TIME celebrities

Ellen Page: Creepiness Is a “Systemic Problem” in Hollywood

Ellen Page
Ellen Page at 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, Calif. Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez / AFP / Getty Images

Those in power often manipulate younger people, the actress says

For an actor, promoting a movie usually requires spending a lot of time talking about his or her character and the world of the film. And, in this week’s TIME, Ellen Page does just that for the new X-Men: Days of Future Past (in theaters this weekend), discussing the way the movie’s worldview meshes with her own and why she might use mutant powers to see what it’s like to be Jay Z.

But sometimes, a movie release coincides with real-life events, and in X-Men‘s case, that something happens to be the recent suit against director Bryan Singer, who has been accused of sexually abusing a minor. (On Wednesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Singer filed a motion to dismiss. In a recent cover story for the same publication, Page said that those accusations against Singer were “disturbing” and that “the truth will come out in the way that it does.” But, she told TIME, no matter ends up happening with Singer’s case, there’s a larger issue that we should be talking about instead:

TIME: I read what you’ve said about the allegations against Bryan Singer, and I wonder what’s it like to be asked about those accusations…

Ellen Page: When it has nothing to do with me?

TIME: Yeah.

Page: It’s part of this world and it’s part of what we do and it’s the same with Woody [Allen, who directed Page in To Rome with Love] or whatever. I’ve worked with this person and I happen to be in the movie that’s coming out right now, so of course someone will ask about it. What could I possibly say about it? These are accusations and it’s awful and we’ll find out when we find out, when the process happens. I do think that all of Bryan’s situation aside, I do think there is a systemic problem. Any time young people are in places with people of power around, I do think that’s an important thing to talk about.

TIME: Just in general?

Page: In general and in Hollywood, yeah.

TIME: Is that something you’ve experienced personally?

Page: I grew up on film sets, so yes. I’ve never had any situation that is anything too, you know, but people are creepy and try to manipulate young people and luckily I never had anything too drastic happen.

Such power imbalances, and their “creepy” consequences, have often been seen as a problem that mostly affects those for whom the imbalance is greatest; as my colleague Kate Pickert explained when the Singer scandal first broke, advocates say that the aspirants who have the most to gain and lose are the ones most in danger of predatory quid-pro-quo transactions. But, if Page’s observations hold true across her industry, it sounds like the problem isn’t limited to careers that have yet to break through.

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