"I can honestly only go by my specific experience and I would imagine there are specific differences and obstacles."
Ellen Page assures me that a live table read is definitely a fun night out even if I think it sounds like something I'd want to take a rain check on.
The Oscar-nominated actress is playing it again Sam in this year's table read as Rick Blaine, to Kiersey Clemons' Ilsa Lund in a lesbian twist to the 1942 classic film Casablanca.
Last year, she and director Jason Reitman reunited for a reading of their film Juno, and despite what I may think, plenty of others feel differently because they sold out just as they have every year for five seasons.
I ask Page if actors just sit around a table in front of an audience with their faces planted in a script, she laughs at my misconception.
“No, it’s a read and I get it—I get what you’re saying,” she chuckles. “Everybody’s sitting and there’s a stand and there’s a script on the stand and then behind everybody are projected images and stills corresponding with the time in the film and I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to describe it. I’ve been fortunate to do a few readings and they are absolutely magical nights,"
Of course, seeing Page act in any capacity is well worth the price of admission, but proceeds from this particular show are going to a good cause, one near and dear to Page's heart, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Page came out publicly in 2014 and has been a fierce advocate for LGBT rights for many years.
"Astraea is a foundation that works with other organizations and activists in terms of grants and supporting grassroots organizations that really focus on the most marginalized and vulnerable members of the community; they do extraordinary work," she explains. "So I started working with them and I am humbled and honored to continue to."
The choice to do Casablanca as the next in the project came from Reitman himself. Page says it was a great idea and even prompted her to re-watch the film. She says there are some great people behind it.
"This Casablanca live read and the cast they’re putting together--I strongly, strongly suggest people get tickets and come ‘cause it’s going to be fantastic."
Page was one of the first mainstream female actors I had ever heard of to publicly come out right in the middle of her successful career. She's been nominated for just about every prestigious award in the business and taken home many.
More and more gay male actors have come out in recent years, and it doesn't seem to have ruined them. So I asked Page if she felt coming out is different for a female than it is a male if you're an A-lister.
“It’s so hard for me to know," she said. "I can honestly only go by my specific experience and I would imagine there are specific differences and obstacles. Specific ones that I’ll experience and specific ones that a gay man would experience and so I can’t speak for that. Obviously, this last decade quite frankly in terms of my identity and this industry. I can’t give really any definitive answer to that.”
She is also starring in Netflix's continuation of the Armistead Maupin series "Tales of the City" in 2019. I was hoping to get some inside info or plot details, she couldn't say anything except how excited she is to have worked with one of her idols.
“I feel so bad because I can barely tell you anything about that, they are really keeping that private," she says. "Of course that’s not me doing that, but I got to work with Laura Linney which you know, she is one of my favorites of all time, I couldn’t feel more grateful. And also, just an incredible cast in general. Yeah, I just finished shooting it. I just got back.”
She has returned to Los Angeles just in time for her table read of Casablanca, something she re-iterates as being very special.
“Yeah the writing is so amazing and the cast is just so incredibly talented and, you know, it's not recorded. It's this night for everybody who’s in the room and I just have to say, like every single one I’ve done is emotional and special and memorable, so I feel really lucky.”
I still have my doubts about it, but I am clearly the minority as ticketholders have sold out the venue every time in the past.
"You better try it out sometime," she tells me. "I hear what you’re saying and you’re going to go and you’re going to have a good time. I know it. You’re gonna say Ellen was right.”
The Casablanca reading will take place on Thursday, December 13 at the historic Ace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.