The actor Anne Heche has claimed that the stigma attached to going public with her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres in the late 1990s led to her blacklisting from major movie roles.
“My story is a story that created change in the world, moved the needle for equal rights forward, when I fell in love with Ellen DeGeneres,” Heche claimed in a pre-recorded segment on US TV show Dancing With the Stars.
The couple met in 1997, and, that April, Heche invited DeGeneres as her date to the premiere of the disaster movie Volcano, in which she co-starred with Tommy Lee Jones and Don Cheadle.
Heche claims that 20th Century Fox then told her that such a move would lead them to cancel her contract. DeGeneres urged her to reconsider taking her, but Heche says she refused to back down.
“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 said.
The couple remained together for nearly four years, during which time, alleged Heche, “the stigma attached to that relationship was so bad that I was fired from my multimillion-dollar picture deal, and I did not work in a studio picture for 10 years.”
Heche shot films such as Walking and Talking, The Juror, Donnie Brasco, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Wag the Dog and Six Days Seven Nights before her relationship became public. Her profile dipped in subsequent years, but she did forge a successful career in television.
Earlier this year, Heche referred to the relationship as “a beautiful part of my life and one that I wear with honour. I was a part of a revolution that created social change, and I could not have done that without falling in love with her.”
20th Century Fox has not responded to Heche’s comments.