Elliot Page on filming liberating shirtless scene: ‘I never thought I’d feel that way’

Elliot Page turned down role due to a feminine costume. (Getty)

Elliot Page has opened up about how much it meant to him to film a shirtless scene in his upcoming feature film Close to You – his first film since coming out as transgender.

The Oscar nominee hasn’t appeared on the big screen in a few years but is back with a bang in this independent film, which is already earning rave reviews after debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Close to You tells the story of Sam (Page), a trans man reluctantly heading home for a family reunion. While dealing with the heaviness of small-town minds and confronting long-buried memories, Sam bumps into an old flame – the one that got away.

One scene in the heavily improvised film sees Sam climb out of bed one morning, getting dressed, and heading downstairs.

The scene might sound relatively straightforward, but for Page, it meant the world.

Elliot Page has opened up about filming his new movie Close To You.
Elliot Page has opened up about filming his new movie Close To You. (Getty Images)

Thinking back to the day he filmed the scene, Page told Entertainment Weekly: “Shooting on the day, I was getting out of bed and getting dressed, it was sort of clumsy, like, ‘Oh, it would be great, he sleeps shirtless.’

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“In the moment when you’re making this, you’re making it from this instinctual place that I don’t know how to describe. It just sort of happens, but at the same time, it just felt natural.”

The actor gushed: “Showing this dude who’s comfortable and present and waking up in his body, that means a lot to me. I never thought I’d feel that way, so it’s nice to get to act it.”

Page went on to share that playing Sam in Close to You is a major career highlight for him, and marks the most comfortable he has ever felt playing a character.

“The way I get to feel working now is far more embodied coming from that foundation, versus entering and not feeling that way,” he explained.

“It’s a huge shift. Doing something like this, complete improv, before, would’ve been close to impossible.”

Elliot Page talks at the Library of Congress National Book Festival.
Elliot Page has spoken about how much it meant to him to be able to film a shirtless scene. (YouTube/Library of Congress)

“The sensation of being able to do it and feel that present enough to do it, I just felt exhilarated every day. What a special film to do, first time [back on film], because it lets you feel embodied to the extreme.”

Since coming out as transgender, Page has opened up about the discomfort he experienced in previous acting roles.

In his memoir Pageboy, he revealed that the anxiety of working on the set of Inception alongside a cast “full of cis men” made him feel so anxious and “out of place” that he developed shingles.

Elsewhere in the book, he shared that he had his agents turn down a highly “sought after” role that would have required him to wear women’s period-style clothing.

So, it was a thrill for Page when he got to watch Close to You for the first time and see himself look so comfortable on-screen.

“When I was the most uncomfortable, in those [past] performances, you’re a little more stiff, you’re less loose.

“There’s less ability to kind of go with the flow in the present moment.”