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Anne Celeste Heche (// HAYSH; born May 25, 1969) is an American actress, a director, and a screenwriter. Following a dual role in the daytime soap opera Another World (1987–91), she came to mainstream prominence in the late 1990s with the films Donnie Brasco (1997), Volcano (1997), Six Days, Seven Nights (1998), and Return to Paradise (1998). In 1998, Heche portrayed Marion Crane in Gus Van Sant's horror remake Psycho.
A highly-publicized relationship with comedian Ellen DeGeneres was followed by a significant downturn in Heche's career, although she has continued to act in numerous independent films such as Birth (2004), Spread (2009), Cedar Rapids (2011) and Rampart (2011). In 2004, Heche received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the Lifetime movie Gracie's Choice, and a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play for her work in Broadway's Twentieth Century. She also starred in the television series Men in Trees (2006–08), Hung (2009–11), Save Me (2013), Dig (2016), and Aftermath (2016).
Heche was born on May 25, 1969 in Aurora, Ohio, the youngest of five children of Nancy Heche (née Prickett) and Donald Joseph Heche. Heche's family moved a total of eleven times during her childhood; at one point, they lived in an Amish community. When asked in a 2001 interview on Larry King Live what her father's source of income was, Heche replied, "Well, he was a choir director. But I don't think he made much on that a week. He said that he was involved in a business of gas and oil. And he said that until the day he died. But he never was involved in the business of gas and oil ever." The family settled in Ocean City, New Jersey when Heche was twelve years old. Due to desperate finances, Anne went to work at a dinner theater in Swainton. "At the time we’d been kicked out of our house and my family was holed up living in a bedroom in the home of a generous family from our church," she said. "I got $100 a week, which was more than anyone else in my family. We all pooled our money in an envelope in a drawer and saved up enough to move out after a year."
On March 3, 1983, when Heche was thirteen, her 45-year-old father died of AIDS, although he never came out as a homosexual. "He was in complete denial until the day he died. We know he got it from his gay relationships. Absolutely. I don't think it was just one. He was a very promiscuous man, and we knew his lifestyle then," Heche said on Larry King Live. Despite her father being gay, Heche has claimed that he repeatedly raped her from the time she was an infant until she was twelve, giving her genital herpes. When asked "But why would a gay man rape a girl?", in a 2001 interview with The Advocate, Heche replied "I don't think he was just a gay man. I think he was sexually deviant. My belief was that my father was gay and he had to cover that up. I think he was sexually abusive. The more he couldn't be who he was, the more that came out of him in ways that it did."
Three months after her father's death, Heche's 18-year-old brother Nathan was killed in a car crash. The official determination was that he fell asleep at the wheel and struck a tree, though Heche claims he committed suicide. The remainder of Heche's family subsequently moved to Chicago, where Heche attended the progressive Francis W. Parker School. In 1985, when Heche was sixteen, an agent spotted her in a school play and secured her an audition for the daytime soap opera As the World Turns. Heche flew to New York City, auditioned, and was offered a job, but her mother insisted she finish high school first. Shortly before her high school graduation in 1987, Heche was offered a dual role on the daytime soap opera Another World. "Again I was told I couldn't go. My mother was very religious and maybe she thought it was a sinner’s world," Heche stated. "But I got on the phone and said, 'Send me the ticket. I’m getting on the plane.' I was like, 'Bye!' I did my time with my mom in a one-bedroom, skanky apartment and I was done."
For her work on Another World, Heche received a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series in 1991. In November 1991, Heche made her primetime television debut in an episode of Murphy Brown. She made her TV-movie debut the following year with a brief appearance in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of O Pioneers! (1992). In 1993, Heche made her feature film debut in Disney's The Adventures of Huck Finn with Elijah Wood. Over the next two years, she had small supporting roles in made-for-TV movies such as Girls in Prison (1994) and Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long (1995). She also appeared in the straight-to-video erotic thriller Wild Side (1995) as Joan Chen's lesbian lover.
In 1996, Heche landed her first substantial role as a college student contemplating an abortion in a segment of the made-for-HBO anthology film If These Walls Could Talk, co-starring Cher and Demi Moore. Also in the year, she appeared opposite Catherine Keener portraying childhood best friends in the independent film Walking and Talking. The limited released film garnered favorable reviews from critics and is #47 on Entertainment Weekly's "Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time" list. Heche gained positive notice from film critic Alison Macor of Austin Chronicle, who wrote in her review that she "is destined for larger film roles". She played the wife of Johnny Depp's titular FBI undercover agent character in the 1997 crime drama Donnie Brasco. The film made $124.9 million worldwide, and critic Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote: "[Heche] does well with what could have been the thankless role."
By the late 1990s, Heche continued to find recognition and commercial success as she took on supporting roles in three other 1997 high-profile film releases—Volcano, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Wag the Dog. The disaster film Volcano, about the formation of a volcano in Los Angeles, saw her star with Tommy Lee Jones and Gaby Hoffmann, playing a seismologist. While critical response towards the film was mixed, it grossed US$122 million at the international box office. She portrayed the minor role of a backwoods loner in the slasher thriller sleeper hit I Know What You Did Last Summer, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Freddie Prinze, Jr.. Despite her limited screen-time in the film, Heche was considered a "standout" by some critics, such as Variety. She obtained the part of a presidential advisor opposite Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman in the political satire Wag the Dog, a role that was originally written for a man. Budgeted at US$15 million, the film made US$64 million.
Heche's first starring came in the 1998 romantic adventure Six Days, Seven Nights, where she appeared opposite Harrison Ford, portraying a New York City journalist ending up with a pilot (Ford) in a deserted island following a crash landing. She had been cast in the film one day before her same-sex relationship with Ellen DeGeneres went public. Although Heche was cast in a second starring role shortly thereafter as Vince Vaughn's love interest in the acclaimed drama Return to Paradise (1998), she felt that the romance with DeGeneres destroyed her prospects as a leading woman. According to Heche, "People said 'You're not getting a job because you're gay' ". She commented: "How could that destroy my career? I still can't wrap my head around it." Six Days, Seven Nights received mixed reviews but grossed U$S74.3 million in North America and US$164.8 million worldwide. On her appearance in the dramatic thriller Return to Paradise, The New York Times remarked that "[...] as Ms. Heche's formidable Beth Eastern does her best to manipulate the other characters on [co-star Joaquin Phoenix's character] behalf, Return to Paradise takes on the abstract weightiness of an ethical debate rather than the visceral urgency of a thriller".
Heche starred in Gus Van Sant's Psycho (1998), a remake of the 1960 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. In the updated version, she took on the role originally played by Janet Leigh, Marion Crane, an embezzler who arrives at an old motel run by an insane killer named Norman Bates (played by Vince Vaughn in their second collaboration). Psycho earned mediocre reviews and, despite a US$60 million budget, it made a lukewarm US$37.1 million worldwide. In an otherwise positive review for the film, The New York Times felt that Heche was "refreshingly cast in Marion's role", while noting that her portrayal was "as almost as demure as Ms. Leigh's, yet she's also more headstrong and flirty". Her 1998 films have remained the only theatrically released films in which she has had a leading role. She has continued to act in film and on television, but quickly fell under the Hollywood radar.
Most of her roles in the early 2000s were in independent films and television; she played the role of Dr. Sterling in the film adaptation of Elizabeth Wurtzel's autobiography about depression, Prozac Nation, with Christina Ricci and Jessica Lange. Premiered at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival, the film received a DVD release in 2005. She appeared as a hospital administrator in the thriller John Q, about a father and husband (Denzel Washington) whose son is diagnosed with an enlarged heart. The production made US$102.2 million at the worldwide box office, despite negative reviews by critics. In 2001, she also obtained a recurring role in the fourth season of the television series Ally McBeal.
In 2002, Heche made her Broadway debut in a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Proof, acting as a young woman who has inherited from her father mathematical genius and his madness. The New York Times found Heche to be "consequential" in her portrayal, and comparing her to Mary-Louise Parker and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who had previously played her character in other productions of the play, stated: "[...] Ms. Heche, whose stage experience is limited and who is making her New York stage debut at 33, plays the part with a more appeasing ear and more conventional timing, her take on the character is equally viable. Her Catherine is a case of arrested development, impatient, aggressively indignant, impulsive". In 2004, Heche received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the Lifetime movie Gracie's Choice, as well as a Saturn Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance in the CBS television film The Dead Will Tell. In the same year, she acted opposite Alec Baldwin in Broadway's Twentieth Century, about a successful and egomaniacal Broadway director (Baldwin), who has transformed a chorus girl (Heche) into a leading lady. For her performance, she was nominated for the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.
Also in 2004, appeared alongside Nicole Kidman and Cameron Bright in the well-received independent drama Birth. She took on the recurring role on the WB drama Everwood during its 2004–05 season, and then a recurring role on Nip/Tuck in 2005 as an ex-mob wife and Witness Protection Program subject who requires plastic surgery. Heche continued her television work with her portrayal of a widow who doesn't celebrate Christmas in made-for-CBS Silver Bells (2005), and a con woman who schemes a man she meets on a dating website in th made-for-Lifetime Fatal Desire (2006).
Heche appeared in the small-scale dramedy Sexual Life (2005), chronicling the modern romantic life and co-starring Azura Skye and Elizabeth Banks. The film was screened in the film festival circuit and received a television premiere. In 2006, Heche began work on her own series, Men in Trees. In the show, she starred as a New York author who, after finding out her fiancé is cheating on her, moves to a small town in Alaska, which happens to be abundant with single men and few women. Men in Trees was canceled in May 2008, after a season shortened by the writer’s strike. During the airing of the show, Heche starred in the horror-comedy Suffering Man's Charity (2007), the romantic comedy What Love Is (2007), and the science-fiction thriller Toxic Skies (2008), all of which went little-seen by audiences.
Heche appeared as the girlfriend of a narcissistic gigolo in the sex comedy Spread (2009), co-starring Ashton Kutcher. The film received a limited release in North American theaters while it made US$12 million at the worldwide box office. Matthew Turney of View London felt that "[t]here's also terrific support" from Heche in what he described as an "enjoyable, sharply written and beautifully shot LA drama". Also in 2009, she was cast in the HBO dramedy series Hung, as the ex-wife of a financially struggling high school basketball/baseball coach (portrayed by Thomas Jane). The series received favorable reviews and aired until 2011.
A cameo appearance as the CEO of an important company in the well-received comedy The Other Guys (2010), starring Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg, was followed by a much larger role in the independent comedy Cedar Rapids (2011), where she portrayed a seductive insurance agent with whom a naive and idealistic man (played by Ed Helms) becomes smitten. The Sundance-premiered production garnered critical praise and was an arthouse success. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter remarked in its review for the film that "while Heche shines brightest in more brittle mode, as in HBO's Hung, she strikes a sweet balance between Joan's mischievous and maternal sides".
In the drama Rampart (2011), she starred with Woody Harrelson and Cynthia Nixon, as one of the two former wives of a corrupt police officer (Harrelson), who also happen to be sisters. The film had a selected theatrical run following its premiere at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival, and garnered an overall positive response; The San Francisco Chronicle, pointing out Heche and her other female co-stars, remarked that they "allow Harrelson to shine —he has always had a way of preening for women— and he brings out the best in them". Heche had the leading role in the small-scale comedy That's What She Said (2012), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and next obtained the part of the girlfriend of a former pro golfer (Colin Firth) in the critically acclaimed dramedy Arthur Newman (also 2012).
Heche starred with James Tupper, Jennifer Stone and Rebekah Brandes in the supernatural horror film Nothing Left to Fear (2013), about a family's life in a new town being interrupted by an unstable man of the cloth. The film received a release for VOD and selected theaters, and it currently holds a rating of only 12 on review-aggregator website Metacritic, indicating it was "overwhelming dislike" by critics. Los Angeles Times remarked that both Heche and Tupper "should write apology notes to their fans". Also in 2013, Heche headlined the short-lived NBC sitcom Save Me, in which she starred as a Midwestern housewife who believes that she is channeling God. She played the waitress friend of a recovering gambling addict (Jason Statham) in the action thriller Wild Card (2014). Distributed for a VOD and limited release in certain parts of North America only, the film only US$6.7 million internationally on a $30 million budget. She had a recurring guest-role on The Michael J. Fox Show before its cancellation.
USA Network's action adventure drama series, Dig, saw Heche portray the head of the FBI office in Jerusalem whose agents uncovers a 2,000-year-old conspiracy while investigating an archaeologist's murder. The six-episode series premiered late 2014. In 2015, Heche guest-starred in the ABC thriller series Quantico playing the role of criminal profiler, Dr. Susan Langdon. On September 27, 2016, the post-apocalyptic action drama Aftermath –starring Heche– debuted on Canada's Space Network and on United States' Syfy. Heche played Karen Copeland, a Air Force pilot from Washington State who must navigate Armageddon, along with her university-professor husband Josh (played by James Tupper, also a co-producer on the series) and their three nearly-adult children.
Heche filmed the supporting part of the lead singer for a Broadway musical in Opening Night (2016), with Topher Grace. The musical comedy was screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival. In another independent film, the comedy Catfight (2016), Heche starred opposite Sandra Oh, portraying two bitter rivals who pursue a grudge match that spans a lifetime. Like Heche's previous film projects, the film premiered in the film festival circuit and received a VOD and limited release, to largely favorable reviews from critics. Los Angeles Times wrote: "Oh and Heche are great here, giving performances entirely lacking in vanity and self-consciousness. They aren’t afraid to get ugly, both in their treatment of everyone around them as well as in their post-brawl bruises, which makes them that much funnier".
Throughout her career, she has appeared in several magazine covers including Entertainment Weekly, Mirabella and Observer Magazine. Heche was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world in 1998. She became a significant subject of widespread media interest while dating comedian Ellen DeGeneres. In 2017, Heche hosted a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Jason Ellis entitled "Love and Hache."
Heche's relationship with comedian Ellen DeGeneres and the events following their breakup became subjects of widespread media interest. The couple started dating in 1997, and at one point, said they would get a civil union if such became legal in Vermont. They broke up in August 2000. Heche has stated that all of her other romantic relationships have been with men.
On September 1, 2001, Heche married Coleman "Coley" Laffoon, a cameraman whom she met the previous year on DeGeneres' stand-up comedy tour. They have a son, Homer, born on March 2, 2002. Laffoon filed for divorce on February 2, 2007, after five and a half years of marriage. In court papers filed on May 2, 2007, Laffoon requested primary custody of their son, claiming that Heche was an unfit parent and exhibited "bizarre and delusional behavior for which she refuses to seek professional help". Heche countered by accusing Laffoon of "resorting to lies with the court" because she "would not cave in to his astronomical money demands". Heche lost custody of their son on June 11, 2007. On May 14, 2008, following the cancellation of her TV series Men in Trees, she submitted a financial declaration showing that she had less than $35,000 in her bank accounts and could no longer afford to pay child support. Heche and Laffoon's contentious divorce was finalized on March 4, 2009. A court order was issued which required them to hire a parenting coordinator to manage their relationships with son Homer; this arrangement remained in effect until May 1, 2011.
Heche reportedly left her husband for Men in Trees co-star James Tupper. The couple moved in together in August 2007. On December 5, 2008, it was confirmed by Heche's representative that the actress was pregnant with Tupper's child. Their son, Atlas Heche Tupper, was born on March 7, 2009. This is the second child for Heche and the first for Tupper.
Heche has four siblings, three of whom are deceased.
Heche and her mother, Nancy, have been estranged since Heche confronted her about sexual abuse she claims to have suffered at the hands of her father. In her 2001 memoir, Call Me Crazy, Heche wrote that when she contracted genital herpes as an infant, her mother insisted that it was a diaper rash and refused to take her to the doctor. Nancy was outraged by her daughter's allegations, responding, "I am trying to find a place for myself in this writing, a place where I as Anne's mother do not feel violated or scandalized." She added, "I find no place among the lies and blasphemies in the pages of this book."
Heche's sister, Abigail, added "It is my opinion that my sister Anne truly believes, at this moment, what she has asserted about our father's past behavior; however, at the same time, I would like to point out that Anne, in the past, has expressed doubts herself about the accuracy of such memories." She said, "Based on my experience and her own expressed doubts, I believe that her memories regarding our father are untrue. And I can state emphatically, regardless of Anne's beliefs, that the assertion that our mother knew about such behavior is absolutely false."
Nancy has denied Heche's allegation that her brother Nathan committed suicide: "I have talked to his youth pastor, and he said that Nathan was committed to the Lord, he loved Jesus, and I do not believe that that was suicide, but the death of his father from homosexuality three months earlier could certainly have stirred up a lot of confusion for him."
Since her husband's death from AIDS, Nancy has been a Christian therapist and motivational speaker who lectures on behalf of James Dobson's Focus on the Family about overcoming homosexuality. In 2009, Anne Heche told the New York Times:
On August 19, 2000, Heche drove from Los Angeles to Cantua Creek outside Fresno, California, and parked her Toyota SUV along a dusty roadside. Wearing only a bra and shorts, Heche walked 1 1⁄2 miles (2.4 km) through the desert and knocked on the door of a stranger's ranch house. When the home's occupant, Araceli Campiz, opened the door, she immediately recognized Heche from the film Six Days, Seven Nights. Campiz recalled: "I was thinking, 'Oh my God, we're in the middle of nowhere', and she walks in." Campiz said that Heche gulped down glass upon glass of water, and then "took off her Nikes and said she needed to take a shower", at which point Campiz obliged, offering Heche a towel. As far as Campiz could tell, Heche was not drunk, drugged, or ill; however, Heche later admitted that she had taken ecstasy. After Heche had a shower, she got settled in the living room, requested a pair of slippers, and suggested that Campiz do the same. "She wanted to watch a movie, but the VCR was broken," according to Campiz. Bemused at first, Campiz grew uneasy when Heche showed no sign of leaving—calling neither friends nor a garage—after half an hour had passed. Campiz has stated: "I didn't know what to do. So I called the [Fresno County] sheriff's department." According to a police report that was aired on KSEE-TV, when deputies arrived, Heche told them that she was "God, and was going to take everyone back to heaven in a spaceship". The deputies summoned an ambulance, which ferried Heche the 50 miles (80 km) to Fresno's University Medical Center, where she was admitted to the psychiatric unit, from which she was released after a few hours.
Heche stated she was "insane" for the first 31 years of her life, and that this was triggered by being sexually abused by her father during her infancy and childhood. In a series of interviews with Barbara Walters, Matt Lauer, and Larry King to promote Call Me Crazy in 2001, Heche stated on national television that she created a fantasy world called the "Fourth Dimension" to make herself feel safe, and had an alter ego who was the daughter of God and half-sister of Jesus Christ named "Celestia", who had contacts with extraterrestrial life forms. Heche said she recovered from her mental health concerns following the incident in Cantua Creek and has put her alter ego behind her.
Awards and nominations