While Anne Heche has put her past in the past, the 48-year-old doesn’t deny that it informs who she is today as an actress. In her 2001 memoir, Call Me Crazy, Heche talked about being sexually abused by her father, and her mother not believing the allegation.
This triggered a mental breakdown when Heche was 31. In the book, she surmised, that she had been “insane” for the first 31 years of her life.
Her statement popped up during a phone interview to promote her new series The Brave.
“Well the thing about insanity – and I never thought anyone would take me seriously after Call Me Crazy – I had a point of view of my life and it took me 31 years to figure it out. What jumps at me from that journey was that I had to come to clarity of who I was, what I was about, and getting rid of the layers of abuse in my life.”
In a career that started in 1988, Heche has had her share of ups and downs – making substantial films like Wag The Dog (1997) and Donnie Brasco (1997), as well as duds like Six Days Seven Nights (1998) and Psycho (1998).
But through it all, she has been working consistently both on films and TV. The small-screen especially has been advantageous to her life.
Heche met her second and current husband James Tupper, while working on the series Men In Trees. They’ve also starred in Nothing Left To Fear (2013) and Aftermath (2016).
Together, they are parents to their son, Atlas, and Heche’s son, Homer, with first husband, Coleman Laffoon.
It became clear during this 30-minute interview that Heche is not only honest and willing to talk about herself, she is also passionate about motherhood and acting.
Her strong personality serves Heche well in The Brave where she portrays Patricia Campbell, the deputy director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency. Patricia’s job is to sieve through classified information to aid elite undercover military officers stationed all over the world in order to keep the peace.
(Listen to an excerpt of her interview below.)
1. You have a commanding presence in The Brave. How do you get into that head-space and does your authoritative voice work on your children?
I wish it did work with my children (laughs). With (every) new character, I tend to go as deep into who the person is, what their moral code is or isn’t.
My commitment was to know what it means to be the (character) who could remove emotions and make that right decision no matter what.
2. How has your past helped you become the actress that you are now?
I was brought into this very, very, chaotic, abusive world. If I hadn’t been born into that situation, would I be the actress that I am? Absolutely not.
Would I be the same actress? No. Would I be offered the same cards offered to me? No. I think what we’re born into is what gives us a communion with ourselves. If we’re lucky enough to find the freedom of expression, out of pain, (then) we find out who we are and what we’re here to do.
3. Do you have to like a character, in order to play her well?
(To play a character) I have to find their truth. I don’t think anybody goes around thinking they are doing something wrong. In that context, I just played (serial killer) Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother (in the upcoming film My Friend Dahmer) who I believe is responsible somehow for not paying attention to her son and the wreckage that he created.
But I had to find a way to like her … I didn’t have to agree with her, my agreement was to the character.
The week that I played her, I was completely destroyed. I thought she was the most hateful human being because she ignored her son’s need. The No. 1 thing that I believe is evil, is not parenting your kids. You choose to bring a child in this world, he or she is your responsibility. What gets me up in the morning, is to honour that.
4. How has your take on acting changed since you started?
Dramatically. In fact I just had an incredible transition in my life. I didn’t know I was looking for it, but when you get to a stage, you wonder what the next step is going to be.
I did a show called Aftermath with my husband, where I played a mother … who without a doubt was someone who’d do anything for her children.
I love the series, it was just a phenomenal experience. My husband took me to Hawaii to celebrate that it was over, because it was one of most painful, difficult, physical roles that either of us had ever done… (We) watched the premiere and I wept. I turned to him, and said, “I no longer have to play characters borne of my past.”
The only thing I ever wanted to do is show and represent a mother I believe every child deserves. I just didn’t know until I did that show.
5. Do you think there are more roles for women now?
We are starting to move into a gender-free world, where people are hired because of how good they are at what they do.
There are great roles for women. And I hope they continue to cast them as the person who they’re trying to represent in the story, and this doesn’t necessarily mean male, female or black and white.
The 13-episode series The Brave airs every Tuesday at 10pm on Cinemax (Astro Ch 412).