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Julianne Moore Hopes Her New Movie Freeheld Helps Fight Homophobia: 'The More Openness You Have, the More Tolerant You Become'

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Peter Hapak

Julianne Moore hopes her new film will entertain – and maybe even help eradicate homophobia.

The actress stars alongside Ellen Page in Freeheld, which is based on a true story. Moore plays Laurel Hester, a New Jersey police officer who – after being diagnosed with terminal cancer – fights to leave her pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Page).

“I feel that discrimination of any kind happens because people pursue other people as ‘other,’ as different from themselves, as far away. Whether it’s gender or race or sexual identity or culture, if we think that they’re very far away from us, then we think: ‘Oh, that’s not like us,’ ” Moore told reporters at the film’s premiere Sunday night at the Toronto International Film Festival.

“The closer you bring it to yourself, the more information you have, the more openness you have, the more tolerant you become. It’s very hard to feel that someone standing right next to you is different than you are.”

The Oscar winner, 54, was thrilled the project was also an outlet for her passion for advocacy, saying she hopes it opens some people’s eyes to LGBT rights.

“I think that’s one of the things that films can do: We go to them because they reflect ourselves, our lives, our hopes, our dreams,” Moore added. “The most exciting thing a person can say to me is: ‘Oh my gosh, that was my story. That was just like me!’ So when you see something like that and you have an emotional connection to it then right away, you feel like: ‘Oh, I know that.’ ”

In addition to the story itself, Moore was excited to work with Page, who brought her girlfriend, Samantha Thomas, to the premiere.

“It was such a pleasure. I adore her. We hadn’t met, we hadn’t worked together before, and she just comes towards everything with so much sensitivity and openness and honesty and a willingness to engage, and she was a true partner to me, like onscreen and off,” Moore said of Page.

As for their chemistry? It came naturally.

“You know, you never, you don’t know if it’s going to happen as an actor or not. Sometimes you can actually have chemistry onscreen and not feel it in real life, but Ellen and I felt it,” Moore added.

For full coverage of the 2015 Toronto Film Festival – including the hottest premieres, the biggest stars and the buzziest films – check out people.com/tiff, instyle.com and ew.com