Good roles keep coming for Heche

January 06, 1998|By Frank Rizzo | Frank Rizzo,HARTFORD COURANT

NEW YORK -- Anne Heche had no problems answering questions -- about anything.

Chatty, vivacious and funny, the 27-year-old actress talked frankly about her romantic relationship with comedian Ellen DeGeneres, her disapproving religious family and her very hot career, including her latest work, "Wag the Dog."

It was the journalists who were a little tongue-tied.

After all, it's unusual for a Hollywood star to address his or her sexuality without being coy, calculating or closeted.

"You know what's so funny?" asks Heche (pronounced HAYSH), "I've gone through two days of interviews, and while it's obvious that I'm happy to talk about anything, not one person will actually mention Ellen's name in a question."

So how has Heche's career been since the two women went public with their romance last spring?

"I'll tell you when I stop working," she shot back with the dry snap of Eve Arden.

After "Volcano," "Donnie Brasco" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer" this year, Heche landed the role of a presidential adviser in the David Mamet-scripted "Wag the Dog," playing opposite Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman. Barry Levinson directs the "Dr. Strangelove"-meets-"Network" comedy.

She'll next play opposite Harrison Ford in the romantic comedy "Six Days, Seven Nights," followed by "Force Majeure" with Vince Vaughan and Joaquin Phoenix, about Malaysian drug trafficking.

Heche, who won an Emmy in 1991 for her role in the soap opera "Another World," says that it was never a problem for her to "come out."

It was more a problem for those around her, which led her to fire her longtime agent and manager just as her career started to heat up.

"I let the people go who asked me not to be open about my relationship with Ellen," she says. "They were asking me to be a little less of myself, and it was an education to see how uncomfortable they were with gays. But those aren't the people I wanted in my life."

Heche says she welcomes her gay poster-gal role.

"It's pretty cool for me to be able to stand up for being whatever you want to be," she says. "That's quite an honor, actually, and I love that people say that I'm a person who stands up for being open and truthful. I don't believe at all that it's an invasion on my privacy. I have had the best six months of my life."

Heche says she now believes in the romantic fantasy premise of her next film with Harrison Ford, which will be released in May.

"Oh, sure," she says. "You crash on an island, and you fall in love with a guy who is supposedly exactly wrong for you. But I fell in love with a girl who was supposedly exactly wrong for me, and it turned out to be brilliant. So actually I believe in the movie more than any actress ever would."

She says that although her friends have supported her, her family has not been so embracing.

"My father is dead, so I don't need his opinion, although he would probably be shocked by it," she says of her Christian minister father, who died of AIDS at the age of 43 years ago. "He was gay but didn't tell us he was gay, so I'm sure he is looking down, if he is above, or, I dunno, maybe he's looking up, stunned.

"My mother is not pleased, and I think it's too bad. I don't love living in a world of judgment and certainly not my mother's."

She says she hasn't talked to her two sisters for "quite a while.

"I don't know how they're dealing with it, but, from my opinion, they're not dealing with it in a very embracing way. But who knows? They're going through their own process about it."

She says she hopes to return to the behind-the-camera work in film. She wrote, produced and directed a short film, "Stripping for Jesus."

And she is also working on a children's book, "Adelaide, God's Fairy."

She's also purchased a book for her own film company that a friend is writing called "Blessed Is the Fruit," "that I hope to do with Jada Pinkett [who is also in 'Force Majeure'], but at the moment, I haven't been able to get off the acting train."

Pub Date: 1/06/98

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