J.K. Simmons praises 'Juno' co-star and trans rights trailblazer Elliot Page: He's 'iconic in a new way'

One of the most touching arcs in Juno, the beloved 2007 coming-of-age comedy-drama, revolved around the unyielding support the eponymous pregnant teenager (played by Elliot Page) received from that character's seemingly-gruff blue-collar dad, Mac (J.K. Simmons).

Though the oft-quoted film by screenwriter Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman was a pop-culture phenomenon and box-office hit that earned four Oscar nominations (including an acting nod for Page), the prolific Simmons (himself an Oscar winner seven years later for Whiplash) admits he has not kept in touch with his onscreen offspring over the years.

“I had an awesome time working on Juno, Elliot’s been one of my favorite actors to watch since then, and a wonderful actor to work with,” Simmons, 66, told Yahoo Entertainment during a recent interview promoting his new sci-fi action film The Tomorrow War, in which he plays the grizzled conspiracy-theorist father to Chris Pratt’s time-traveling alien fighter.

“But honestly I’m kind of a ‘go to work and go home’ kind of a guy, so I don’t stay in touch with many people from work. Most of my friends are people I’ve known since 1975.”

Simmons has, however, kept up with Page’s widely shared, widely celebrated milestones in recent months.

In December 2020, Page announced that he is transgender in a powerful Instagram post that has garnered more than 3.5 million likes. “Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot,” he wrote. “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.”

In his announcement, Page also expressed “overwhelming gratitude” for the support and used the moment to call out troubling statistics on violence and hate crimes against transgender people, particularly Black and Latinx trans women. Page, now 34 and currently starring on Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, continues to be one of Hollywood's most prominent trans rights activists. He has since become the first transgender man to appear on the cover of Time magazine, candidly talked about his transition with Oprah Winfrey, and shared a shirtless poolside photo of himself in his first pair of swim trunks with the hashtags "transjoy" and "transisbeautiful."

“It’s been great to watch that happen,” Simmons told Yahoo Entertainment, noting Page was already iconic before his transition, but now has become “iconic in a new way” and “a positive influence for a lot of people.”

In other words, 14 years after Juno, Mac remains a proud and supportive papa.

Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jimmie Rhee

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