Also Credited As:Anne Celeste Heche
|Actor, Director, Producer, Writer|
|Anne Celeste Heche on May 25, 1969 in Aurora, Ohio, USA|
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Anne Heche's tumultuous childhood began on May 25, 1969, when she was born into the fundamentalist Christian family of Nancy and Donald Heche. Her father was an itinerant Baptist minister and choir director who relocated his family yearly in search of work. It was not until 1983 when it was discovered that he had, in actuality, been holding down a double life as a homosexual businessman. Heche lived in several towns in Ohio and in Atlantic City, NJ among other places, while enduring what she claimed was a painful and loveless childhood that included sexual abuse by her father. Heche admittedly retreated into her own fantasyland to escape, standing out with her childhood forays into acting. Before long, though, her family's desperate financial situation necessitated that everyone do their share to bring home the rent, and 12-year-old Heche obliged after landing her first professional acting job at a New Jersey dinner theater. The following year, her father was diagnosed with the then-rare disease AIDS, and his secretive lifestyle was disclosed on his deathbed. Heche's only brother was tragically killed in a car accident weeks later.
Heche and her mother made a new start in Chicago, IL where Heche was active in high school theater and was even courted by an agent to audition for a role on "As the World Turns" (CBS, 1956- ). The 16-year-old was flown to New York and offered a job, but she did not want to uproot her barely stabilized family again, so she opted to stay and finish high school. Less than two years later, Heche went back to New York City where she landed her first major TV role, that of good and evil twins Vicky and Marley on the NBC soap opera "Another World" (NBC, 1964-1999). Heche made quite an impression with the complicated dual role, earning Daytime Emmy and Soap Opera Digest Awards, though off-screen she was becoming completely unraveled. She had begun therapy to try to make some sense of her childhood and uncovered haunting memories of sexual abuse, causing her behavior to grow more erratic. Heche taped her final episode of "As the World Turns" in 1992 and the following year made a significant TV film debut alongside Jessica Lange in the Golden Globe-nominated adaptation of Willa Cather's "O' Pioneers" (CBS).
Perhaps her fracturing real-life personality lent an interesting perspective to her acting craft, but whatever it was, Heche was undoubtedly a true talent. Off-screen she embraced a second personality that claimed to be from another dimension and able to talk to the dead and heal the sick. Onscreen, she made her feature debut as Mary Jane Wilks in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1993) and gradually landed larger roles in "I'll Do Anything" (1994) and TV movies "Against the Wall" (HBO, 1994) and "Kingfish: A Story of Huey Long" (TNT, 1995), playing the notorious Southern politician's mistress. Her breakthrough role was that of a doctor friend of Demi Moore who falls victim to a hit man in the thriller "The Juror" (1996). She went on to co-star with Catherine Keener in the acclaimed indie "Walking and Talking' (1996) before giving an exceptional performance opposite Johnny Depp as the suffering wife of "Donnie Brasco" (1997), an FBI agent whose intensely guarded job as a mafia infiltrator threatens to destroy his own life and family. Heche then teamed with Tommy Lee Jones in the disaster flick "Volcano" and continued her rise with a well-reviewed turn as a presidential advisor in Barry Levinson's political satire "Wag the Dog" (1997).
Heche's well-deserved attention for her 1997 performances was overshadowed by bigger news that year; news that she and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres were in love. The news came hot on the heels of DeGeneres' public admission of her own sexuality and the groundbreaking episode of her sitcom "Ellen" (ABC, 1994-98) in which her lead character also came out. Prior to this, Heche had been romantically linked to her male co-stars, including a two-year relationship with Steve Martin, so even gay community supporters were left scratching their heads. Meanwhile, the actress had just landed a co-starring role with Harrison Ford in the romantic adventure "Six Days, Seven Nights" (1998), and producers hoped that Heche's updated sexual status would not compromise the audiences' ability to accept her in a heterosexual role - especially after her every move with DeGeneres began being chronicled by the press and paparazzi.
Unfortunately, "Six Days" itself failed to bring in audiences, as did "Return to Paradise" (1998), in which she co-starred as a lawyer opposite Vince Vaughn. Meanwhile, she and DeGeneres morphed into poster children of the gay community, causing a commotion on the red carpet that rivaled that of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. They also announced that they would be getting married in Vermont, where it was soon to become legal for same sex couples to do so. Due no doubt in part to her personal life, Heche's feature career cooled a bit from her whirlwind of the previous year. Her portrayal of Marion Crane (again opposite Vaughn as Norman Bates) in Gus Van Santa's lambasted shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock's classic "Psycho" (1998) did not help matters. In 1999, she played the skeptical daughter of a woman proposed as a candidate for sainthood in "The Third Miracle," while rumors persisted that she was the model for the ruthlessly ambitious actress played by Heather Graham in ex-beau Steve Martin's comedy "Bowfinger" (1999). Heche wrote and directed the "2000" segment of the Emmy-nominated HBO movie "If These Walls Could Talk 2" (2000), an anthology about the lesbian experience in America, in a piece starring DeGeneres and Sharon Stone as a couple trying to have a baby. For the pair's second creative collaboration, Heche accompanied DeGeneres on a comedy tour as the director of "Ellen DeGeneres: American Summer Documentary" (2001). It was on this tour that she met a cameraman Coleman Laffoon, known to his friends as "Coley."
Before the film was released, however, the power lesbian couple called it quits, reportedly devastating DeGeneres for a very long time. Days after moving out of their shared home, Heche was picked up by police in a rural area of California's Central valley, where she was found wandering in a confused state claiming to be looking for a spaceship that was supposed to be meeting her. Later in the year, Heche released the hastily written memoir Call Me Crazy in which she explained that the event was the culmination of many years of living with a second personality, Celestia, and attempting to process her childhood abuse by finding love and security. Heche claimed that following the experience and single day on a mental ward, she literally snapped out of it, put her alter-ego behind her, and resumed her life with new clarity. In a further unexpected twist - and one that alienated her legions of gay supporters - Heche (who was obviously just experimenting with DeGeneres) married her cameraman beau, Laffoon within the year and became pregnant with their child.
The press eventually settled down from the field day of Heche's personal journey, and her career got back on track surprisingly quickly. She had a featured role in the Denzel Washington thriller "John Q" and also played Dr. Sterling in the long-delayed adaptation of Elizabeth Wurtzel's bestseller "Prozac Nation" (2001). Television writer-producer David E. Kelley cast her in a recurring role on the hit "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002) as the eccentric, turrets-addled soulmate of John Cage (Peter MacNicol) during the 2000-01 season. Following the birth of her son, Homer, in 2002, Heche replaced Jennifer Jason Leigh in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "Proof" on Broadway. In 2004, the resilient actress received an Emmy nomination for playing a drug-addicted mother who neglects her children in the Lifetime movie "Gracie's Choice" (2004). She also appeared in a recurring role on the WB drama "Everwood" (2002-06) before returning to Broadway where she was nominated for a Tony Award for a revival of the showbiz-themed comedy "Twentieth Century," starring opposite Alec Baldwin.
Clearly, by the time she took on a recurring role on "Nip/Tuck" in 2005 as an ex-mob wife and Witness Protection Program subject who requires plastic surgery, Heche had reclaimed a great deal of her once-tarnished professional luster. By next fall, she was headlining her own primetime show, ABC's quirky dramedy "Men in Trees" (ABC, 2006- ) where she starred as a transplanted New York author living in small town Alaska which happens to be abundant with single men and few women. The show was well-received by critics and Heche was singled out for her charming performance, a performance that also charmed hunky co-star James Tupper, with whom Heche began a romance following - her husband later claimed 'prior to' - the break-up of her marriage to Laffoon in 2006, who filed for divorce from Heche in February, 2007. The split was yet another bitter one for Heche who fought hard in court against paying alimony or child support to her estranged husband - who claimed that she was an unfit parent and had exhibited "bizarre and delusional behavior;" that Homer should stay with him in L.A. while Heche filmed on location in Canada. In the end, the cameraman was granted primary physical custody. Things only went downhill from there, with "Men in Trees" getting the ax following the 2007-08 writer's strike, leaving Heche to insist to the court that she could no longer pay Laffoon the monthly installments of $14,978 in child support.