The American actress Anne Heche has died, a week after she was seriously injured in a car accident.
The news was confirmed by a representative of her family to US online media outlet TMZ, who said in a statement: “We have lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother and a loyal friend.
“Anne will be deeply missed, but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic work and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery to always stand in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact.”
On Friday afternoon, representatives of Heche, 53, confirmed she was “brain dead,” which under California law is the definition of death. It was announced earlier in the day Heche would be removed from life support. It is understood her heartbeat was maintained in case suitable organ donation could take place.
On Friday night, Heche’s oldest son, Homer, 20, released a statement on behalf of himself and his half-brother, Atlas, 13.
“My brother Atlas and I lost our mother,” he told People. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully my mom is out of pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom.”
He added: “Throughout these six days, thousands of friends, family and fans made their hearts known to me. I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my father, Coley, and my stepmother, Alexi, who continue to be my rock in this time.”
“Rest in peace mom, I love you,” Homer Heche concluded.
Earlier on Friday, a friend of the actor, Nancy Davis, wrote on Instagram: “Heaven has a new angel. My loving, kind, funny, endearing and beautiful friend @anneheche went to heaven. I will miss her terribly and cherish about all the beautiful memories we’ve shared.
“Anne was always the kindest, most thoughtful person who always brought out the best in me … My heart is broken.”
Heche’s former partner, Ellen DeGeneres, wrote on Twitter: “This is a sad day. I send all my love to Anne’s children, family and friends.”
“Rest in peace Anne,” actress Patricia Arquette tweeted. “Anne Heche was a wildly talented actress who endured more horror than anyone should have to.” added respected film historian Mark Harris on Twitter. Harris linked to a 2009 profile of the actress, which described her traumatic childhood. “She deserves to be remembered with compassion.”
Many had hoped Heche would recover after a publicist for the actor reported her in “stable” condition after crashing her car into a house in Los Angeles on August 5. Firefighters said she had been talking to them when she was cut free from the wreckage and taken to the hospital.
But the actor lost consciousness shortly after and on August 8, reps released an update saying Heche was in “extremely critical condition” and had slipped into a coma. On Friday, her family said in a statement that she was not expected to survive and that she was being kept on life support to determine whether her organs could be donated.
An actor of sharp intelligence, Heche rose to prominence in the early 1990s playing twins on the soap Another World, and with film roles, including as Catherine Keener’s sister in Nicole Holofcener’s debut film, Walking and Talking.
Her first major role was as Johnny Depp’s girlfriend in the gangster drama Donnie Brasco (1997). That same year, she was cast in other enduring titles: political satire Wag the Dog, disaster film Volcano and slasher classic I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Also that year, Heche began a high-profile relationship with sitcom star and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, shortly after the comedian came out as gay. The couple were together for three years; Heche spoke of his gratitude to Harrison Ford, who continued to produce the romance Six Days, Seven Nights, despite the homophobic backlash to Heche’s real-life relationship.
In 1998, she starred as Marion Crane in Gus van Sant’s revisionist, shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho, after which she averaged one film a year for the following decade, choosing creatively ambitious projects to juggle parenting responsibilities .
She played Nicole Kidman’s sister in Jonathan Glazer’s psychological drama Birth and Ashton Kutcher’s girlfriend in the hustler comedy Spread. In 2011, she starred in the award-winning indie comedy Cedar Rapids and starred as corrupt cop Woody Harrelson’s ex-wife in Rampart.
Recent major film roles include the mother of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in a 2017 biopic and as a raging artist opposite Sandra Oh in the acclaimed 2016 black comedy Catfight. Reviewing the film, the Guardian’s Benjamin Lee called it “a rare comedy with something to say and a uniquely ambitious structure that goes far beyond its limited budget.
“Both leads are excellent, with Heche in particular proving to be a welcome presence on the big screen, allowed to inhabit more than just a supporting role.”
She was also a contestant on the 2020 season of the American show Dancing with the Stars.
In 2001, Heche published a memoir, Call Me Crazy, which describes her turbulent upbringing as the youngest of five children in a family that moved 11 times during her childhood.
When Heche was 13, her father died of AIDS, which she said he contracted from same-sex partners. Heche also claimed that her father repeatedly raped her as a child, which led to her contracting genital herpes as a youngster. Other members of her family disputed the claim.
Three months after their father died, Heche’s brother, Nathan, died in a car accident that his sister claimed was a suicide. Heche soon became estranged from his mother.
In 2000, Heche reportedly drove to the desert and walked a short distance to a foreign ranch, where she asked to take a shower and then settled into the living room to watch a movie.
The resident of the house called the local sheriff after Heche showed no signs of leaving; the actress was briefly admitted to a psychiatric ward and admitted that she had taken ecstasy. In her book, Heche says she was “insane” for the first 31 years of her life because of the abuse she said she suffered at the hands of her father.
Heche promoted the memoir, saying that she previously, for safety, would retreat into an alter ego: Christ’s half-sister who had contact with extraterrestrial life forms.
In 2001, Heche married cameraman Coleman Laffoon, with whom she had Homer. The marriage ended in divorce, and in 2009 Heche had another son, Atlas, with James Tupper, her Men in Trees co-star.