Ellen Page tweets out first signs of “Freeheld” production


At face value these are just a pair of dirty hands. But to those of us waiting (and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting some more) for the movie Freeheld to finally get off the ground, they’re the most glorious pair of dirty hands you’ve ever seen.


Yesterday tiny Canadian and everyone’s pretend girlfriend Ellen Page tweeted out this picture of her dirty hands from her “First mechanic lesson 4 #Freeheld.” This might seem confusing to the uninitiated to the Freeheld saga, but to those who have followed along it is the first physical sign we’ve seen of production on the film.

The movie is based on the short documentary by the same name which took home an Oscar in 2007. Freeheld chronicles the struggle of real-life lesbian couple and registered domestic partners Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree to pass Hester’s pension benefits to Andree. Hester, a veteran police detective, became terminally ill and wanted her partner Andree, an auto mechanic, to receive her rightful benefits. But the request was initially denied by her New Jersey freeholders (the equivalent of county supervisors everywhere else). Hester died in 2006.


Which brings us back to those dirty hands of Page’s. Back in 2008, that’s six years ago for the math adverse, Page was first attached to the project when the documentary’s filmmaker Cynthia Wade began working on a dramatic adaptation of the story. She signed on to play Andree, the mechanic half of the couple – hence the dirty hands in mechanic training. Now you see why those hands were so exciting.

The project has had an extremely long gestation period. I first wrote about Page coming onto the film in 2008 for AfterEllen. To put that in perspective, that’s the same year Apple launched the App Store. So, year, it’s been a while. Nothing much happened on the project for us to see except talk until last summer, when Page mentioned in an interview with Collider that she was still trying to get the movie made.


And since then, real things have started to come together. Julianne Moore signed on to play Hester. Steve Carell replaced Zach Galifianakis in the role of the founder of the civil rights group Garden State Equality. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist director Peter Sollett will helm the screenplay by Philadelphia scribe Ron Nyswaner, who has been with the project since near its start.

So much has happened, both in politics and culture landscape since 2008. Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states, including New Jersey which recognized the unions in 2013. And in February of this year Page came out herself in a speech for the Human Rights Campaign and became inseparable from her Tomboy cap.


To see signs finally that this film about an important gay rights issue will featuring an out gay actress will be turned into a reality is almost too much good news to process. Kuddos to Page and the filmmakers for sticking with Freeheld all these years. Now learn how to fix cars faster, Ellen. We’re ready.

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