On screen, Ellen Page has played a pregnant teen, an X-Man and a dark metaphorical cousin to Chris Hansen. And now she will play one of us. The 21-year-old actress has been attached to the feature film adaptation of Freeheld, the true story of a terminally-ill lesbian’s struggle to pass her pension benefits to her partner.
Good As You reported on Friday that Cynthia Wade, the director of the Oscar-winning short documentary, was turning her film into a full-length feature with Ellen attached. Based on the life of Laurel Hester, Freeheld follows the New Jersey police detective lieutenant’s fight after her cancer diagnosis to give her pension survivor benefits to partner Stacie Andree. Ellen would play Stacie.
Laurel Hester (left) and partner Stacie Andree
Laurel, a 25-year veteran of the police force, and Stacie were registered domestic partners. But because they were not and could not be legally married her county freeholders (like a county supervisor, but in Jersey) denied Laurel’s request. So she fought them, while dying, for her rights. On Jan. 25, 2006, after extensive public outcry and Laurel’s own hospital-bed appeals, the freeholders reversed their decision and granted Stacie full benefits. Laurel died 25 days later.
The prospect of having ac actress as talented as Ellen star in a story as powerful as Laurel’s is beyond exciting. In a country where three states just repudiated (and in one just flat-out reversed — dammit, California) our right to marry, a film like this could go a long way to opening people’s hearts to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships.
Of course, before we start hailing the feature-version of Freeheld as the lesbian Philadelphia, the movie needs to get made. Wade has partnered with the producers of Erin Brockovich on the project. But she said it could take one to two years to get the script and — as we all know — a lot can happen in one to two years. Still, given that Ellen’s lesbian teenage werewolf movie has fallen through, this could be our best hope to finally see Ellen hug a woman with her legs in friendship, and then some.
So, what do you think? And, if we all put it on the top of our wish lists for Santa, do you think maybe they could write that script just a little bit faster?