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Ellen Just Opened Up About Her Former Girlfriend's Death, Elton John's Criticism Of Her, And More

The award-winning talk show host got serious about a number of topics in this interview.

On Sunday, Ellen DeGeneres was on Dax Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert, where she was refreshingly open and candid.


Here are some of the things Ellen opened up about.

On the death of her former girlfriend, who was killed in a car accident:

I was living with her, and when she was killed, I couldn't afford to live where we were living together. So, I moved into this tiny little basement apartment that I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor infested with fleas. I thought, Why is this beautiful, 21-year-old girl gone and fleas are here? And I just thought it would be amazing if we could pick up the phone and call up God and ask questions and actually get an answer.

On loneliness during her early stand-up days:

I was by myself. It's not like I had friends I could afford to put up with me. I wasn't flying private. I was flying commercial all the time and changing planes. I hate flying. I get anxiety when I fly so I couldn't wait to stop touring.

Chris Weeks / Getty

On her show Ellen being canceled after she came out:

[It ended] because I came out. This is a long story, but they really didn't want me to come out. I wanted to come out. I said, "It's my life. I want to come out. I want the character to come out. It's the time." I said, "I'm going to lose the career. Like, you can just put another show on. It's my show to lose." Even though it wasn't my show. They finally let me come out and it was a huge success the night of. It was celebrated...then they just stopped promoting it because they were scared.

And on Elton John's criticism of her during that time:

During the time, because there was so much talk about it, everyone was just sick of it. I had only done the cover of Time magazine, a primetime special with Diane Sawyer and Oprah — those were the only three places I talked — people were reporting on reports and reports. Even Elton John said, "Shut up already. We know you're gay. Be funny." I had never met him and I thought, "What kind of support is that from a gay person?"

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

On being the butt of the jokes:

Everybody assumed I was just nonstop talking about it. It hurt my feelings. I was getting jokes made at my expense on every late-night show. People were making fun of me. I was really depressed. And because of that, and because my show was cancelled, I was looked at as a failure in this business. No one would touch me. I had no agent, no possibility of a job. I had nothing.

And on facing criticism from the LGBT community:

Some people thought, "You're not gay enough and you're not doing enough for our community and there are so many that have done more." I didn't say I was your leader and I didn't say I have done more…I just want to be a comedian and I just happen to be gay. Of course, I'm going to speak up. I think I'm doing a lot just by being a physical presence of hopefully a representation, not of the entire gay community, but of someone at home going, "There's someone who's gay." It was really tough.

Wow, thanks for opening up so much, Ellen! 👏