American actor Anne Heche has died a week after being 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 body of work and her passionate advocacy. Her courage to always stand in her truth and spread her message of love and acceptance will have a lasting impact.”
On Friday afternoon representatives for Heche, 53, confirmed she was “brain dead,” which is the definition of dead under California law. Earlier in the day it was announced that Heche would be taken off the ventilator. Obviously, her heartbeat was maintained in case appropriate organ donation could take place.
On Friday night, Heche’s eldest son, Homer, made a statement on behalf of himself and his younger brother, Atlas.
“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 grief. Hopefully my mother is free from pain and begins to discover what I like to envision as her eternal freedom.”
He added: “In those six days, thousands of friends, family and fans have expressed their hearts to me. I am grateful for their love, as well as for the support of my father, Coley and my stepmother Alexi, who during this time have remained my rock in the surf.”
“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, fun, endearing and beautiful friend @anneheche went to heaven. I will miss her terribly and cherish all the wonderful memories we shared.
“Anne was always the nicest, most attentive person who always brought out the best in me… My heart is broken.”
“Rest in peace now Anne,” wrote the actor Patricia Arquette on Twitter after news of Heche’s death was confirmed.
“Anne Heche was a tremendously talented actress who endured more horror than anyone else should,” added the respected film historian Mark Harris on Twitter. Harris linked to a 2009 profile of the actor, detailing 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 a “stable” condition after her car crashed into a Los Angeles home on Aug. 5. Firefighters said she spoke to them when she was cut from the wreckage and taken to hospital.
But the actor lost consciousness shortly afterward, and on August 8, representatives posted an update stating that Heche was in an “extremely critical condition” and had fallen 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 a ventilator to determine if her organs could be donated.
An actor of keen intelligence, Heche rose to prominence in the early 1990s, playing twins on the soap opera Another World and having film roles, including the role of Laura in Nicole Holofcener’s feature film debut, Walking and Talking.
Her first major role was as Johnny Depp’s girlfriend in the gangster drama Donnie Brasco (1997). The 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 same 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 was together for three years; Heche spoke of her gratitude to Harrison Ford, who went on to produce the romance Six Days, Seven Nights, despite the homophobic backlash on Heche’s real-life relationship.
In 1998, she starred as Marion Crane in Gus van Sant’s overhaul, shot-by-shot remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho, and over the next decade averaged one film a year, creatively choosing 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 con-comedy Spread. In 2011, she starred in the winning indie comedy Cedar Rapids and co-starred as the ex-wife of corrupt cop Woody Harrelson in Rampart.
Recent major film roles include the mother of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in a 2017 biopic, and as a performer furious opposite Sandra Oh in the critically acclaimed black comedy Catfight from 2016. Benjamin Lee of The Guardian, who reviewed that film, called it “a rare comedy with something to say and a uniquely ambitious structure that extends well beyond the limited budget.
“Both protagonists are excellent, with Heche in particular proving to be a welcome big screen presence, allowed to inhabit more than just a supporting character.”
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 described 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 contracted from same-sex partners. Heche also claimed that her father repeatedly raped her as a child, leading to her developing genital herpes at a young age. Other members of her family disputed the claim.
Three months after their father died, Heche’s brother, Nathan, died in a car accident, which his sister claimed was suicide. Heche became estranged from her mother shortly after.
According to reports, Heche drove to the desert in 2000 and walked a short distance to a stranger’s ranch where she asked to take a shower and then sat down in the living room to watch a movie.
The resident of the house called the local sheriff after Heche showed no sign of leaving; the actor was briefly admitted to a psychiatric ward and admitted to taking ecstasy. In her book, Heche says she was “insane” for the first 31 years of her life because of the abuse she said she had endured at the hands of her father.
Heche promoted the memoir, saying that in the past she would retire to an alter ego for safety: Christ’s half-sister who interacted with alien life forms.
In 2001, Heche married cinematographer Coleman Laffoon, with whom she had Homer. The marriage ended in divorce and in 2009, Heche had another son, Atlas, with James Tupper, her co-star Men in Trees.