A few years ago whenever an actor played a gay role, the word ‘brave’ would be routinely used. However more recently that designation has come under some scrutiny for suggesting someone should be praised for their ‘bravery’ simply because a character is LGBT – as if they’re doing something extraordinary.
It’s something Ellen Page has taken issue with when asked by Time magazine that, “Yours is the sort of performance people tend to call “brave.” What do you make of that word as relates to actors?”
She answered: ‘Maybe this is a bad thing to say, but I have a hard time when people call actors brave. I don’t really get that, because our job is to read something on a page.’
Time continued their line of questioning, suggesting that, “There really aren’t many movies about LGBTQ people, so it makes it more likely that actors are seemingly taking a career risk by appearing in one.”
Page countered, “When people are [called] brave in regards to playing LGBTQ people, that’s borderline offensive. I’m never going to be considered brave for playing a straight person, and nor should I be. It’s hard to say this, because the context of the film is so deeply tragic, but for me there was a deep sense of peace on set that I had not felt in a really long time, potentially since I was a teenager and first having these really beautiful, fortunate moments in films. There was something about being out, getting to play a gay character, and getting to play a woman who is so inspiring to me—it was such an amazing experience for me. Honestly, if I played gay characters for the rest of my career, I’d be thrilled. I wish I could, honestly!”
She also engages with the difficulty of terminology when asked what films she’s working on as a producer, including whether we should call something a ‘gay’ film. Page says, “I have two [upcoming projects] that are… ‘gay.’ That’s even a pain to have to call it that, but it’s about two people of the same sex. I’m interested in these stories. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to play a character who’s heterosexual, if it speaks to me. But I’m gay, so when I get to sit in a theater and watch Blue Is the Warmest Color, what an utter joy that is! Because you’re getting to watch something that’s at least close to something you’ve experienced as a gay woman. It’s probably more selfish.”