Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Anne Heche Grew up in an Amish Community — Look Back at the Actress' Upbringing

Manuela Cardiga
Sep 06, 2020
08:00 A.M.
Share this pen

Actress Anne Heche has lived several lifetimes in her 51 years, from desperate poverty and living in an Amish community, to the bright lights of Hollywood, she's sampled it all, and survived to tell the tale.


Actress Anne Heche spent part of her childhood in an Amish community, but the strict religious discipline her father imposed on his family -- forbidding all books except the Bible -- hid the awful truth of ongoing abuse.

At 16, Heche's fragile beauty caught the eye of a talent scout a daytime soap opera, but her mother refused to allow her to act. At 18, another offer came her way and she headed for Hollywood, and ended up meeting up with yet another abuser: Harvey Weinstein.

Anne's mother Nancy works as a Christian therapist, attempting to "cure" gay men and women of their sexual orientation

Anne Heche at HBO's Post Emmy Awards Reception in 2017 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images



Anne was born into a profoundly dysfunctional family. Her ostensibly religious father was a part-time church piano player, and the family moved 11 times in the first 12 years of the actress' life. Donald Heche barely earned enough to put food on the table, and Anne's older siblings all worked to help support the family.

But behind the veil pious respectability, Donald carried on numerous homosexual affairs, and sexually abused Anne until she was 12. When the actress was 13, Donald died of AIDS. It was the end of the abuse, but not of the grinding poverty and the heartbreak.


Just a few months after their father's death, Anne's brother Nathan died in a car accident, which the actress believes to this day was a suicide. Her sister Cynthia had died in infancy, so her mother Nancy was left to raise her three surviving children, Abigail, Susan, and Anne as best she could. All three girls had jobs and contributed to the family budget.



At 16, Anne was spotted by a talent scout at a school play and offered a part in a daytime soap opera, but her mother insisted that she had to finish high school first. But when Anne was again offered a role in "Another World" after graduation, Nancy once again wanted to forbid her entry into show business, but by then the future actress was old enough to make her own decisions, and she headed for Hollywood.



"Another World" showcased Anne's talent and her gamine looks, and she was asked to audition for the 1996 Miramax production, "Beautiful Girls." Anne was offered one of the lead roles alongside Mira Sorvino, Natalie Portman, and Uma Thurman. Then, Anne was asked to attend a meeting in Harvey Weinstein's hotel room. When Weinstein exposed himself, Anne walked out, and she was fired the next day.


Mira Sorvino and Uma Thurman would later come forward as the Weinstein scandal broke and reveal that they had been sexually molested by the movie mogul. Anne spoke of Hollywood in Weinstein's heyday:

“Harvey’s little whorehouse. It really was. And when the story broke, it brought everything back to the surface.”


Anne believes that many of the young women who become actresses were targeted by Weinstein because he sensed their vulnerability and that her previous experience with abuse had given her the strength to walk away, and saved her from the fate of Rose McGowan and so many others of Weinstein's victims. 

Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres in 1997 | Source: Getty Images



Anne's career grew by leaps and bounds, and she starred in a series of hit movies including "Donnie Brasco," "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "Wag the Dog". Then she fell in love, and it all fell to pieces. Anne fell in love with actress and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, and the two women became Hollywood's first openly gay female couple. DeGeneres' sitcom was canceled, and Anne's career dried up. Today, Anne and DeGeneres are considered pioneers, but back in the mid-90s, being openly gay women was the kiss of death.



The relationship with DeGeneres lasted for 3 years and ended when Anne left the comedian for Coleman Laffoon. Anne married Laffoon, a cameraman she had met in 1999 during DeGeneres' stand-up comedy tour, and the couple welcomed a son, Homer, in 2002. The couple divorced in 2009, after Anne became romantically involved with her "Men in Trees" co-star James Tupper. 


Tupper and Anne welcomed a son, Atlas, in 2009. The couple was together until 2018, and their separation ended in a bitter battle over the custody of their son, and child support settlement. The actress claimed that Tupper earns more than she does due to the success of the series "Big Little Lies" and "A Million Little Things," while her own career is currently less successful.



Anne is now in a relationship with former "Hung" co-star Thomas Jane. The two had been friends for over a decade before their fancy turned to romance. Anne, a devoted mom to her two boys, Homer, 18, and Atlas, 11, has reached out to her own mother for closure, but Nancy has refused to acknowledge the abuse her daughter suffered and repudiated her overture. 

Despite her oppressive experience with religion in her youth, Anne is a profoundly spiritual person and has credited God with leading her to heal and helping her overcome her pain. She said:

"I’ve taken my children to church and I’ve told them that I want them to experience all religion. We talk about love and God very openly." 

Anne is reconciled with her sister Abigail, but sadly her sister Susan passed away in 2006 from a brain tumor. Anne's mother Nancy works as a Christian therapist, attempting to "cure" gay men and women of their sexual orientation. Nancy has never met Anne's children.

Advertisement does not support or promote any kind of violence, self-harm, or abusive behavior. We raise awareness about these issues to help potential victims seek professional counseling and prevent anyone from getting hurt. speaks out against the above mentioned and advocates for a healthy discussion about the instances of violence, abuse, sexual misconduct, animal cruelty, abuse etc. that benefits the victims. We also encourage everyone to report any crime incident they witness as soon as possible.