill Maher? Ronald Reagan invented morning and you don't -- not to fit to shine his shoes," and yes. I mean, they're just looking to be contrary and I mean it can really depress me to read the Twitter feed.


MAHER: But I have to remind myself, I don't think that is America necessarily. But it is a sign of it.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What a pleasure, man. Thanks for coming.

MAHER: OK. Thank you.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Bill Maher everybody. We'll be right back.

There's so much more to come tonight. Jay Baruchel is here talking about working with a Hollywood legend like Clint Eastwood. And let's talk about new Hollywood, Ellen Page, later in the Red Chair.


ANDERSON COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper and this is CNN.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It's back here on the show. I haven't done the math on this yet not because they don't care about you, it's just I'm not very good at math. But how many people started out as doing kids' TV shows not just as an actress, sometimes as an actress, sometimes in a reality setting, and then grow up a little bit and find a real moment with Clint Eastwood and then get to be in some of the best comedies of their time as well. He's done it all with the maple leaf tattooed right over his heart, he's a good man, his name is Jay Baruchel. This is what some of you had to say about him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jay Baruchel is hilarious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, he's just this really cool like young Woody Allen feel to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love how cute and nerdy he is, which is exactly my type.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You watch him and you're sort of like cringing at first and then it evolve into a huge crush. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he was in Tropic Thunder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love that movie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see him doing Million Dollar Baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorcerer's Apprentice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's Out of My League.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really cool seeing an actor with that kind of range.


STROUMBOULOPOULOS: As I said, Jay Baruchel. Good to see you. How are you?

BARUCHEL: I'm well, thank you. How are you?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I'm very well. Chillin'?

BARUCHEL: Chillin'.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Good scary movies, good disaster movies have to be a morality plan somewhere.


STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That's where you learn how you really would be.

BARUCHEL: Or something, yes.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: If this is the end, how close is it to you?

BARUCHEL: I'd like to think I'm not as much of a worry worth and sad sack as I come off in the movie. But probably, I am just as much of a worry worth and sad sack as I come off in the movie.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: We're people exaggerated versions of themselves or is that all written for--

BARUCHEL: No, it was like, we just sort of figured out what's lamest about each of us and exacerbated it to a comic extent, more or less.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How did it come to be? It's a perfect cast for this kind of thing.

BARUCHEL: It's crazy, yes. No, wait, it all started in like '06. Seth and I were in the short film called Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse where it was about Jay and Seth in an apartment during the apocalypse. And I played Jay and...


BARUCHEL: Seth played Seth, it's a fascinating stuff. STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I mean, you guys are true to yourself, that's pretty great.

BARUCHEL: Yes. We're trying our best. We're trying to keep it real. I don't even know what that means. And then they convinced somebody who controls purse strings that this could be a movie movie. Of course, when it's a short film, it can be just Seth and I in an apartment for a big future studio movie it has to be a mansion. And instead of just Seth, James Franco and Jonah Hill and Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson. And cast of thousands of stars.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Movie likes to see the idea that your buddies -- was everybody a buddy on that film?

BARUCHEL: Oh, yes. I mean, we're as buddies as our lifestyles allow us to be. You know, I live in Montreal, and they live out here, and we're all fairly busy, and north of 30. And so, like, but yes, at this point, I would stay like -- I've known Seth since we were both 18. So, and I'm 31 now, so I'm terrible at math, but that feels like a while.


BARUCHEL: Yes. Long enough.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Yes. Long enough for sure.

BARUCHEL: And so at this point, the only word I could use to describe it is familial.


BARUCHEL: It's family, blood.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Let's go back early early for a second. Let's watch this. Young gay.



UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You are going to babysit Tracy tomorrow night. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Oh, no. What isn't Alex? I mean, he's always more responsible.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: One thing. Alex is doing very well in his courses.


STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Alex is doing really well.

BARUCHEL: That's the show that's never appeared in this country, I don't think.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That was in 1996? BARUCHEL: Yes about that. Yes.


BARUCHEL: My hometown. Yes.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Did you know what it is you wanted to do at that time?

BARUCHEL: Oh, yes. Even before I started acting at 12, I had known that all I wanted to do, it's kind of cool, passion has remained consistent my whole life. All I've ever wanted to do is to write and direct horror movies and action movies. And so like my way into acting was a means of getting to be on the set. You know, like, I have a great respect for acting.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Who took you to your first movie?

BARUCHEL: Mom and dad. I think the first -- they claim that they brought me as a baby to see "E.T." of course, I can't vouch for that. But the first movie I remember going to see was "Star Trek 4" with my parents. The one where they go back in time to San Francisco to kidnap the humpback whale.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Yes, really big movie.


STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Like classic story.

BARUCHEL: It's up there for me.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: So you imagine that -- his whole life would be a part of it, gets on a set, you got Clint Eastwood as the director and Morgan Freeman is over there.



BARUCHEL: Scary is the word. Scary. Yes. Definitely scary. Well, still to this day Clint Eastwood is the only guy I've worked for -- one person I've worked for that when my grand dad still alive, he would have been impressed by. You know, like I'm very proud of my career. But my grand dad would had no idea who Ben Stiller, David (INAUDIBLE) or somebody but Clint Eastwood.



STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But he's not a nurturing director in the scene, typical scene, is he?

BARUCHEL: Well, he sneaks on me. The first day was quite a learning curve for me, because I was, you know, I couldn't help but feel the ghost of my grandfather watching me. And I look over and there's Clint Eastwood and there's Morgan Freeman as a -- like a good movie. You know, like I really, I can't blow it. I really can't blow it. And you know, after every take, I would ask, was that all right, sir? Yes, that's fine. Yes, that's fine. I thought God, he was going to fire me. He's going to fire me. I just imagined a flurry of cell phone calls to my agent about like, do you have anybody else skinny who can play disabled?

And then, I guess, Morgan Freeman saw me kind of freaking out and he leaned over and he said, you know, if he doesn't say anything, it means he likes it. Oh, good. Good, because he's been saying nothing all day.


But then, but there was this wonderful kind of epiphany for me because like, you know, as an actor, as any one, you have a tendency to want to do better and to want to tweak, and now I can do better. Like one more, just give me one more, I can be better at it. And you never get better -- like, like there is that one more is infinite.


BARUCHEL: And it would force this epiphany I mean, where I realize, it doesn't matter how I feel about it. He's the director, he hired me, he's making the movie. If he thinks I've served, you know, my purpose, if I've done what I have to do, and he's content with it. What difference does it make?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Is that feeling though -- is that compartmentalized just you onset but is that like, you like that idea of trying to, you know -- I'm not there?

BARUCHEL: I suppose. I mean, I have to say I'm pretty content for the most part with my life. You know, I have a really great mother and sister. I live very close to them. I have an awesome house with cats in it.


BARUCHEL: There's two right now.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Because three is the limit, right? You can have three, but after three, and three isn't weird in some places.

BARUCHEL: Yes. Well, no, I agree. I know that these two cats that I have make an unholy stink in my basement constantly. I'll tell you what, here's a disgusting little bit of trivia for you. When we were making this movie "Tropic Thunder" in Hawaii, a lot of people got sick on that set from something called Leptospirosis which massive pooh inhalation or -- something from the mud. There is a lot of every animal in God's creation was poohing into this mud and we were working in it and a great deal of people got really, really sick.

This is a fascinating story, guys. I'm so glad you showed up. And considering that the symptoms are like a cross between mono and food poisoning...


BARUCHEL: I was one of the few people that didn't get sick, which I was like super psyched about. And I was like, oh, that's just because I grew up around cat pooh and didn't wash my hands every time after cleaning the litter boxes. I do now, I clean them, I wash my hands every time I clean little boxes but I've grown with them. I've had cats since I was a kid.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: You're just tough.

BARUCHEL: That's all.


BARUCHEL: Exactly. If nothing else, I have a high tolerance for pooh.


STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Stick around, more with Jay Baruchel after this.

BARUCHEL: Please do.


STROUMBOULOPOULOS: All right. Coming up, Jay talks about the things that keep it simple. I'll give you a hint. It involves stories.



STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Welcome back. Hang out with Jay Baruchel. I want to go back to the movie for just a second. Let me go back to Jay. Are you a religious person?

BARUCHEL: Well, that's a tough question to answer. I suppose yes and no. I was kind of raised in two faiths growing up. My mom was Catholic and my dad was Jewish, and we were sort of, you know, mom read the bible to me when I was a little kid like two or years or something. But even back then, she's sort of read it to me with this sort of caveat of, remember, God didn't write this, men wrote this, you know.

And that's fair enough. I'll give the ultimate cop-out answer, I'm probably agnostic. I think certainty is arrogance. And boy, if there is a heaven, I'll feel like a shmuck if I was an atheist, I show up there. So, can I change my opinion now -- I just came in anyway, guys?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: One the traditional definition of the bible, if there's a heaven, I don't think agnostics are getting in either.

BARUCHEL: No, probably not. But I think I have a better shot. I guess to be -- I guess hooky for a second, I would be lying if I said that I hadn't seen some things in my life which led me to believe that there was a kind of connectedness to things. Whatever that is, whatever is behind that, I definitely -- I've seen something.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What kind of things?

BARUCHEL: Well, sometimes there's -- you notice patterns, you notice some tension, you noticed sort of things happen a certain way that they should. You know, good or bad. I've just, I've been able to see this sort of -- and again, this is all -- this might just be the delusions of a pothead, but I have seen a music and a math in my life that independent of what I have to do with it. And I just like -- I don't know, it can't hurt to keep my mind open.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: A lot of people want to feel like they have some sense of control over their life. Are you one of those people?

BARUCHEL: Indeed, yes, yes.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That's something that can be taken away from you.

BARUCHEL: It does. I suppose. I have to say though. There's times where it's nice to breathe a bit easier and just forfeit control to some higher power. And you know, like, I just -- I think I'll find control in the places where it allows itself to be found. You know, what I can control is the food I eat, what I do with my frees time, and hopefully, you know, what I do with, you know, what I do for a living, for the most part any way. Because there's so much other stuff you can't control and their lies madness to get upset to all of it. So, I guess, yes and no.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It's so good to see you, man.

BARUCHEL: Likewise, buddy.


BARUCHEL: Thank you. Thank you.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Jay Baruchel, everybody. We'll be right back.


Next on STROUMBOULOPOULOS, when artists become political. We head East with Ellen Page to talk about her new movie.



STROUMBOULOPOULOS: All right. Welcome back here on the program. The person that's about to sit here in the red chair has carved out a really interesting career so far. She's been able to do big movies like "X-Men," "Deception." Smaller movies like -- academy award nomination for that. I think if she wants to be, she can be the next Katharine Hepburn. And she has found a way to carry that inspiration with the next movie called "The East." Welcome Ellen Page.


ELLEN PAGE, ACTRESS: Good to see you.




PAGE: Thank you. Thank you.


PAGE: I'm good.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Nice to see you down here.

PAGE: Nice to be here with you.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: There's a million of things that we can talk about. But on "The East," I know that you're an interested person at what happens in the world. When you get into a movie where you're talking about something that is of the time, corporate responsibility, poisoning the earth, groups trying to hold them accountable, is that more exciting for you to get into that kind of thing?

PAGE: Yes, I mean, you know, firstly I was just such a fan and admirer of Brit Marling and Zal and I loved the "Sound of My Voice." And to get a script that is so personally just so beautifully written, so beautifully written and compelling, and thrilling relentlessly suspenseful and thrilling but then full of so many things and topics that I personally think about, and I think a lot of people are thinking right now. And of course makes it that much more enticing and interesting to sort of explore your own anger and your own frustration, which is I think very palpable right now with people, regardless of where you are on the political spectrum or whether you're Christian or atheist or whatever, you know?


PAGE: Interesting time to be alive. And you know how you do it.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What did you first identify in yourself that you're like, oh, wait a minute, I do have this frustration and this anger and this other thing?

PAGE: You know, actually, two, a lot of the anger could be at one's self. You know, that's what makes it complicated. It's like every morning that I open my eyes, I'm willingly oppressing a lot of people, you know, because of just the way our society is structured.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: We also -- affordable groceries and cars and the way it works.

PAGE: Exactly.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That ultimately one country's gain is off at the expense of others.

PAGE: Of course. I mean, you know, we have a system that is absolutely profit before people. You know? Economic system that's based on just exponential growth, which you know, just constant, constant growth, which reflects nothing in the natural world. And leads to finding the poorest people in countries with the worst regulations to exploit. And like I then, you know, it get my iPhone and tweet.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: -- This effort, at least many artist, you have to be committed, and committing means, you have to be OK with being vulnerable. Are you OK with that?

PAGE: Yes. I mean, I think it's so funny vulnerability. I think to be vulnerable requires a lot of courage, and I think it's funny that we see vulnerability as a weakness. I see vulnerability as this brave way of opening and way of relating to one another. And my job is so fantastic, because I get paid to go to work to go to all kinds of different parts of myself, and really go through a lot of emotional turmoil, you know? And --

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: People watch "Hard Candy" and then watch all the other stuff you've done, you haven't necessarily taken the easy road.

PAGE: But I mean, I wouldn't want to. I mean, it's funny when people say oh, that must have been really challenging because you were, you know, on the basement floor being tortured or whatever. And I mean, it is and it can be difficult. But there's also something incredible about having that release, quite frankly. And I just think when you go about your life every day, that's so not allowed, you know, where we live in a time where sort of expressing emotion is seen as weakness. I think it's absolutely the exact opposite.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Let's go back a little bit for a second.



UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: We never get to see you anymore. We're asleep when you come home and asleep when you go to the bed. It's not fair.


STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That's early on for you, right?

PAGE: That was my very first acting job. When I was 10-years-old.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That's unbelievable.

PAGE: Yes, I've hardly grown, so. Yes.

(LAUGHTER) STROUMBOULOPOULOS: More with Ellen right after this.


All right. Coming up. The danger of tweeting early in the morning. More with Ellen, next.



STROUMBOULOPOULOS: We're back here. Ellen Page is here. Has a film called "The East." So, what I love about anybody who makes a film with any political component to it, is I can't wait for the backlash. I think it's super exciting.

PAGE: Uh-huh.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Are you prepared for it? Do you think about that?

PAGE: Oh, yes, I don't really care at all. I mean, what's funny about this movie is when people are like, call it like, oh, it's an idea movie or you know, trying -- it's funny to me because everything that happens in the movie is something that has happened or is happening, you know? And it's to me just so profoundly relevant and doesn't offer a different window of perspective into certain goings on that we're not used to seeing. Then sure, everything in the movie is stuff that's real.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Do you plot out the kinds of choices you want to make? Do you plot out the sorts of films you want to make? Do you look at I want to do this or that?

PAGE: No, maybe I should. You know? Like maybe if they like my own detriment, that I'm like, oh, what's the next good career -- I'm not very good at that. I really just, things come along, and if they speak to me and I feel passionate about it and I want to live with it and explore it or work with certain people, then I want to do it. It's that simple.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Are you good with stress?

PAGE: I don't know. Some would say yes, some would say no.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Who would say no?

PAGE: Maybe depends on the stress.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What would you say?

PAGE: Internally, I feel like no, but I feel like I make it seem like I'm good with stress. Do know what I'm saying?

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Fake it until you make it.

PAGE: Yes, exactly. STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I want to read it. Here's a tweet from yours which made me laugh.

PAGE: Oh my word. OK.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Shop until you drop, at least until the sad tingling of emptiness is tamed. The lil gnawing in the liver. Clear out the toxins with fox skins.

PAGE: I think I had just woke up and I wrote that. I was like, you know, this is a good idea. Oh, my lord. Yes.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What was that, just one day, you watch so many commercials --

PAGE: I think I was reading the latest ad busters. You know, it's always puts you on that space. And I mean, that's -- you know, we consume too much. I think that's obvious.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: If there's such a bizarre edition to this business that you can reach out to people. Like twitter has become amazing for news gathering, and amazing for people who wouldn't otherwise be heard to be heard. The -- we function is one of the most important function. But in the early days, it was really just a place where people wanted to see what celebrities thought. Have you found yourself in the post tweet moment where like, I shouldn't do that?

PAGE: No, I think twitter is really interesting, actually. I love it. And I mean some like Megan Amram on, you know, who writes for Parks and Recreation, and I mean her tweets just like make my life like I love her. You know? And I want to follow Bill Mckibben and I want to know what is doing and I want to learn and --

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: You met Bill Mckibben, Right?

PAGE: I did. Yes.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What was it like?

PAGE: I mean, amazing. It was like --

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Like a leader, we're talking about environment.

PAGE: Incredible writer, incredible writer. He wrote this book called "Deep Economy" that I read, I mean, a few years ago and it was just one of those books that you read that is just so paradigm shifting and so profoundly powerful. He's incredible what he's doing and what 350 is doing. So, you know, I think twitter is amazing for something like that, obviously. And it gives people a place to express themselves who otherwise, you know, don't have as easy as a time with those that, you know, have a lot of money or corporate backing. You know? So, it's pretty radical when you think about it, and then it's also just funny and fun.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It's always a pleasure to see you. Thanks, Ellen.

PAGE: Thanks, George.

STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Ellen Page, everybody.


The film is called "The East." You can see it now. That's our program. Thanks so much for hanging out with us again. We'll see you next week.