Elliot Page has shared a personal experience during the filming of Inception, where he contracted shingles due to the stress he faced regarding his gender identity and sexuality at the time.
In his recently released memoir, Pageboy, the 36-year-old actor, known for his role in Umbrella Academy, candidly discusses his life as a transgender person in Hollywood.
Page reflects on his role as Ariadne in Christopher Nolan’s 2010 blockbuster, which featured a star-studded cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and Cillian Murphy.
During the shoot, Page developed shingles, a viral infection characterized by a painful rash. He attributed the onset of the illness to the pressure he felt as part of “a cast full of cis men.”
“While filming Inception at the age of twenty-two, shingles appeared on my spine,” Page revealed in his memoir.
Despite enjoying the company of his co-stars, he admitted to feeling out of place. “In a cast dominated by cis men, I struggled to understand my role,” Page added. He even joked during the initial two weeks of filming that he might be replaced by Keira Knightley, believing it would be a justifiable decision.
In the movie, Page portrayed an architecture student recruited by Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) and Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) to construct dreamscapes. This film was made over a decade before Page underwent his gender transition and before publicly coming out as a lesbian while still presenting as female.
Page delves further into his experiences exploring relationships with women. At the time of Inception’s release, he was involved in a secret romance with a woman who was “out” and surrounded by a community of queer women.
He described feeling unsettled and out of place, internally grappling with chaotic emotions and struggling to find hope. “My body held onto unexamined emotions, sensations, desires, and needs,” Page shared, expressing the difficulty he faced in verbalizing his thoughts.
Page’s memoir also includes other revelations, such as an affair with actress Kate Mara, who was in a relationship with Max Minghella during that time. Reflecting on this relationship, Page stated that it occurred after publicly coming out as gay, representing a period of exploration and heartbreak. He also acknowledged a pattern of falling for individuals who were emotionally unavailable.
Additionally, Page disclosed that during the filming of Juno, he had a sexual relationship with his co-star Olivia Thirlby. The encounters took place in various settings, including hotel rooms, trailers on set, and even a small private room in a restaurant. Page expressed irony in feeling a sense of autonomy while playing a pregnant teenager in Juno, as it allowed him to break free from hyperfeminization and envision a space beyond gender binaries.
Page’s memoir, which was released on June 6, provides readers with a deeply personal and introspective look into his journey as a transgender individual in the entertainment industry. By sharing these experiences, Page hopes to inspire understanding, acceptance, and progress for the LGBTQ+ community.