Actress Anne Heche (May 25, 1969-August 11, 2022) first gained notice on the NBC soap “Another World,” in which she played twins Marley and Vicky Hudson, for which she won a Daytime Emmy Award. Her subsequent film career included roles opposite Johnny Depp in “Donnie Brasco,” Tommy Lee Jones in “Volcano,” Harrison Ford in “Six Days, Seven Nights,” and Vince Vaughn and Joaquin Phoenix in “Return to Paradise.” One of her best performances was as a White House aide opposite media spin doctor Robert De Niro in the 1997 political satire “Wag the Dog.”
Other credits included “Walking and Talking,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” the color shot-for-shot remake of “Psycho,” “John Q,” “Birth,” “Cedar Rapids” and “Wild Card.” On TV she starred in the comedy series “Men in Trees,” “Save Me,” “Dig,” “Aftermath,” “The Brave,” and “The Idol,” and appeared in “Ally McBeal,” “Hung,” “The Michael J. Fox Show,” “Chicago P.D.,” and “All Rise.” In 2020 she was a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars.”
In her candid 2001 memoir “Call Me Crazy,” Heche recounted her peripatetic and oppressive childhood (her family moved nearly a dozen times), and years of sexual abuse by her father. She began acting at age 12 at a N.J. dinner theater to earn money for her family after her father died of complications from AIDS. The following year her 23-year-old brother died by suicide.
At 17 she began therapy for having experienced “a lot of death, and a lot of abuse and homelessness,” she told the Associated Press. “I went through eight years of trying to be at peace with who I was and what had happened to me as a child.” In her book she described developing a separate personality due to her suffering.
In 1997 she began a relationship with comedian Ellen Degeneres, making them one of Hollywood’s first openly-gay couples. (They would be together for three years.) But Heche said it affected her professionally – she claimed the studio threatened her if she brought Degeneres to the “Volcano” premiere afterparty, and that it was Ford’s support that kept her from being fired from the rom-com “Six Days, Seven Nights.” As media outlets tut-tutted over “how to deal with a gay actress whose career has been built on playing heterosexual roles,” Heche claimed to be blacklisted from studio pictures. She continued to work on TV, and on Broadway (in “Proof” and “Twentieth Century”).
Heche’s mental health issues would also become fodder for the media, as when she had a public breakdown following the end of her relationship with Degeneres. She would go on to have two children, one with husband Coleman Laffoon (whom she divorced in 2009), and one with actor James Tupper.
In 2020 Heche was asked by the magazine Mr. Warburton what advice she would share with a young up-and-comer struggling with insecurity or finding their true self: “Risk is the key. Be yourself. Be brave. Also, the longer I have been in the business, the more I know that everyone pretends to know more than they do. So don’t be intimidated!”