Elliot Page revealed that “Juno” distributor Fox Searchlight demanded he wear a dress to the film’s premiere at Toronto in 2007.
Page, who came out as transgender in 2020, endured “intense depression, anxiety, and severe panic attacks” after his rise to stardom from the Jason Reitman-directed teen pregnancy dramedy. Page went on to land an Academy Award nomination for portraying a sarcastic teen who struggles with putting her unborn child up for adoption.
“When ‘Juno’ was at the height of its popularity, during awards-season time, I was closeted, dressed in heels and the whole look — I wasn’t okay, and I didn’t know how to talk about that with anyone,” Page told Esquire. “I think of times when people actively were like, ‘No, you need to wear a dress’ in very, very, very pivotal moments.”
He continued, “I remember the premiere of ‘Juno’ at the Toronto International Film Festival. I said I wanted to wear a suit, and Fox Searchlight was basically like, ‘No, you need to wear a dress.’ And they took me in a big rush to one of those fancy stores on Bloor Street. They had me wear a dress, and . that was that. And then all the ‘Juno’ press, all the photo shoots — [co-star] Michael Cera was in slacks and sneakers. I look back at the photos, and I’m like . . .?”
Page added that when previously doing press for “Hard Candy” or attending the Sundance Film Festival, he channeled his Canadian roots and “dressed how I wanted to dress — not dissimilar to now.”
“I’ve had to have plenty of devil’s-advocate conversations with cis people who were like, ‘Well, I’m not trans and I could wear a skirt!’ And it’s like, cool. Okay. Great,” Page said. “So yeah, in my early to mid-twenties, I didn’t know how to tell people how unwell I was. I would berate myself for it. I was living the life and my dreams were coming true, and all that was happening.”
The “Umbrella Academy” star clarified, “But when ‘Juno’ was blowing up — this sounds strange to people, and I get that people don’t understand. Oh, fuck you, you’re famous, and you have money, and you had to wear a dress, boo-hoo. I don’t not understand that reaction. But that’s mixed with: I wish people would understand that that shit literally did almost kill me.”
And Page added that while it may be “easy for people to roll their eyes,” the experience was traumatizing.
“That was really extremely, extremely fucked up,” Page said. “I shouldn’t have to treat it like just this thing that happened — this somewhat normal thing. It’s like: No. Regardless of me being trans! I’ve had people who’ve apologized about things: ‘Sorry, I didn’t know, I didn’t know at the time.’ It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter if I’m trans or cis. Lots of cis women dress how I dress. That has nothing to fucking do with it.”
Page credits longtime pal and fellow Oscar nominee Catherine Keener for teaching him to “live my truth and to take care of my heart” prior to coming out. And Page proudly pointed out that the clothing worn in “Juno,” which he picked out with a producer at used clothing stores in Vancouver, was “new for a film that reached the audience it reached.”
The style “related to my queerness and my transness,” but the distributor “squash[ed] that all away” with mainstream demands for the red carpet rollout.
“So you’re benefiting greatly from this character that connected with people, and then you do that. It’s gross,” Page said. “I wish I could go back and experience it now, as me.”