The producers of Julianne Moore and Ellen Page’s new civil rights drama Freeheld were left scrambling for a new location after officials at Salesian High School in New York refused to let them shoot there due to the film’s “subject matter”.
The movie is based on a 2007 documentary, which centred on Laurel Hester – a New Jersey cop played by Moore – who challenged government officials and demanded pension benefits for her same-sex partner, Stacie Andree, portrayed by Page, as she battled lung cancer.
A location manager picked Salesian High School in New Rochelle, New York to double as the Ocean County, New Jersey town hall, where Hester applied for a domestic partnership with Andree in order to legally pass on her pension after her death.
After first approving the shoot, the school’s principal, John Flaherty, informed producer Michael Shamberg that he and the governors had reversed their decision, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Shamberg tells the publication, “They turned us down because of the subject matter.”
Shamberg has since sent an email to the school’s principal, stating, “(The movie is) not about gay marriage, nor are the women attempting to get married. It is about recognizing the dignity of a woman who was a brave civil servant.
“I believe the theme of the movie is what Pope Francis recognized when he called for the Church to welcome and accept gay people.”
Mayor Paul Rosenberg of nearby Rye Brook has since offered up his town hall for the shoot.
Shamberg says, “The mayor personally came to the set and greeted us and introduced his teenage daughters to Julianne. Clearly, there are a lot of different attitudes in the area.”
Freeheld also features Moore’s Crazy Stupid Love co-star Steve Carrell.