In 2005, Hester tried to pass on her pension benefits to her partner, Stacie Andree (Page), after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Page first heard of Laurel and Stacie’s story when she saw the 2007 Oscar-winning short documentary of the same name by Cynthia Wade. Hester died in 2006 – three weeks after the county board reversed their decision in her favor.
“I feel so grateful to feel how I feel now compared to how I felt when I was a closeted person”.
Speaking about her life before, she added: “I was sad…it is toxic and I wish that no one would have to live that way”. “It’s nearly as if lesbian couples are like all other couples”. Yet it is also true that Hester did not consider herself a gay rights activist, a point which Freeheld doesn’t shy away from, and Moore cherished her character’s humane modesty.
Flaccidly told both from a writing and directing perspective, “Freeheld” finds the closeted cop Hester and her butch, auto-mechanic girlfriend Andree meet cute, and aside from Hester’s control issues (which are spelled out often in needless expository dialogue rather than shown) their relationship is up and running. “She just wanted to be treated like everybody else”. She was an incredibly ethical person who believed in the justice system and law enforcement.
“I think, for the most part, LGBT people started to become more visible”, Page said.
However, while premiering Freeheld at the Toronto worldwide Film Festival, Julianne Moore noticed a trend in questioning that left her feeling a put off, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Fortunately, Moore decided that message of the movie was important and signed on, which was a huge relief to co-star and producer Ellen Page (along with her manager Kelly Bush Novak, who is also openly gay). “That’s because Ellen is so sensitive and open and honest”, says Moore. It’s love that lights up that darkness, of course, and it’s love that makes the film more moving and memorable than its script or direction really would on their own.