Ellen Page Thrilled to Star In the Upcoming Film Freeheld, A Lesbian Love (and Civil Rights) Story With Julianne Moore
"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."
Several months after Ellen Page came out as a lesbian last year, she began work on what ended up being the perfect project for her to be working on. Production began on a film called Freeheld, which stars Julianne Moore as a woman named Laurel Hester, a New Jersey police detective battling incurable lung cancer.
Set in the early 2000s (and based on a true story), Hester wants to leave her pension benefits to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree (played by Page). As this was at a time when same-sex marriages weren’t legal in NJ, her request was denied by a board of county representatives called freeholders. Hester and Andree spent Hester’s last months of life battling her appeal until she passed away in 2006. The subject matter is depressing, but working on the film – playing a lesbian and dealing with the civil rights implications of being LGBTQ in this country – allowed Page to feel freer than she’d ever felt before.
As reported in Entertainment Weekly, Page said:
It got to the point where it didn’t matter what I was doing in my life, there was always this cloud. 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.
Freeheld is based on a 2007 Oscar-winning documentary of the same name about Hester and Andree, and seeing that documentary inspired Page not only to star in the narrative film version, but to take on a producer role:
I remember just seeing the trailer for the documentary and I was instantly brought to tears. 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.
In addition to Page and Moore, Freeheld boasts a cast that includes Steve Carell as a gay-rights activist, Michael Shannon as Laurel’s cop partner, and Josh Charles as one of the freeholders. Written by Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) and directed by Peter Sollet (Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist), Freeheld is due to arrive in theaters October 2nd.
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