The Real Reason You Don't Hear From Portia De Rossi Anymore

The following article contains references to eating disorders, sexual harassment, and racism.

Portia de Rossi's relationship with Ellen DeGeneres is a unique one. Despite appearing on the cult classic sitcom "Arrested Development" and a number of movies dating back to the early '90s, de Rossi arguably remains best known as the wife of the chirpy former talk show host. De Rossi, it seems, is all too aware of this. "When I'm out with Ellen, fans come up to us and say, 'Oh, my God, Ellen, you're an angel,'" the Australian native joked during an appearance on her wife's eponymous show, per the Daily Mail. "And then they look at me and go, 'And you're horrible!' It's funny."

Given that she's always been somewhat of a reluctant star via her marriage to one of the most famous talk show hosts in the world, it's understandable that de Rossi has chosen to take a step back from acting. Amid Ellen DeGeneres' ups and downs since her talk show ended, de Rossi has been unwavering in her quiet support of her wife. But just because she's no longer in the limelight, that doesn't mean the star hasn't been keeping super busy. Let's find out the real reason you don't hear from Portia de Rossi anymore.

Portia de Rossi suffered from personal turmoil

By 2010, Portia de Rossi was starting to take a step back from acting. After appearing in "Better Off Ted" from 2009 to its cancellation in 2010, de Rossi released her memoir, "Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain," which details her personal turmoil. De Rossi opened up about her decades-long struggle with anorexia and bulimia, which had a catastrophic effect on her body.

Speaking to Oprah Winfrey upon the memoir's release, de Rossi revealed that her eating disorder began when she was just 12, and got progressively worse once she entered the modeling and entertainment industry. For instance, the actor explained to Winfrey that she felt humiliated after being asked to perform a striptease scene mere episodes into her turn as lawyer Nelle Porter on "Ally McBeal," leading to an aggravation of her illness. "Now this happens on TV — you don't really have control over where your character is heading," she explained. "The only thing I really had control over was how I looked and what I weighed ... I was constantly looking for external validation. 'How was it? How did I look?'"

In addition to her eating disorder, de Rossi opened up about her fear of being outed as gay, having kept her sexuality a secret throughout the filming of "Ally McBeal" until she was outed by a paparazzo. Given these negative experiences in the industry, it's understandable that de Rossi chose to take a step back from the limelight.

Portia de Rossi was in a number of panned TV shows and movies

Portia de Rossi's most recent film and TV projects performed poorly, which may also help to explain the actor's absence from our screens. In 2012, ABC picked up the pilot for de Rossi's show "The Smart One," which saw her in a starring role as a girlboss having to contend with sibling rivalry. However, the series never went beyond the pilot.

On the big screen, she returned to her native Australia to appear in the comedy "Now Add Honey" in 2015. Again, the project was poorly received, with The Sydney Morning Herald branding it a mess. It remains her last movie role to date.

One of de Rossi's only successful projects — outside of the "Arrested Development" reboot — was "Scandal," in which she was cast in 2014 in the recurring role of Elizabeth North. However, her character was killed off in 2017. De Rossi had apparently requested to depart the show to focus on her business ventures. "I am incredibly grateful for my time here at 'Scandal,'" she told Variety. "I will miss playing Elizabeth North but I've made the decision to focus on a business opportunity. Shonda, Betsy and the cast have been incredibly supportive of my decision."

Critics claimed that Portia de Rossi became unrecognizable

Fans were overjoyed when "Arrested Development" was rebooted by Netflix in 2013. Portia de Rossi reprised her role as the self-righteous Lindsay Bluth, but critics claimed the actor looked a far cry from the character fans knew and loved. Many social media users agreed, accusing de Rossi of having a nose job or facelift, thus looking unrecognizable as Lindsay. "Was I the only one who spent the first two minutes of that episode Googling whether that was actually Portia de Rossi playing Lindsay Bluth?" asked one confused fan, per The Daily Beast.

In an interview with TV Guide, series creator Mitch Hurwitz jumped to de Rossi's defense, and argued the change in her appearance was due to a vegan diet and a bad wig. "One of the reasons Portia looked different is because we had to put a wig on her," Hurwitz said. "And it looked bad. I asked, 'Why does this wig look like this?' And the hair person said, 'Oh, it's too small.' Oh for God's sake. I think if I wore a wig I'd look different."

As an actor, upholding a certain image is undoubtedly important to one's longevity; Jennifer Grey, for instance, lost out on work when a nose job ended up drastically altering her appearance to the point of her being unrecognizable. But, as Flavorwire argued, remarks about de Rossi's supposedly modified appearance were a reflection of a sexist and ageist culture rather than the actor herself.

Portia de Rossi retired from acting to focus on her business ventures

Chatting to The Hollywood Reporter in 2017, Portia de Rossi revealed that her decision to retire from acting — and leave "Scandal" — was due to her wanting to embark on a business venture instead. "I found a great business opportunity I wanted to pursue that was taking my interest away from acting and a career I've had for 20-plus years and putting it elsewhere that was very timing consuming," she said.

The business in question was consumer arts company General Public, which seeks to make art more accessible to the masses rather than being the sole preserve of the elites; the company does so by creating 3D art prints of sought-after works. She co-founded the company with her brother, Michael Rogers, who utilized his tech expertise for the venture. As a lifelong art collector and enthusiast, de Rossi felt propelled to co-found the company as she wanted to share her extensive art collection with the public.

In an interview with Nashville Interiors, she discussed her desire to move beyond the narrow perception of her as an actor. "As an actor there are people who only do film and people who only do television or only do commercials," she explained. "There's a million different ways to express yourself using that talent, and as we're seeing with acting and in that media, things are changing."

Portia de Rossi spoke out against sexual harassment in Hollywood

Portia de Rossi has had a number of negative experiences in Hollywood, which may explain her departure from the industry. When the MeToo movement gained momentum in 2017, de Rossi spoke out against rampant sexual harassment in the industry. On X, formerly Twitter, she alleged that Steven Seagal sexually harassed her when she was auditioning for a role in one of his movies. After calling de Rossi into his office for a chemistry test, Seagal allegedly unzipped his pants. "I ran out and called my agent," she wrote. "Unfazed, she replied, 'well, I didn't know if he was your type.'" Ellen DeGeneres voiced her support for de Rossi following the claims, writing on X, "I'm proud of my wife." Seagal did not respond to the claims, but previously denied sexual misconduct allegations.

De Rossi wasn't the only person who accused the action star of sexual impropriety. Julianna Margulies alleged that Seagal asked her to audition alone in his hotel room, where he kept a gun. Lisa Guerrero also alleged that she was invited to a private audition with Seagal, while Rae Dawn Chong accused him of exposing himself in front of her.

Portia de Rossi has never been comfortable in the limelight

Portia de Rossi has always been a reluctant star; she rarely does interviews and was noticeably absent from the infamous New York Times "Arrested Development" cast interview of 2018. During an appearance on "The Ellen Show" that year, de Rossi opened up about her decision to quit acting, acknowledging that she felt uncomfortable doing press and appearing in the limelight. "You know, I was approaching 45 ... I kinda knew what acting would look like for me for the next 10, 20 years," she said.

But following the untimely death of Anne Heche in 2022, de Rossi unwittingly found herself in the spotlight again. A 2021 interview in which Anne Heche gave Portia de Rossi a warning about Ellen DeGeneres resurfaced upon the star's demise. On her "Better Together" podcast, Heche purported that DeGeneres got with de Rossi because she'd always been keen on collecting Porsches. "Portia even asked me about Ellen ... 'You won't be the poster child, girl,'" Heche apparently told de Rossi. "'Because guess what? That poster child has already been taken, and by the way, it wasn't a great spot. But yours ain't gonna be any easier. And I'm telling you now, like, red flag, red flag, red flag!'" Heche did not elaborate on what she meant by "red flags." Neither de Rossi nor DeGeneres responded to the claims.

Portia de Rossi made a brief return to acting in 2018

After quitting acting, Portia de Rossi made a surprise return to "Arrested Development" Season 5 in 2018. As de Rossi explained during her aforementioned appearance on "The Ellen Show," she was emphatic about wanting to leave acting behind for good, but Mitch Hurwitz, creator of the cult sitcom, didn't quite heed her protestations. "I called Mitch Hurwitz, who's the creator of 'Arrested Development,' and I said, 'If there is a Season 5, I won't be doing it because I quit acting,'" she explained. "And he seemed really, like, understanding ... And then he wrote me into five episodes."

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, de Rossi revealed that she made a one-off exception for the "Arrested Development" crew, coming out of retirement to appear on the series. "I have to say I love 'Arrested Development' so much, and if I wasn't a part of this season, I would be so sad," she said. "I'm happy to be a Bluth. Once a Bluth, always a Bluth, I say. So apart from Arrested Development, I have quit acting."

However, her return to acting was not without controversy. Namely, fans were confused by the very obvious green screen that accompanied de Rossi during her scenes as Lindsay Bluth (due to her retirement, she likely filmed scenes separate from the rest of the cast). Since then, de Rossi stayed true to her retirement promise and has had no further acting credits to her name.

Amid bullying accusations, Portia de Rossi stood by Ellen DeGeneres

During its 19-season run, Ellen DeGeneres' show was full of controversial moments, from the host prying into Taylor Swift's love life to DeGeneres trying to force a clearly uncomfortable Mariah Carey to prove she wasn't pregnant. But in 2020, the star's alleged problematic behavior came to the fore when 10 former employees accused her of bullying and creating a toxic work environment.

In an exposé by BuzzFeed News, employees alleged that DeGeneres' "Be kind" mantra was a façade used to hide her apparently problematic persona. Among the bombshell revelations were claims that the host was complicit in the racial abuse of Black employees, as well as the firing of a suicidal employee. "They hire people who maybe are inexperienced with how a functional, nontoxic work environment actually is, or someone who just wants to be in that atmosphere so bad that they'll put up with it," a former employee alleged. "They kind of feed off of that, like, 'This is Ellen; this is as good as it gets. You'll never find anything better than this.'"

After keeping a low profile amid the scandal, Portia de Rossi broke her silence to support her wife. On Instagram, she posted a blue square that read, "I stand by Ellen," along with the "Be kind to one another" slogan that has come to typify DeGeneres' brand. She also alluded to bots supposedly being behind the hostility levied at DeGeneres, via the hashtag "stopbotattacks."

The Ellen DeGeneres scandal had a devastating effect on Portia de Rossi

The bad publicity generated by the Ellen DeGeneres scandal may be another reason why Portia de Rossi has opted to stay out of the public eye. In 2021, DeGeneres broke her silence and sat down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. She revealed that the toxic workplace claims came amid a particularly difficult time in her and De Rossi's lives, the couple having suffered a home robbery and four of their pets dying in quick succession. "It was a tsunami ... it's like a crest of a wave," she said. "Like, 'This isn't going to be that big of a wave.' And then it just keeps getting bigger and bigger until it was out of control. And I really, honestly, felt like, 'I don't deserve this. I don't need this. I know who I am. I'm a good person.'"

During a show for her "Ellen's Last Stand...Up Tour" (via the Independent) in 2024, DeGeneres opened up further about the impact of the accusations, which she said severely affected her relationship with de Rossi. "I'm making jokes about what happened to me, but it was devastating," DeGeneres said. "It took a long time for me to want to do anything again ... [Portia] was watching it happen to me ... she went through it with me," she said.

If you or anyone you know needs help with an eating disorder, may be the victim of sexual assault, or has experienced a hate crime, contact the relevant resources below: