- Elliot Page once backed out of a “sought-after role” so he didn’t have to wear a feminine costume.
- He wrote in his memoir that the prospect of wearing a dress and wig made him “want to kill myself.”
- For Page, it was “too much” as “the role I played in my personal life was suffocating me already.”
Elliot Page revealed that he backed out of a “sought-after role” in a period drama because the idea of having to wear a period-appropriate costume for it brought him to the brink.
Writing in his memoir, “Pageboy,” which was released Tuesday, Page recalled how shortly after the awards campaign for his breakout movie “Juno” ended — culminating in four Oscar nominations and one win at the 2008 Academy Awards — he accepted a role very unlike the ones he had done before.
“After awards season concluded, I was supposed to make a film in England. It was based on a famous book, and I was attached as the main character, a sought-after role,” he wrote.
Page said that although his “agents excitedly spoke of the opportunity,” he couldn’t quite muster up the same level of enthusiasm as the idea of wearing old-fashioned feminine garb for the role made him feel uneasy.
At the time, Page was in his early twenties and had not yet announced publicly that he (while still presenting as female) was attracted to women. According to his memoir, he was also dealing with gender dysphoria, something he had been experiencing since childhood.
“I would imagine myself in a woman’s costume from the mid-nineteenth century,” he wrote. “The dress, the shoes, the hair, flashed before my eyes. It was too much after having put on the mask for awards season.”
“I understood that if I were to do it, I would want to kill myself,” he added.
While Page did not name the film, Variety reported in 2008 that the actor had been cast in a new big-screen adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre,” penned by writer Moira Buffini.
After Page dropped out, it took more than three years for the film — which was taken on by director Cary Fukunaga — to make it to theaters. Mia Wasikowska was recast as the eponymous heroine, while Michael Fassbender played the part of Mr. Rochester.
“It was too much to play a role on-screen when the role I played in my personal life was suffocating me already,” Page wrote. “I pushed myself to dispel the truth for fear of banishment, but I was despondent, trapped in a dismal disguise. An empty, aimless shell.”
“I ended up backing out of the film,” he added.
“It wasn’t easy to explain to my reps that I couldn’t take on a role because of clothing,” the Canadian-born actor wrote. “A face would scrunch up and tilt sideways, ‘But you’re an actor?’ Wardrobe fittings for films ripped at my insides, talons gashing my organs.”
The actor said that while trying on outfits for photo shoots and premieres, he would end up “spiraling into a deep depression, anxiety boisterous.”
“I cringed at the way people lit up when seeing me in feminine clothing, as if I had accomplished a miraculous feat,” Page wrote.
Page recalled how at the “Juno” world premiere, he was “planning on wearing jeans and a western(ish) shirt,” something that thought “was a cool look.” However, he was quickly shot down.
“When the Fox Searchlight publicity team learned about my outfit, they urgently took me to Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street, with a dramatic rushing that is characteristic of the Hollywood circulatory system,” he wrote. “I suggested a suit. They said I should wear a dress and heels.”
Page wrote that he received a call from the film’s director, Jason Reitman, who “said he agreed with them, insisting that I play the part.” (Representatives for Reitman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
However, Page pointed out the irony that her costar Michael Cera turned up to the red carpet wearing sneakers, slacks, and a collared shirt.
“He looked fancy to me. I wonder why they didn’t take him to Holt Renfrew. I guess he had nothing to hide, he was approved. He fit the part,” the actor said.
“Pageboy” by Elliot Page is out now.