De Rossi, who married Ellen DeGeneres in 2008, is among the final guests on the host’s popular daytime show, which became mired in controversy over allegations of toxic a workplace culture and is set to end later this month.
In a sneak peek of their interview, which was released on Tuesday (3 May), de Rossi recalls coming out to her homophobic grandmother who stopped watching Ellen, the five-season sitcom that turned DeGeneres into a star, after the stand-up comedian came out on TV.
“[My grandmother] was so special to me and she was a huge fan of Ellen. She loved the sitcom, wouldn’t miss an episode... until the episode where she came out,” de Rossi told the studio audience.
“Now, I know I’m gay at this point and I love my gran, and the minute that Ellen came out she refused to watch the show,” she continued, adding: “In fact, if a commercial for her show came on, she would change the channel and say, ‘That disgusting woman.’”
The Arrested Development star said that she returned to Australia, after she moved to Hollywood and began dating DeGeneres, to tell her 99-year-old grandmother about her sexual identity.
“I said ‘Gran, I’m with Ellen.’ And she said ‘Alan? Who’s Alan?’ She’s 99 at this point,” de Rossi explains, after which her grandmother buried her head in her hands for 20 seconds.
“I thought, ‘That’s it, I’ve killed my grandma.’ And she looked at me and said, ‘Well, I love you just the same.’”
DeGeneres later revealed that de Rossi’s grandmother died four years later, with a photograph from hers and de Rossi’s wedding on her bedside table.
It was revealed in May 2021 that DeGeneres’ show would be coming to an end after almost two decades. At the time, the host told The Hollywood Reporter she was wrapping up the show because she needed “something new to challenge” her.
The final episode of the long-running The Ellen Show will air on 26 May 2022.