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Elliot Page celebrates first film as leading actor at the Toronto International Film Festival

Sixteen years ago, Elliot Page took the Toronto International Film Festival by storm as the breakout star of Jason Reitman’s Oscar-nominated comedy, Juno. Flash-forward to 2023, and the actor returned to TIFF for his latest film, Close to you – Page’s first leading role since coming out as transgender in 2020.

The film’s director, Dominic Savage, confirmed that the film is heavily rooted in Page’s own journey.

“This film was made with Elliot, for Elliot and thanks to Elliot,” the filmmaker said beforehand Close to youSunday’s world premiere, with Yahoo Entertainment in attendance.

Page himself was also at the premiere – one of the few actors to appear on a TIFF red carpet amid Hollywood’s twin strikes by the Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. (As an independent production, Close to you was considered for an interim deal with SAG-AFTRA, which allowed Page to attend the festival.) After the screening, the actor took the stage to cheers and applause from the audience, calling the film “one of the most incredible experiences of my career ‘. .”

Page walks the red carpet for the world premiere of Close to you at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Close to you cast Page as Sam, who returns to his hometown of Cobourg, Ontario, for his father’s birthday after four years in Toronto. It won’t be an easy homecoming: After battling depression for most of his adolescence, Sam has found happiness as a trans man. But his family still struggles with his evolution, and the lingering tensions become apparent as soon as he walks through his front door. His mother accidentally makes him wrong and berates herself for her mistake; his older sister admits she feels like she doesn’t know him; and his brother-in-law openly makes bigoted comments and offers half-hearted apologies under duress.

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At the same time, Sam also experiences moments of love and joy. Both his mother and father fully support his transition and tell him how proud they are that he is living his truth. And Sam also reconnects with his high school crush, Katherine (Hillary Baack) – a reunion that stirs up long-buried feelings in both their hearts. And it’s Katherine who really sees the person Sam always was. “You look so good,” she tells him at one point, to which Sam replies, “It’s good to look in the mirror and say, ‘There’s that guy. I was wondering where he was. ‘”

According to Page, Sam and Katherine’s relationship was the starting point for his early conversations with Savage. “When he first talked about this idea, it was mainly about meeting someone from your past – that was the first spark that got us interested,” the actor recalls. “And then it turned into going home to family. That journey and the complexity and the nuanced elements of those relationships with family were all things that ended up being a big part of the story.”

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(L-R) Director Dominic Savage, actors Hillary Baack and Elliot Page arrive at the premiere of

Close to you director Dominic Savage, Hillary Baack and Page at the film’s world premiere at TIFF. (Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Page revealed that too Close to you is completely improvised – something he was initially concerned about. “I was so nervous before I went into this,” the actor admitted, adding that some takes lasted up to 50 minutes as the cast made up their dialogue on the spot. “I thought, ‘What the hell, I can’t improvise!’ It was nerve-wracking, but when we started, you disappeared.”

Speak with Variety Ahead of the film’s world premiere, Page discussed the way his own experience as a trans man became part of Sam’s DNA. “If someone misinterprets me, I don’t take it personally,” he noted, referring to the scene where Sam’s mother says “her” instead of “him.”

“If someone apologizes, that’s great,” Page continued. “But let’s move on to the next moment in our interaction. Let’s move on before it becomes a bigger thing and is about the person who did the misgendering turning into a whole different energy. These things last a second. all correct. “

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Jennifer Garner, Elliot Page and JK Simmons speak on stage during the 94th Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theater at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 27, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Chris Polk/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images)

Juno co-stars Jennifer Garner, Page and JK Simmons reunite at the 94th Academy Awards in 2022. (Chris Polk/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images)

Close to you also features Page’s first love scene as the lead actor, and the actor also has several shirtless scenes that reveal the scars of his masculinization surgery on the chest. “During the shoot the day I got out of bed and got dressed, it was a little awkward, like, ‘Oh, it would be great, he sleeps shirtless,'” the actor recently shared. Entertainment weekly. “It just felt natural. Showing this guy feeling comfortable and present and waking up in his body means a lot to me. I never thought I would feel like that, so it’s nice to be able to do that doing.”

Afterwards you will address an enthusiastic audience Close to youIn the world premiere, Page made it clear that he would like more opportunities to stretch his acting muscles. “I would love to work with Dominic again,” the actor said, praising the director’s improvisation-friendly approach. “It’s the purest joy of acting – [the scene] goes on and on and deepens.”

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