Ellen DeGeneres is considering leaving her show, in part at the urging of wife Portia de Rossi, and because she is tired of playing nice and feeling pigeonholed by the part she plays on daytime TV.
The host and comedian sat down with a reporter from The New York Times ahead of her first stand-up special in 15 years, Relatable, hitting Netflix on December 18, and it’s clear she has a lot on her mind.
For one, she’s tired of everyone expecting her to be the gregarious, dancing, always smiling Ellen they know and love from her show, a theme she touches on in her special as well.
“There’s been times someone wants a picture, and while I’m doing a selfie, they’re like: ’You’re not dancing!,'” she said. “Of course I’m not dancing. I’m walking down the street.”
DeGeneres, who has pulled in a staggering $87.5 million this year alone, according to Forbes, is being given conflicting advice from two of her biggest confidants: de Rossi on the one side, and her brother, fellow comedian Vance DeGeneres, on the other, who is encouraging her to stay on as America’s favorite daytime talk show host.
Still, even he understands why, after 16 years, she wishes to “break out of, not a rut, but a mold,” as he put it.
As for DeGeneres, she said she has changed her mind on what direction she will take more than once.
“Being trapped in the world of being asked to dance and expected to be nice, it’s real,” said friend Tig Notaro, who co-directed Relatable, alongside Joel Gallen. “I’m sure there’s people who think she’s kidding. Or can’t have a bad day. But she does. It’s an interesting pickle she’s in.”
And while she said she has stopped reading her own press, she is aware of the rumors: That she and de Rossi are on the rocks and could breakup any day, and that she is a tyrant to her staff, which she calls “an outright lie.”
Whether or not she is staying on for the long-haul remains an open question, but she did recently take the option to extend her contract to the summer of 2020. Her brother thinks she is needed now more than ever in the age of Trump.
But de Rossi remains unmoved.
“I just think she’s such a brilliant actress and standup that it doesn’t have to be this talk show for her creativity,” she said. “There are other things she could tackle.”