Anne Heche was sent packing on last night’s episode of Dancing With The Stars, but not before opening up about a much-publicized part of her life and career. In 1997, at the height of her stardom, the actor entered into a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, who had famously come out as a lesbian that same year. A casual look at Heche’s filmography is all it takes to see the impact the romance—one of very few open same-sex relationships in Hollywood at the time—had on her career, but the discrimination she faced went beyond dashed acting opportunities.
Speaking to her dance partner, Keo Motsepe, Heche alleged that she was forbidden from bringing DeGeneres to the premiere for 1997's Volcano. “I was told if I took Ellen I would lose my Fox contract,” she said. “At that moment, [Degeneres] took my hand and said, ‘Do what they say’ and I said, ‘No thanks.’ I took Ellen to the premiere and I was ushered out before the movie even ended and was told I was not allowed to go to my own after party for fear that they would get pictures of me with a woman.”
Heche goes on to say that she lost her “multi-million dollar picture deal” and “did not work in a studio picture for 10 years.” It’s likely the intense scrutiny she faced factored into her 2000 mental break, which saw her wind up on the doorstep of a woman in Fresno on an evening hat was covered breathlessly by the tabloids. Since then, she’s rebuilt her career in Hollywood, TV, and theater.
Still, Heche believes she made the right call in standing by her relationship. “I am proud that I took a stand early in my life for LGBTQ rights, and I would do it again, even knowing its consequences on my career,” she said in a recent interview with Mr. Warburton Magazine.
The A.V. Club has reached out to Disney, which now owns Fox, for comment, but we have yet to receive a response. We’ll update the story if we do.