The former Ellen DeGeneres Show host and Heche had an instant connection when they met in 1997, and the women were smitten.
“I met her at the Vanity Fair party. And it was a chemistry thing that you can’t really describe,” DeGeneres later recalled while speaking with the Tampa Bay Times in May 1998. “It just happened. Obviously, I was attracted to her, but that wasn’t enough. There are a lot of attractive people. She is so unique.”
The pair initially crossed paths shortly before DeGeneres’ Time magazine cover story, which ready, “Yep, I’m Gay,” hit newsstands and just days before Heche’s film Volcano was set to hit theaters.
Despite any potential backlash at the time, Heche opted to have DeGeneres by her side when she walked the 1997 Volcano red carpet. The choice ultimately changed her career — and shifted how same-sex couples were viewed.
“I took Ellen, we were told that my contract for Fox would be [ended] and I would be fired. And that the movie that I had just met Harrison Ford on wouldn’t hire me,” Heche recalled during a 2018 interview on the “Irish Goodbye” podcast. “And we went to the premiere — these are the stories that I know people don’t know — we went to the premiere, we were tapped on the shoulder, put into her limo in the third act and told that we couldn’t have pictures of us taken at the press junket. And both she and I were fired that week.”
The Brave alum was referring to her allegedly being blacklisted in Hollywood and DeGeneres’ sitcom Ellen going off the air less than one year after they went public with their romance.
“I tried to back out of her life,” DeGeneres said when speaking to the Tampa Bay Times in May 1998. “I said, ‘I think I’m ruining your career and your life and I don’t think that I’m good for you. I think I should get out of here.’”
The pair ultimately called it quits in 2000, but not before they left a major mark on the entertainment industry.
“I was in a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres for three and a half years and the stigma attached to that relationship was so bad that I was fired from my multi-million-dollar picture deal and I did not work in a studio picture for 10 years,” the 13 Minutes actress claimed while competing on Dancing With the Stars in October 2020.
Despite the negativity that came with their relationship, Heche called her time with DeGeneres a “beautiful part” of her life.
“I’m proud to have been part of a revolution that helped move equality forward,” she told Mrs. Warburton magazine in August 2020 when speaking about the past romance, adding, “But there is still work to do.”
Scroll down to relive Heche and DeGeneres’ relationship from the beginning: