Don’t hit the panic button just yet, but stepping out of the daytime talk show spotlight has crossed Ellen DeGeneres’ mind. In fact, she almost didn’t even extend her current contract through the summer of 2020.
In a forthright interview with The New York Times published on Wednesday, DeGeneres revealed she has considered ending The Ellen DeGeneres Show for quite some time. She may have already left had it not been for advice from loved ones — as mixed as the messages she receives are.
On one side, urging her to stay, is her brother, fellow comedian Vance DeGeneres. On the other, encouraging her to leave, is her wife, Portia de Rossi. And not surprisingly, that constant push and pull can breed tension.
“She gets mad when my brother tells me I can’t stop,” DeGeneres said of de Rossi, who chimed in, “I just think she’s such a brilliant actress and standup that it doesn’t have to be this talk show for her creativity. There are other things she could tackle.”
De Rossi added, “I don’t see the end of her show as her career ending.”
It might be precisely the kind of shift in perspective DeGeneres needs. After 16 seasons of her show, DeGeneres has become inextricably linked to her daytime TV persona by fans. She is often stopped on the street and asked to dance by total strangers.
“There’s been times someone wants a picture, and while I’m doing a selfie, they’re like, ‘You’re not dancing!’” DeGeneres recounted, adding, “Of course I’m not dancing. I’m walking down the street.”
DeGeneres’ disinterest in dancing isn’t indicative of an attitude problem, as persistent tabloid reports claim about her — reports that DeGeneres insists are “an outright lie.” Rather, they’re indicative of a woman who is much more multidimensional than the unfailingly chipper version audiences see on TV every day.
That more dimensional representation of DeGeneres is on full display in her upcoming Netflix stand-up special, Relatable. And to be clear, de Rossi thinks it’s brilliant. “She’s just a bit more complicated than she appears on the show,” de Rossi said of Ellen. “There’s more range of emotion.”
For DeGeneres, it is important for fans to finally see that what you see isn’t all you get.
Of her show, she explained, “It’s escapism for what’s going on, one hour of feeling good. At the core, it’s a comedy show. But if it’s not funny, at least it feels good.” As for the special, though, she elaborated, “I wanted to show all of me. The talk show is me, but I’m also playing a character of a talk-show host. There’s a tiny, tiny bit of difference.”
So, what would a talk show-less DeGeneres look like? It depends on whom you ask. De Rossi feels like her wife would be well-suited for radio or a podcast (yes, please!). But DeGeneres admits she’d love to do another movie and play “someone unappealing.”