Anne Heche Was Told by Director to Keep Quiet About Her Sexuality, New Memoir Says

The actor's posthumous autobiography includes her retelling of a troubling conversation.

When she went public with her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, Anne Heche became one of the few high-profile Hollywood actors who were out at the time. This gave more visibility to people in same-sex relationships, but while Heche was proud to be vocal about who she was, not everyone around her felt the same way.

The Psycho star opened up about her life in her memoir Call Me Anne, which was completely shortly before her shocking August 2022 death at age 53. In an excerpt of the book published by USA Today, Heche claimed that a very famous film director told her to stay silent about her sexuality and her love life, using another star as an example. Read on to find out who gave her the offensive advice and how she felt supported by her co-star.

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Heche and DeGeneres started dating in 1997.

Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche at the premiere of "Contact" in 1997
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Heche and DeGeneres made their public debut as a couple  soon after they met, when the actor took the comedian as her date to the premiere of her movie, Volcano.

"I took Ellen," Heche told the podcast Irish Goodbye in 2018 (via People). "We were told that my contract for Fox would be [ended] and I would be fired. And that the movie that I had just met Harrison Ford on wouldn't hire me. And we went to the premiere—these are the stories that I know people don't know—we went to the premiere, we were tapped on the shoulder, put into her limo in the third act, and told that we couldn't have pictures of us taken at the press junket. Both she and I were fired that week."

In her memoir, Heche wrote that her representatives had warned her not to take DeGeneres to the premiere and that she fired them for it.

A director asked why she couldn't hide her sexuality.

Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres at the premiere of "Six Days, Seven Nights" in 1998
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Heche ultimately wasn't fired from the movie she mentioned in the podcast, 1998's Six Days, Seven Nights. She revealed in her memoir, however, that late director Ivan Reitman asked her why she couldn't keep her same-sex relationship a secret.

"Why can't you just be like Jodie Foster?," she recalled him saying. She also wrote that when she asked him to clarify his comment, Reitman responded, "Everybody knows it, she just doesn't talk about it."

Foster came out publicly by thanking her former partner Cydney Bernard when she accepted the Cecil B DeMille award at the Golden Globes 2013. By that time, the star had been out in her private life for many years.

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Her co-star supported her.

Harrison Ford and Anne Heche in "Six Days, Seven Nights"
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Heche wrote in her book that her Six Days, Seven Nights co-star Ford supported her and assured her that they would keep filming the movie.

"I still don't know exactly why he chose to help me when it seemed like the entire film industry had decided I was box-office poison," she said. "But at the moment my career seemed to be at its lowest, and everything I had worked for was slipping out of my grasp, Harrison reached out and threw me a lifeline. He did me the courtesy of not caring who I was sleeping with. It did—and does—mean the world."

She said being with DeGeneres made her proud, even after they broke up.

Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres at the 1999 Oscars
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Heche shared in her book that DeGeneres was the "first and only" woman she loved. The former couple were together from 1997 to 2000.

"He or she didn't matter to me," Heche writes. "The first time I saw Ellen, I realized how true that was … Simply put: exquisite doesn't have gender. Neither does love."

Of being out publicly with DeGeneres, Heche explained, "Nothing in my life I am prouder to have participated in—other than childbirth, of course!"

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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