In People's exclusive excerpt from her new book, "Call Me Anne," which the late actress was working on before her tragic death in August, Heche opened up about her romance with DeGeneres, explaining how the public's interest in their relationship affected her as well as her career.
However, despite the media attention, Heche praised her romance with DeGeneres, calling the comedian, "the first and only woman that I ever fell in love with."
The pair dated from 1997 to 2000, shortly after DeGeneres came out as a lesbian and as Heche was making a name for herself with films including "Volcano," "I Know What You Did Last Summer," "Psycho" and "Six Days, Seven Nights."
However, one day towards the beginning of filming "Six Days, Seven Nights," Heche said she was sent into her costar Harrison Ford's trailer, where the movie's director, Ivan Reitman, confronted her over her relationship with DeGeneres. According to Heche, Reitman wasn't happy over the many headlines and rumors about their romance.
"In 1997, I began a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres and was on the set of my first starring role in a big-budget movie, 'Six Days, Seven Nights," she recalled. "I was called into my costar Harrison Ford's trailer one lunch break within the first week of shooting. I was met with the sight of director Ivan Reitman and Harrison sitting on one of two white pleather sofas. I hesitantly sat on the opposite white pleather sofa."
"They had seen the evening news. Rumors were reported that Ellen and I were pregnant," she continued. "Our 'pregnancy' was everywhere. They showed me this as proof of why this openness about my relationship was becoming a pain in the ass for them. Why, Ivan asked me, can't I just be like Jodie Foster? (I didn't know what that meant. 'Everybody knows it,' he explained, 'it' being her sexuality. 'She just doesn't talk about it.')"
Heche wrote that she "found it odd that anyone thought I could get pregnant so quickly with a woman," however, she said it was "even odder, that they cared so much about the perception that I was going to ruin a movie that hadn't even been shot?"
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The Emmy winner said this wasn't the "most devastating thing," explaining that what upset her the most was how "no one bothered to ask" her why she was willing to "risk" so much for her relationship with DeGeneres.
"... Through it all, from the first week with Ellen to writing my first book, 'Call Me Crazy' in 2001, was that no one bothered to ask me about any of it," she wrote. "No matter how many articles were written about me, no one asked me why I had done what I did. What was the force that would have made a human being risk everything they'd been promised, their entire career? Why? Why would I have done that?"
Heche then detailed the reason why. "Since nobody asked, I will tell you why. Because I had lived in a family that was built upon lies," she recalled. "My father hid his sexuality his entire life."
"When I met Ellen and she was open and honest about her sexuality, it was the most attractive and alluring quality in a person that I had ever seen," she added. "I was mesmerized by her honesty, and that is why she was the first and only woman that I ever fell in love with. I was in love with a person who had chosen to leverage her very public persona in support of the cause she was standing up for, which was LGBTQ+ rights for everybody on the planet who wanted them."
In excerpts from "Call Me Anne" released back in September, Heche wrote about the complicated thoughts going through her head as her relationship with DeGeneres was thrust into the spotlight.
"I was labeled 'outrageous' because I fell in love with a woman. I had never been with a woman before I dated Ellen," she wrote (via AP). "I did not, personally, identify as a lesbian. I simply fell in love! It was, to be clear, as odd to me as anyone else."
"There were no words to describe how I felt. Gay didn't feel right, and neither did straight. Alien might be the best fit, I sometimes thought," she continued. "What, why, and how I fell in love with a person instead of their gender, I would have loved to have answered if anyone had asked, but as I said earlier, no one ever did."
"I am happy that I was able to tell you in this book -- once and for all," she added.
Heche reportedly signed a deal for the book last May and turned in a manuscript for "Call Me Anne" before her death in August.
"Anne was an inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community and beyond," said publisher Jarred Weisfeld of Start Publishing's Viva Editions imprint. "This book deserves to be read by all of her fans. We are grateful to have the opportunity to share her message with the world. While we are very sad that Anne isn't here to see the book be published we know it’s what she would have wanted."
Per Weisfeld, the book will "consist of personal anecdotes of her rise to fame: how Harrison Ford became her on-set mentor, her relationship with Ellen Degeneres, her encounter with Harvey Weinstein, her history of childhood sexual abuse, her relationship with God, her journey to love herself."
Heche died at the age of 53 following a car crash on August 5, 2022, an accident that left her in a coma. She was declared brain dead on August 12, before she was taken off life support two days later.
Heche is survived by her two sons, Atlas Heche Tupper, 13, and Homer Laffoon, 20.