Ellen Page has just arrived home after spending nearly 2 weeks in Jamaica to film more of her documentary called “Gaycation” for Vice’s new channel that is set to air early next year. During her trip, she attended the country’s first LGBT Pride event in the Caribbean. Ellen was a surprise attendee at Saturday’s opening ceremony and flash mob, which attracted around 40 participants. In a statement to Gay Star News, Latoya Nugent, co-chair of Pride JA, described Page’s appearance as ‘magical and awe-inspiring.’
The breakneck pace of the same-sex marriage movement reached its legal conclusion in late June when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. This fall, the movie Freeheld — starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page — will historicize how one lesbian couple fought for domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples a decade ago, helping to pave the way to today.
Freeheld, directed by Peter Sollett (Raising Victor Vargas, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and written by Ron Nyswaner (an Oscar nominee for Philadelphia), is based on the true story of Laurel Hester (Moore) and Stacie Andree (Page), and adapted from Cynthia Wade’s Oscar-winning 2007 documentary short. When Laurel, a police detective in Ocean County, N.J., found out she had terminal lung cancer, she sought to leave her benefits to Stacie, her partner — only to be blocked (initially) by the county’s governing body of Freeholders. Like so many pivotal figures in the LGBT civil rights movement, Hester was an unlikely activist, driven first by personal necessity and then by robust, full-throated determination. (She died in 2006, and the events of Freeheld are set between 2002 and 2006.)
In a telephone interview with BuzzFeed News, Freeheld’s director Sollett said, “It’s not often in the movies that we get to talk about our heroes. And to me, Laurel Hester is a hero — I knew that as soon as I came to know her story.”
Freeheld tells two entwined stories, reflected in the film’s first trailer, debuting exclusively on BuzzFeed: The love story of Laurel and Stacie (who meet, naturally, in a volleyball league), and later the escalating battle of Laurel’s quest to make sure Stacie will receive her pension benefits.
“The political story and the personal story are one for me,” Sollett said. “It’s always our own sort of issues that pop up when we’re falling in love. But unfortunately on top of those, these women had to deal with the prejudice and the obstacles set up for them by their local government. But for me, they’re one in the same: The personal is the political.”
He said he was drawn to Freeheld because “it was simply the most beautiful script I had ever read.” He continued, “It’s a very rare thing to find a piece of material that so accurately expresses one’s views about the world.”
In the movie, Michael Shannon plays Dane Wells, Laurel’s police partner and straight friend to whom she is closeted until she no longer has a choice. But if Laurel had underestimated him, she soon realizes how much of an ally he wants to be. Rounding out the main cast, Josh Charles plays a sympathetic Freeholder and Steve Carell breaks type as a brash LGBT activist who takes up Laurel’s cause.
Sollett spoke of the three lead actors’ different approaches. Moore was “research-oriented, and took the beautiful documentary and the journalism that was available on the subject and really internalized it.” He said, “She made it her mission to become an expert on the life of Laurel Hester. And it infused her choices within the scenes, and this is an important guiding light for us because it kept us honest.” To play Dane, Shannon spent time with Wells, who was often on set. “It was really Dane’s warmth that I think brought Michael to such a large-hearted performance — the type of charismatic performance that I don’t think people expect of him,” Sollett said.
When he first met with Page, who is also a producer on Freeheld, she asked Sollett what he thought the movie was about. His response was simply: “It’s a love story.” In her role as Stacie, a mechanic who falls in love with the older, but less out Laurel, Sollett said, “With Ellen, an actress we know and love and I think audiences completely embrace, I don’t think it’s wrong to use the words breakthrough performance.”
“She feels different, her physicality is different — the transformation is new,” Sollett said of the actor, who came out in Feb. 2014. “That was thrilling. She was incredibly excited about that; she was being more honest. I think she was exposing more of her personal life, more of herself.”
Freeheld will be in limited release on Oct. 2, expanding on Oct. 16.
Ellen Page is attached to star in Lioness, an indie drama being developed and packaged by James Dahl, one of the producers of James Ponsoldt’s upcoming The End of the Tour.
Lioness tells the true story of Lance Corporal Leslie Martz, a U.S. Marine who was stationed in Haditha, Iraq.
Martz was sent to Afghanistan as a leader of a Female Engagement Team and tasked with the dual mandate of gaining the trust of Afghan women by equipping them with necessary skills for independence but also secretly extracting information from them about their Taliban husbands.
The soldier, who now lives in San Diego, was waging a personal war on several fronts. She was hiding the fact that was she was a gay woman in the military and on top of that found herself torn between the desire to prove herself and her superiors and the allegiance she developed toward the women and children whose strength and courage she grew to admire
Rosalind Ross, one of the writers of the El Rey Network’s action series Matador, penned the script. She will also act as a producer.
No director is on attached at this stage.
Ellen Page made headlines last year when she came out of the closet at 26, which is still a rare occurrence among younger actresses. Shortly before the landmark Supreme Court decision on Friday that legalized gay marriage, Page talked to Variety about how Hollywood helped pave the way for LGBT rights. The Oscar-nominated Juno actress will next play a lesbian in the upcoming drama Freeheld, which opens on October 2.
Variety’s 106-page marriage equality special issue includes more Q&As, including ones with Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Murphy.
How has your life changed since you came out?
I’m happier than I probably could imagine. Now it doesn’t feel like I was ever not out. It’s hard for me to imagine not existing in the way that I’m existing now. It boggles my mind that it seemed so difficult and so impossible. I wish I’d done it sooner, quite frankly. Some dark cloud has completely evaporated, thank goodness.
But it makes sense that it was difficult.
There are still not many young people out in Hollywood. There’s this narrative that people are attached to: You cannot come out because it’s going to hurt your career. And that’s potentially true. When I made the decision to come out, I wasn’t naive to that. Particularly when you’re in your late 20s and becoming a woman. First of all, there aren’t that many roles for you. And second, the roles that do exist, you’re specifically a device for the male character or you’re hypersexualized in regards to the male gaze. For whatever reason, people can believe straight actors playing gay roles, but there’s this idea they can’t believe gay actors playing straight roles. And for me, it got to a point where it didn’t matter.
How has your career changed?
I was feeling uninspired, and lost the love and joy I felt in making films. I’m gay — of course I want to play gay characters. To have the freedom to pursue that without any anxiety is nice.
Has coming out affected the other roles you’re being offered?
I don’t know, because I’m not in rooms when people are having discussions like that. But I don’t really care, to be honest.
Do you feel like Hollywood has advanced the acceptance of gay rights and marriage?
For sure. Aside from all the silliness of Hollywood and what we do, stories are told that are really important, and that touch people and transform how they feel about things, whether it’s been “Philadelphia,” “Brokeback Mountain” or “Milk.” And I think it definitely can change minds and push things forward.
Why haven’t there been gay hits since “Brokeback Mountain”?
Whenever you’re telling a story about a minority group, it’s potentially not as appealing because there’s a feeling it’s not going to get the audience a financier needs. I feel like that’s been proven wrong time and time again, particularly when you’re looking at the diversity on TV right now. You can tell that’s what people want.
Do you think we’ll get to a place where we can have a tentpole headlined by a gay character — like a gay “Spider-Man”?
That would be amazing. I can’t imagine that would happen next year. But maybe in 10 years.
What can Hollywood do better?
It’s so funny with Caitlyn Jenner, who has been so amazing to watch, how obsessed Hollywood is with the binary gender system. A huge thing before I was out was the dress on the carpet and the heels. It’s like, “This is what you have to do.” There was this pressure to look a certain way and be a kind of femininity, which is not what I identify with. If you see me in a dress I look like an idiot.
Do you still wear dresses on a red carpet?
I have not worn a dress since I came out. I wear suits. It’s made the experience of everything so much better.
How does it feel to be a role model to LGBT teens?
I feel extremely fortunate and humble when I have experiences with LGBT people who come up to me and say how I helped them come out. Those moments are really extraordinary. They are typically really emotional. The biggest feeling I get is gratitude. I totally stayed in the closet, and I felt guilty about it. I was finally able to get out, and that was my life journey. I’m interested in gay issues. It’s natural for that to be a part of my life.
Do you see yourself getting married one day?
Yeah, I’d like that.
Wow. So moved to hear such amazing news. What a beautiful day. Grateful to those who have worked so tirelessly for equality. #lovewins ????
— Ellen Page (@EllenPage) June 26, 2015
Since Monday I had been out of internet and was unable to post news. Instagram and Twitter have been kept updated by my lovely co-admin Cee. I have now posted the latest news below and updated the photo gallery with the most recent social media photos.
June 23, 2015
New cast announcement –
Into the Woods star Tammy Blanchard and Evan Jonigkeit from X-Men: Days of Future Past are joining Ellen Page and Allison Janney in the dramedy Tallulah.
Sian Heder is directing from her screenplay about a free spirit who everybody thinks has kidnapped a baby after she rescues the child from her reckless mother. The project was unveiled during Cannes and has started shooting in New York City.
Zachary Quinto, Uzo Aduba, David Zayas and John Benjamin Hickey round out the cast.
June 25, 2015
The Creators Project spoke to Ellen Page for their exclusive interview with Peaches about her newest book ‘What Else Is in the Teaches of Peaches’. A quote below:
“I think to see that at 16 when you’re navigating your own sexual desires or your way of identifying the world it was a really inspiring thing to see,” Ellen Page said. “I think that’s what Peaches music and also her shows gifts to people, whether you’re straight or gay or whatever.”
Click here for the complete interview.
June 26, 2015
There has been a new Kitty Pryde image released and a clip from the behind-the-scenes featurette for X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Cut, courtesy of Universo X-Men! You can check our Twitter and Instagram for credited content.
— Universo X-Men (@universoxmen) June 26, 2015
In this weeks issue of Entertainment Weekly, Ellen speaks out about her upcoming gay-rights film; Freeheld.
First look at Ellen Page and Julianne Moore in the gay-rights drama Freeheld
Recently out Page talks about the joy of her own liberation.
by Joe McGovern
June 12, 2015.
In the fight for equality, sometimes it takes the most heartbreaking stories to move the needle. Such was the case for Laurel Hester, an unassuming police detective whose bravery sparked a crucial turning point for domestic-partner rights in her home state of New Jersey. In 2005 Hester was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer and fought to have her pension benefits left to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree. Same-sex marriage wasn’t yet law in the state, and her request was denied by a five-man board of county representatives known (ironically) as freeholders. But the couple spent Hester’s last weeks battling for an appeal, which they won just before her death in 2006.
Their extraordinary story is the focus of the movie Freeheld (due Oct. 2), starring Julianne Moore as Laurel and Ellen Page as Stacie. Written by Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) and directed by Peter Sollet (Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist), the film is based on the transcendently moving Oscar-winning 2007 documentary short of the same title. Freeheld also boasts supporting turns from Steve Carell as a New Jersey gay-rights activist, Michael Shannon as Laurel’s straight-laced cop partner, and Josh Charles as one of the freeholders. The film has all the ingredients—stellar cast, social consciousness, huge emotional pull—to place it right in the conversation for next year’s Oscars.
“I remember just seeing the trailer for the documentary and I was instantly brought to tears,” says Page, who’s also a producer. “Tremendous love stories between women have been made, of course. Some of them are my favorite movies. But to have a love story that brings up the civil rights issue, in relation to women—that we haven’t seen enough in the forefront.”
Page, 28, also acknowledges the happy coincidence that the project went into production months after she came out in 2014. “It got to the point where it didn’t matter what I was doing in my life, there was always this cloud,” she says. “And to be shooting the movie so soon after coming out was some of the most joy I’ve ever felt on a film set, which is a tricky thing to say because we’re telling a story that’s incredibly tragic. But the feeling of being out and playing someone who’s gay, and someone whose courage has allowed me to live my life, that feels amazing. People like Laurel and Stacie are the reason I feel so happy in my life now.”
Entertainment Weekly’s LGBT Issue is in stores now, with Laverne Cox on the cover. EW.com