For Ellen Page, her latest project is also her most personal.
Playing one-half of a lesbian couple whose fight for domestic partner benefits made national headlines, Page has been attached to Freeheld for seven years – and says that in some ways the journey to make the film mirrored her own journey toward coming out last year.
“I remember thinking, ‘Ellen, how in God’s name could you make this film and not be out?’ ” Page tells Out magazine for its October cover story. “What’s interesting to me is how long it took to make the movie – for it to finally come together – and how my internal progression toward coming out was naturally in line with it.”
Page, 28, plays Stacie Andree in the film alongside Julianne Moore as Laurel Hester, a New Jersey police officer who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and wants to pass along her pension benefits to Andree. The local board of freeholders blocks the request despite state law allowing it, which prompts LBGT groups to fight for the couple at the meetings and spark headlines nationwide.
The Canadian-born star attached herself to the project at age 21 – not long after her breakout role in Juno – years before she came out publicly in February of last year.
“I’m here today because I am gay,” Page said at a conference to promote the welfare of LGBT young people as she came out. “And because maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time.”
The desire to help others in the LGBT community is something she reiterates to Out in the new interview – and says the bravery of her character played a role in her decision to come out.
“Stacie and Laurel’s story is incredibly inspiring and did take a lot of courage, particularly in a time of such unimaginable difficulty. It really did make me go, ‘Dude, just tell people you’re gay. Just get over yourself, honestly, and support those who are not as privileged. It’s like, ‘You have f—ing privilege, so do something with it.’ ”
Ellen Page s Newest Movie Gave Her The Courage To Be Herself
Moore, 54, said she was humbled to work with Page so soon after the young actress came out.
“This is going to sound silly, and hopefully not hurtful on my part, but I don’t think I was aware of how painful it is to be closeted,” Moore told the magazine. “I have the advantage of being a person who’s never had to hide my sexuality, so I asked her a lot of questions – frank questions – about what that feels like.”
“She was so unprotective [of herself],” Moore added. “I was very touched by that. It definitely made me more sensitive to the nuances of our movie.”
Freeheld debuts in theaters Oct. 2.