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'Pageboy': What we learned from Elliot Page's raw new memoir

The actor's first book is a deep dive into darkness, self-discovery and reclamation.

This story discusses eating disorders. If you or someone you know has an eating disorder please call the National Eating Disorder Association at (800) 931-2237 or visit the website for a live chat. If you feel like you’re in crisis text “NEDA” to 741741 to talk with someone at the crisis text line.

Elliot Page begins "Pageboy" with a dedication to "all those who came before." It's a simple statement that reflects the complicated quest the actor has been on to finally achieve what he says is a place of "unimaginable contentment."

The newly-released memoir chronicles Page's journey or the “story of my untangling,” which intimately details his acting career, lovelife, heartbreaks, fractured family relationships and the self-discovery that led to him first coming out as queer in 2014 and, more recently, transgender.

In the book, Page, 36, writes that thanks to supportive health his back is straighter and "mind quieter" which is why, despite feeling "terrified," he's putting his "words on a page," and sharing his story.

Why now? Page says it's in response to the increasing violence he says trans people face and the efforts to silence their voices. Page also writes that there's no universal story when it comes to being queer and trans, only his own, which he tells unflinchingly in the chapters of the newly-released book.

Elliot Page memoir "Pageboy."

Moving randomly between different periods of the actor's life, "Pageboy" is joyful at times, before delving into the much darker territory of abuse, eating disorders and self-harm, with Page writing that much like “queerness is intrinsically nonlinear,” his story is too, and that for him, it's been “two steps forward, one step back.”

From being being told he would never be a boy as child to finally standing proud with a "body that feels my own," here's what we learned from Elliot Page's memoir.

Page was bullied and abused

As a child growing up in Canada, Page was frequently bullied at school. Page writes that in high school he was "physically forced into the boys' bathroom," then punished for it by his English teacher and was regularly called homophobic slurs by classmates. At one point, Page and a friend were threatened and chased by a random gang of teenagers on the street before taking refuge at a babysitter's house.

The tough times extended into his home life. Page writes that his stepmother, Linda, was often "cruel" saying, "I think it was compulsive. I am sure Linda didn't want to be cruel, but I believe she held an impulse in her depths to habitually come for me."

He also writes that his grandmother used a slur in commenting about his sexuality.

As a child, Page writes that his mother discouraged his interest in things like ordering the "boy's toy" with his Happy Meal, wearing masculine clothes in public and responded "no" when Page asked if he could be a boy at the age of 6.

"I didn't grow out of this 'phase' when I was supposed to," Page writes, "and my mom's distaste for what I wore and whom I befriended grew."

However, over time, their relationship changed and Page writes that now he and his mother have "never been closer."

"Her willingness to change and grow and move through the discomfort has been powerful and inspiring," he says in the book. "She's become my ally. She loves her son endlessly. I'm lucky to have that, to feel such profound and genuine love."

Page had crushes on Sandra Bullock and Carrie Brownstein

One of Page's first crushes as a child was on A-lister Sandra Bullock. He writes that his heart was "aflutter" after seeing the actor in "Two If by Sea," saying, "my 8-year-old self not comprehending" that his feelings were romantic in nature.

When Page met Bullock in person two decades later, he writes that she was "nice, funny, and grounded, just as my 8-year-old self had imagined."

Another of Page's crushes was Carrie Brownstein. He writes that he first met actor-musician in 2008 at an SNL after-party, saying that he found Brownstein "brilliant, funny, multitalented, and sexy."

The pair become "good pals" and still are, according to Page, who writes that he and Brownstein bonded over their mutual yearning "for a sense of embodiment that we weren't sure we'd ever feel."

At 16, Page was stalked and threatened

While filming the Canadian drama "Pit Pony," in the late '90s as a teenager, Page met and began a "pen pal" relationship with an older man in his 20s. After two years of exchanging emails, the man began pressing Page to take the relationship further, revealing himself to be a full-fledged stalker.

"He would attach pictures of me with my eyes closed, and photoshop himself with massive angel wings above me, glaring down," Page writes. From there, the man sent him links to missing children websites and began contacting all Page's friends.

Despite a restraining order, he found Page walking along a street in Toronto. "I pictured a knife entering me, shimmering in the sun each time he pulled it out to stab again, a sacrifice. He had made it clear on multiple occasions that no one was going to get in the way of us," Page writes. "I fled. Running, I wove in and out, zigzagging through streets."

Eventually the man was arrested and diagnosed with schizophrenia. "If there is a tiny morsel of goodness in all of this, it's that he was finally seen. How could now receive support for his pain," Page writes.

Page was groomed by a director

As a teenager, Page writes that he was groomed by a director whose "frequent texts made me feel special, as did the books he gifted me."

After taking Page to dinner, the director stroked Page's thigh under the table saying, 'You have to make the move, I can't.'"

On a different project, Page writes that while he was casually hanging out with a crew member, who "grabbed me, asserting we go upstairs." And there were many others who made unwanted advances, including a man Page refers only to as his "crossword puzzle friend" and yet another crew member who Page writes offered to take him apartment hunting, then while standing in an empty living room, "felt her grab me" and "pressed her face into mine, some version of kissing."

"Turning 18 further frayed my boundaries, an unspoken permission slip I didn't consent to," he writes.

A famous actor threatened Page at a party

Two months after coming out as gay in 2014, Page attended a friend's birthday party where he says an acquaintance arrived drunk and confronted him.

"You aren't gay. You are just afraid of men," Page writes of the "wasted slurs of words" the acquaintance spewed before telling Page, "You're just afraid of men."

When Page tried to leave, he followed, insisting he have sex with him in order to "make you realize you aren't gay."

Page ended up leaving the party to get away from him and writes in the book, "Power works in funny ways. He was, and still is, one of the most famous actors in the world."

Filming 'An American Crime' took a toll on Page

At 19, Page starred in "An American Crime," the true story about a severely abused Indiana girl. Playing the lead, Page writes that while there'd been scenes in previous movies that had been violent, sexual and physical, this one was "unspeakably brutal."

"As a teenager, I did not have the skills to turn it on and off as abruptly and easily as I can now," Page writes, saying that playing a character who was partially starved to death allowed him to "lean in to my desire to disappear, to punish myself."

Compulsively smoking cigarettes and listening to Petula Clark's "Downtown," Page found it difficult to eat and dropped down to 84 pounds.

"My arms were so skinny, I could take the outer sleeve of a to-go coffee cup, stick my hand through and slide it up my arm, beyond my elbow and to my shoulder. Wasting away," he writes.

Page says in the book that it was seeing his mother's "panic" and "anguish" over his weight loss that finally motivated him to begin eating again.

Wearing a Speedo was 'a rush of joy'

At age 9 or 10, Page recalls hanging out at the house of a male soccer friend and after forgetting to pack a swimsuit, was given a Speedo to wear instead.

"I was careful not to drop it, a sacred talisman, I felt acutely aware that I could not soil it in any way," Page writes of the swimsuit.

"It didn't matter that an elastic, nylon layer of skin was not hiding my chest. I was frolicking with my friends, just us kids. The only shift was in my happiness, a moment of knowing, a crisp focus, enhancing all the colors and sounds. A rush of joy," he writes.

Despite not being a "Speedo guy" as an adult, Page likens the carefree childhood moment to the first time he wore swim trunks after undergoing top surgery to remove his breast tissue.

"Wearing swim trunks for the first time, chest out and with my scars visible, was indescribable," he writes and says that the smile on his face was "as massive as they come."

A 'world-renowned photographer' treated him with malice

Page writes that early in his career he was at a "fancy, prestigious photo shoot, with a famous, acclaimed photographer" who became irritated with Page over his lack of conversation.

He writes that his body became "stiff" and "not responding" during the photographer's questioning as a result of being shy and having had the confidence "squeezed" out of him from being forced to wear an ill-fitting dress for the shoot.

"Her irritation with me grew visible," he writes in the book, "it began with a look that could be interpreted as confusion but promptly turned to malice."

After snapping at Page and sharply asking if he could even talk, the photographer pulled her knee back and "with force, she kicked the side of my chair. The base of her boot striking the wooden frame. Hard," he writes.

"As she walked off I did what I could to prevent tears from ruining the makeup."

Trouble on the set of 'Flatliners'

While remaking the '80s movie "Flatliners" in 2016, Page writes there were hitches on the set including lack of safety restraints for certain stunts, which Page writes were "reckless and dangerous."

And there were other red flags, according to Page, including someone who approached fellow cast member, Kiersey Clemons, between takes and said, "'You only have this part because you're Black, you know.'"

After a table read of the script, Page writes that "one of the heads of production" asked him to stay behind so they could "chat," then asked Page if he was "mad that this character isn't gay" because Page wouldn't wear a skirt.

Page writes that he responded, "'Your view of women is egregiously narrow,' I said to the man, reminding him lesbians wear skirts, too."

Page says he also witnessed an executive "give a woman an unwanted massage of set" before that same person asked Clemons out to dinner via a series of texts that Page writes "glared with gross."

Page and Kate Mara had a secret romance

Page writes in "Pageboy" that his heart was broken by a long-term love referred to only as "Ryan" in the book.

"I would pass a giant photograph of her, the poster for her latest film. Her beauty is dangerous, I'd think, it'll cause a car crash," he writes.

The first person Page says he "really fell for" after his breakup with Ryan was actor Kate Mara. Page writes that he met the actress and her then boyfriend, Max Minghella, at a dinner and thought she was "charming and gorgeous."

Upon meeting again, Page writes that they "bantered back and forth, overly flirtatious," and soon after Mara emailed him and the pair struck up a friendship.

The relationship took a romantic turn with Page writing that Minghella was "totally fine with it" and of "Kate exploring her connection with me."

Page says in the book that he fell hard for the actor, writing "it went somewhere else" saying that "the universe split open. And myself with it. I was a goner."

Mara and Page eventually grew apart, with Page writing that there was "grief in letting go." Despite no longer being romantically involved, Page writes that he and Mara are still close and that "what has never changed, what will never change, is the love between us."