Actress Anne Heche

Award-winning actress discusses which type of character she has to work harder at–comedic or dramatic.

Anne Heche began her career as a singer-dancer. After high school, she landed the dual role of good/evil twins in the soap Another World, winning a Daytime Emmy, and has gone on to make small screen appearances in such fare as Men in Trees and HBO's Hung. She also wrote and directed a segment of HBO's If These Walls Could Talk 2. Heche won a Tony nod for her performance in Broadway's Twentieth Century and has film credits that include John Q and, her latest, Cedar Rapids. Her best-selling autobiographical book, Call Me Crazy, was published in '01.


Tavis: Pleased to welcome Anne Heche back to this program. The talented actress stars in a new film comedy called “Cedar Rapids.” The project made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. A lot of buzz there. It’s now in theaters. Here now a scene from “Cedar Rapids.”
Tavis: So, Anne, I was just whispering while that clip was playing. I was saying I’ve never been to Sundance.
Anne Heche: You have to go.
Tavis: I got to go one day, yeah. I seem to talk to you after they leave Sundance. Luke, I want to go to Sundance.
Heche: Take him to Sundance.
Tavis: Yes, you heard that. Take me to Sundance.
Heche: But let me be there. Let me be your first interview at Sundance.
Tavis: I would love to hang out with you.
Heche: Anne takes Tavis to Sundance.
Tavis: I like that. That sounds like a documentary.
Heche: I see the show. Let’s do it [laugh].
Tavis: That we’ll film and show the next year at Sundance.
Heche: Love it.
Tavis: So what’s it like when you’re showing a film like this at Sundance? Because there was so much buzz on this thing coming out of Sundance.
Heche: Well, it’s always such an honor to be asked to be there because it’s just the precursor in a way to, hopefully, good reviews and it’s the beginning thumbs up to your movie, so it’s always an honor.
When you go with a comedy, it’s so fantastic because everybody is going down the street happy and giggly, which is different. You know, most of the films they have there are a little depressing subject matters [laugh]. This is not that. People had a great time watching it.
Tavis: So what about this character? We know you as a gorgeous blonde.
Heche: Well, say that again. I’m sorry, what?
Tavis: Gorgeous blonde [laugh].
Heche: [Laugh] Thank you.
Tavis: What was it about this character that made – it was your decision to do the red hair thing?
Heche: Well, you know, this is a movie about a real specific thing. It’s about insurance salesmen who go to a convention once a year.
Tavis: There aren’t blonde insurance salesmen?
Heche: Well, the thing is, you know, she’s a very serious woman.
Tavis: There aren’t serious blonde women?
Heche: Certainly not that I have found [laugh]. So take that blonde right off my head. I do think it does say something a little bit different because, when you are a blonde and you know this and you haven’t had to have this experience, you have to go to the hair salon a lot because you don’t want to show your real color.
I really wanted her to be a woman who took her job and her family more seriously than maybe how she looks and, once a year, she gets to go in and pour a bottle of red over her hair. That’s what I wanted it to feel like, that one time, this is how she gets a little wild. And I also thought people were used to seeing me as a blonde.
I like to switch it up certainly when I’m doing characters. That was just kind of the beginning. Her name is Joan Ostrowski-Fox. I just though a fox needs to be a redhead.
Tavis: Yeah. Since we’re into it, tell me more about the story line behind the film.
Heche: Well, this is an insurance convention, as I said. There is a man who has never left his very small town and he is forced, through different circumstances, to go and represent his company. Because he’s never been out of his tiny town, he just thinks this is the grandest, most wonderful, most insane experience he’s ever seen, this convention.
He meets up with three people who take him on a ride, hopefully to open him up and experience life in a little bit fuller way. I am one; John C. Reilly and Isiah Whitlock are the three characters involved in taking him down basically.
Tavis: Tell me why – I mean, you explained how you wanted the character to be portrayed onscreen. I’m always curious about the back story of why it is, how it is, that you decide that you wanted to be in this particular project at this point in your career, how you’re making decisions about what roles you want to play.
Heche: Well, this is not a hard one when it’s a very, very funny script. It was so beautifully written. It was funny, it had heart. When I read it, also, it was a movie that was born in kindness. It wasn’t mean humor and I always look for that. I don’t like nasty humor. It might be a little dirty, this movie, but it’s not mean, so I liked that. I loved that there was a respect for the people in the Midwest. I was born in Ohio.
Tavis: I’m from Indiana.
Heche: My parents are from Indiana. I liked that it was shining a light on this situation in a comedic way, but in a respectful way. I also thought that, you know, it’s kind of a one-of-a-kind thing when you get to be a role that’s a strong woman who gets to be one of the guys a little bit and also be a leading lady. You know, this was not a movie that I would say no to. I mean, it was a blessing that it came to me and it was a fun ride all the way through.
Tavis: Speaking of fun ride, you’re really good at this comedy thing. You’re good at the dramatic thing as well.
Heche: Thank you.
Tavis: Is there – I don’t want to ask if there’s a preference. I want to ask if – yeah, I do want to ask if there’s a preference. That’s what I want to ask.
Heche: Well, I always have kind of found the characters that I do are always kind of born in truth and whether that truth takes me on an emotional journey that is a little bit deeper, which I’ve been blessed to be able to do those films too. When you can make people laugh, it is really great. It is a very different experience.
I think part of my goal as an actress is to move people, to reach people in a place that they understand and feel like they’re comfortable with who I am and what character I am that I’m bringing to the screen. But there’s nothing like sitting in a theater and you tell a joke and people get it all. I would not mind going in that direction a little bit more.
Tavis: About that, does that mean you want to do standup comedy someday?
Heche: Oh, my gosh. I don’t think anybody wants to see me do that. All I would do is like jokes about my kids. It would just be boring. No, I’m better when people write for me [laugh].
Tavis: I paused a moment ago because the question I really wanted to ask was not is there a preference. I know as an actor you want to do everything.
Heche: Sure, sure.
Tavis: That’s a silly question; forgive me on that.
Heche: No, it’s not. It’s not silly at all. If you ask Ed Helms, he’ll say, “No, no, no. I don’t want to do drama.”
Tavis: I think the question I really wanted to ask was which one of these do you have to work harder at? Since your characters are born in truth, which one do you, Anne Heche, have to work harder at to pull off to make you believable to us?
Heche: In drama, when you stick to the truth, as long as it’s true, it’s real. As long as it’s true, you’re gonna connect. Comedy, as I’ve learned now in my older age, I think, oh, you know what? A little bit of comedy – the difficulty in comedy is that you need to have not only truth, but you kind of have to have a perspective on what it is that you’re trying to say, that hopefully is where the humor is.
You know, you’re doing an insurance convention. Well, I don’t know. They’re probably not a life riot [laugh], so you want to have a bit of a perspective on what might make it funny to be an insurance salesman. It’s more of a layered process than drama sometimes because you want to shine some light and make something grow out of something that doesn’t necessarily exist, and that’s the fun of comedy and certainly hopefully that somebody hasn’t seen before or done before.
Tavis: Should I forward you all the emails from the funny insurance people who are gonna send me notes that they’re not that dry [laugh]?
Heche: I said it’s not “necessarily” funny [laugh].
Tavis: I’m gonna forward all that to Anne.
Heche: Oh, I’m gonna get it. I’m gonna get it on the blogs. The insurance blogs are gonna be saying, “Did you see what Anne said on Tavis?” [Laugh]
Tavis: You mentioned your kids earlier. I happen to know your elder son.
Heche: You do know Homer, yes.
Tavis: Homer. So Homer’s doing well?
Heche: Homer is fantastic right now.
Tavis: Since I last saw you, though, Homer has a brother now.
Heche: He does. We have a baby Atlas. He’s two. They both had a birthday in the same week.
Tavis: So Homer and Atlas.
Heche: Homer said, “You can have another baby; just not on the day I was born.”
Tavis: That’s what Homer told you.
Heche: We handled that one.
Tavis: But in the same week?
Heche: Same week.
Tavis: Wow.
Heche: The 2nd and the 7th [laugh]. I know. Homer just said, “I’m never sharing a birthday party with whatever’s in your belly.” We were like, “Okay, cool.”
Tavis: So you have two – I’m praying for you.
Heche: Thank you [laugh].
Tavis: You have two birthday parties in the same week?
Heche: Yes, yeah. You know, Atlas is only two, so his birthday party wasn’t a rocking riot. You know what I mean? It was, “Let’s go out to dinner and you can blow out what you don’t understand yet is a candle.”
Tavis: I’m glad you said that, though, because –
Heche: – and your brother’s balloons are also yours. He didn’t know. It went right over his head.
Tavis: I’m glad you said that because it raises this question for me. I have friends, of course, – I don’t have kids.
Heche: You have friends?
Tavis: I know it’s hard to imagine.
Heche: Really. Really do a documentary on that [laugh].
Tavis: I have friends who have kids. I don’t have kids as yet, but it cracks me up when I go to my friends’ party for their kids and they will spend like exorbitant amounts of money and do everything for a two-year-old, to your point, who doesn’t even understand what the heck’s going on. They want to play with the paper and they’ve got all this other stuff. So you’re not into that yet? You don’t do it like that?
Heche: No, a bunch of presents. In fact, as I was out shopping with Homer for Homer’s birthday cake, he saw a red ball. He loves ball and he saw a red ball that you can bounce around and he said, “That would be perfect for Atlas.” I was like great, presents done. We’ll take one. Thirty bucks. Done.
That was it, and James and I gave it to him on and he loved it. He didn’t care. Saw a rubber band and was like I’d rather shoot this anyway. They don’t know, they don’t know. How long can I keep him in this kind of vague understanding of birthdays? I can save a lot of money.
Tavis: When I first came to know you – and a lot of other fans, I suspect, really got to know you – it was in a period of your life where you were in the news all the time for the relationship you were in then. How do you – what do I want to ask here? Is life easier now? Is life better now? You prefer being out of that kind of spotlight?
Heche: [Laugh] Do you want an answer to that question [laugh]?
Tavis: Yeah, I want you to answer that, yeah, yeah. I’m serious. I mean, you were like in our faces every day. I mean, you’re busy. You’re acting. You’re in “Hung” – I want to talk about that right quick – You’re in “Hung,” in movies. But I’m just wondering whether or not at this point in your life, being able to be a mother, have two kids and not be involved in all that, you know.
Heche: Well, it’s funny what people have found interesting about my life to watch. I’ve always been working and yet sometimes things have kind of taken over and been more interesting in a personal life. At some point, you have to say, wow, that’s really amazing that people are even interested in what I’m doing.
I couldn’t understand or even process that when I was going through it. I had no idea why people would be interested in the choices that I was making in my life. You do the work, and you’re still doing work, and you think, oh, well, my work must not be interesting enough to take over [laugh] –
Tavis: – I don’t think it’s that.
Heche: – the press.
Tavis: No, I don’t think that.
Heche: But now it’s really wonderful that people are – or that I’ve been given the opportunity to actually be offering the art up to the world in a way that has kind of overtaken how interested people are in my life.
Tavis: And doesn’t that feel better, though?
Heche: It’s really nice. It’s nice because it is what I do. It is what I offer, or now it could be said that my personal life is really boring [laugh].
Tavis: If you’re happy, that’s all that matters.
Heche: What’s wonderful is that I’ve come to a really beautiful place in my life and I have a gorgeous husband and two children and people are starting to really pay attention to these, as I said, great opportunities that people are offering me in film and on television now.
Tavis: Speaking of great opportunities, speaking of TV right quick, so “Hung” is coming back for its third season?
Heche: Third season. It’s really great.
Tavis: You enjoying this still?
Heche: Oh, my gosh. We’re just starting our third episode. We shot two already and, when I arrived on set, I looked at the creators and I said, “I just can’t believe it. It feels so wonderful to come back.” Who’s lucky enough to have a job for three years in a row? You, Tavis, are.
Tavis: Yeah, well.
Heche: Now not many actors here have that opportunity.
Tavis: Because I’m not acting. This is based in truth every night [laugh]. That’s why. If I started acting, trust me, I wouldn’t last a day or so.
Heche: Well, we feel very lucky when we get to come back to have a job.
Tavis: Well, I’m honored to have you on this show always.
Heche: So happy to be here.
Tavis: Please give my best to Homer.
Heche: Thank you. I will.
Tavis: I felt a little weird when I said that I knew Homer. I said let me explain how I know Homer. He’s only nine.
Heche: Your very good friend, Homer [laugh].
Tavis: Yeah, exactly. How’s he hanging out with Homer? Anne used to be my next door neighbor and that’s how I know Homer.
Heche: And you’ve invited us over, so we’re coming to knock on your door tonight.
Tavis: I haven’t seen Homer in a while, so please bring him by so I can say hello to him. The movie is “Cedar Rapids,” of course, “Hung” starting its third season a little bit later this year. Anne, always good to see you.
Heche: Thank you. Thank you for having me here.
Tavis: It’s my pleasure.
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Last modified: April 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm