LOS ANGELES Anne Heche is not exactly on a career comeback because even during her dark days, she worked. But recent roles on TV show "Hung" and in new movie "Cedar Rapids" have some people thinking her once bright star may be on the rise again.
Even Heche thinks so.
"I sometimes wake up and pinch myself and ask, 'is it really true people are starting to see me in a new way? Can I possibly say I'm in the middle of a new boom in my career?'" she told Reuters. "I do feel like it's a moment of blessing, to be embraced for my art and my work."
Not long ago, the view of Heche was different. She even wrote about her troubles and her road to recovery in her 2001 memoir, "Call Me Crazy." But if strong reviews for "Cedar Rapids" hold up after it opens on Friday and if fans turn out in solid numbers at box offices, Heche, at age 41, may be writing a new title on a second edition: "Don't Call Me Crazy, Anymore."
Comedy "Cedar Rapids," which tells of naive, small-town insurance man Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) on a trip to a convention in the big city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, enjoyed a solid premiere at January's Sundance Film Festival and is getting good reviews.
Veteran critic Roger Ebert called it "a sweet comedy with a dirty mind" and writing in Entertainment Weekly magazine, Lisa Schwarzbaum says "within the structure of a conventional, well-built comedy...is something truly original."
The story centers on Helms' character, Tim Lippe, and whether his wholesomeness will be corrupted by the drinking, debauchery and dirty deeds that go down in Cedar Rapids. But the supporting cast, including John C. Reilly, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., and Heche, provide a touch of reality to the movie.
"FUNNY, FAST, QUIRKY"
Heche's character, saleswoman Joan Ostrowski-Fox, is an unabashed philanderer -- only once a year at the convention -- in a twist on the typical skirt-chasing male conventioneer.
But Joan is much more. She's smart, independent and doesn't take crap from her male colleagues. She's also funny, and for people who knew Heche in her rising star days of the 1990s from movies like action romance "Six Days Seven Nights" or political drama "Wag the Dog", Heche has comic timing that is on target.
"She's funny, fast, quirky, and she really has rhythm," "Cedar Rapids" director Miguel Arteta told Reuters.
Heche said that her book's title, "Call Me Crazy," was in her mind a stab at irony because she considered herself quite sane at the time after months of therapy.
Her troubles are well-documented and include being a victim of sexual abuse as a girl. She battled an alternate personality disorder, and her affair in the late 1990s with Ellen DeGeneres earned her scorn from some who thought she was in it for the publicity. In fact, it hurt her career as a leading lady in movies.
After the affair with Ellen, Heche got married, then divorced. She is now in a stable relationship with two children, and can laugh about her past.
Heche is somewhat surprised people see her as a dramatic actress because, she said, she always considered herself "a bit of a comedian." But she understands that her early film and TV roles (she was on daytime drama "Another World") gave rise to the perception of her as a dramatic actress.
Viewpoints change, however, and Heche's career seemed to revive in 2006 with her casting in a relatively short-lived TV show called "Men in Trees." Then came HBO series "Hung" in 2009, which has been a big hit with critics.
So now, when asked how things are going in her life, Heche is quick with the answer: "I love my life," she said.
And when talk turns to her future, there is but one word Heche uses to describe her own outlook: "Blockbuster!"
(Editing by Jill Serjeant)