Hollywood wanted to turn the actress into a typical young star. She had other plans
By Sam Anderson | nytimes.com
Ellen Page, the actress, found Ted Cruz, the presidential candidate, eating a pork chop at the Iowa State Fair. A cloud of barbecue smoke tumbled around in the pocket of air between them. Like all serious candidates, Cruz had come to Des Moines to speechify and work the crowd in hopes of eventually getting to the White House. Page had come in hopes of speaking with Cruz. A superstar of the Christian Tea Party right, Cruz was traveling the country preaching a gospel of border control, gun rights, the tyranny of the federal government and — with special passion — the growing crisis of gay marriage. Page was one of the most famous young gay people in the world — an Oscar-nominated actress who, after building her career in the closet, came out, very publicly, in an emotional speech on Valentine’s Day 2014. (It has been viewed more than five million times on YouTube.) Now Page and Cruz stood on opposite sides of a giant grill, in the midst of many camera crews, inhaling particulate pork. It was a strange new front in a very old culture war. But battles happen where they happen, and soldiers fight where they find each other.
Page was here in her capacity as the host of a TV show called ‘‘Gaycation,’’ still in development for Vice, for which she had been traveling the world to speak with friends and foes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in such far-flung places as Japan, Jamaica, Brazil and now Des Moines. Cruz had refused the show’s request for an official interview, so Page and the crew tracked him down as he schmoozed across the fairgrounds — Page actually climbed a small fence to get close. Now she stood there wondering how exactly to start. Cruz wore an apron that said ‘‘Pork: be inspired’’; he held his foil-wrapped chop in one hand while making studied political gestures with the other. How do you properly interrupt a man performing presidential small talk? Page wondered. She didn’t want to seem rude.
‘‘Senator,’’ she finally said. ‘‘Can I ask you a question?’’
Ted Cruz turned to look.
Ellen Page is tiny; at just over 5 feet tall, she came up to the armpits of some of the people around her. She wore large sunglasses and a baseball cap.
‘‘Sure,’’ Cruz said.
What followed was one of the more remarkable moments of the election season: a back-and-forth about the nature of freedom and persecution that went on for nearly six minutes — not exactly Lincoln versus Douglas, but a sound-bite eternity.
Page prodded Cruz on the historical invocation of religious liberty to justify discrimination. Cruz countered that Martin Luther King Jr. had called upon Christians to help end segregation. Page pointed out that gay employees in the United States could be fired for their sexuality. Cruz invoked ISIS. They jockeyed over Jamaica, Uganda and Obama.
The exchange produced, to my mind, no clear winner — they were having different conversations, each refusing to accept the other’s terms. The most remarkable thing, to me, was Page’s composure. Among conservatives, Ted Cruz’s debating skills are legendary: He was the star of Princeton’s debate team in the early ’90s, a key player in the postelection wrangling of Bush v. Gore before he turned 30 and, in 2013, the man who shut down the United States government using only the sound of his voice. Page, who is 28, has been working as an actor since she was 10 — her newest film, ‘‘Freeheld,’’ is her 22nd. At the age when many kids go off to college, she was filming ‘‘X-Men: The Last Stand.’’ And yet, during the long conversation with Cruz, Page did not seem nervous, deferential, sniping or off-balance. In fact, she was alert, quick, insistent and polite. She seemed to be driven by a profound moral seriousness.
Read the fantastic (very long) full article at NYTimes