Elliot Page on Fame, How Hollywood Is “Pretty Toxic” and Why LGBTQ+ “Is Not Niche”

On Thursday, Elliot Page brought the European premiere of Close to You to BFI Flare, the London LGBTQIA+ film festival, in a special presentation. On Friday, the star spoke at the British capital’s Southbank Centre about the movie, written and directed by Dominic Savage (I Am…), Hollywood and how it can be “pretty toxic,” his career, his coming out, and why the label “niche” doesn’t apply to the LGBTQ+ community.

“Thirty percent of young people identify as LGBTQ+, so I’m sorry, this is not niche,” Page said to much applause. “That really, really irks me. If you told really specific stories about cis-het people, I’m not calling that plot niche.”

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Asked about Hollywood and its challenges, Page said: “Obviously, there are great people in Hollywood. It’s more the model. It’s a system, and it’s pretty toxic. Those were just a lot of my experiences. I think it actually makes a lot of people really unhappy.”

And he shared his views on fame. “I find it so funny, this societal obsession with fame,” he said. “Every story told about fame — biopic or fictional or what have you — how does it end? It does not end well.”

Added Page: “I’m sure some people love being celebrities. And all the power to you. But for the most part, I’ve noticed, it doesn’t do great things to people. And I think that’s what we see in all the narratives we tell. So it’s so funny to me that we have this sort of obsession with it.”

The star also shared on Friday that he was “some of the most miserable I’ve ever felt” when nominated for an Oscar for Juno in 2008. “You certainly don’t feel like you can tell people you feel miserable,” Page said.

But nowadays Page feels looser and better after coming out as queer in 2014 and then as a trans man in 2020. Coming out “as queer was a massive step forward, to getting closer to who I really am,” the star told the audience in London on Friday. “That lifted so much weight off my shoulders. I was very closeted. I didn’t go out on a date or hold someone’s hand up to when I was 27 years old. I was very closeted. And it felt like, if I don’t do anything, something really bad is going to happen. I’m not okay.”

Continued Page: “Coming out as queer massively changed and improved my life, laid the groundwork for the next step.”

Asked about the experience of coming out as trans, Page said that amounted to “finally ridding myself of my own internalized transphobia and accepting my identity and really choosing to live my life.”

Close to You, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, is Page’s first feature film since 2017. It is sees Page portray Sam, a trans man returning to see his family in small-town Canada and meeting an old school friend, played by Hillary Baack (Sound of Metal), forcing him to confront old feelings. Page developed the story with Savage. Largely improvised, the film features little scripted dialogue.

Page lauded the work of the intimacy coordinator on the feature who asked “very specific questions … and in a very respectful way.” Page explained that, “I’ve never ever had this before, and I’ve been working since I was 10 years old,” including difficult and intense scenes since age 16. The star recalled one case, saying “in that specific case, I was not protected at all. It was an awful experience, and with a much older man.” Concluded Page: “People should be taken care of.”

Page also discussed his memoir Pageboy, in which he recounts everything from his Oscar-nominated film career to becoming a prominent transgender person, as well as his production firm Page Boy Productions.

And Page shared his excitement about shooting some action sequences for the final season of Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, which will debut on the streamer in August. “I was having so much fun,” he said. “I was like six years old in my bedroom.”

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