The actor's latest film "Close to You" marks his first film role since 2017
Elliot Page is back on the red carpet.
As Page, 36, appeared at the Toronto International Film Festival Sunday, the actor told PEOPLE he felt "grateful and nervous and excited, as one usually does before a premiere" as he debuted Close to You, his first movie in six years.
"This was a complete highlight of my career, personally," Page says of the film, which is mostly unscripted and improvised by the cast. "[Director Dominic Savage's] process, the experience of making a film in this way is not something I’ve done before. I feel grateful to be a part of his work and hope to do it again.”
Page, who also has a starring role in the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, last appeared in a feature film with 2017's Flatliners.
Close to You stars Page as a transgender man named Sam who returns to his hometown for the first time since he transitioned.
As he travels home, Sam "runs into Katherine (Hillary Baack), a friend from high school with her own complicated life now, and feelings from their unresolved past begin to bubble to the surface," per an official synopsis.
Page was able to appear at the film festival even as the Screen Actors Guild remains on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) since Close to You is an independent production that received an interim agreement from the guild.
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Page's new movie comes about three months after his memoir Pageboy was published in June. At TIFF, the actor says he believes his book has helped him connect with fans.
“People have been very kind and supportive and shared how it’s helped them or how they’ve connected with it," he tells PEOPLE. "That’s meant the absolute world to me, and, yes, having a book coming out was one of the more anxiety-ridden times of my life."
"It does feel like a weight’s lifted," Page adds.
"The way I get to feel working now is far more embodied coming from that foundation, versus entering and not feeling that way. It's a huge shift. Doing something like this, complete improv, before, would've been close to impossible," he said.
Close to You does not yet have a scheduled release in the United States; the movie is also scheduled to premiere at Canada's Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival on Sept. 23.
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