Members of the Hollywood community are remembering Anne Heche after she died at age 53, following a fiery car wreck in Los Angeles.
Heche’s rep confirmed her death to PEOPLE on Friday, saying, “Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend,” in a statement on behalf of Heche’s family and friends.
“Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact .”
The family’s rep confirmed to PEOPLE that, while Heche is legally dead according to California law, her heart is still beating and she has not been taken off life support in order to allow OneLegacy Foundation enough time to find recipients who will be a match.
Her eldest son, Homer, also shared a statement with PEOPLE, saying in part, “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom.”
The news came after the Emmy Award winner crashed her blue Mini Cooper into a Los Angeles home on Aug. 5, causing it to catch fire. As a result, the Emmy-winning actress was hospitalized and later confirmed to be in critical condition and in coma, with her rep noting that she had not regained consciousness since the crash.
In the wake of the tragedy, celebrities across Hollywood — many of whom worked with Heche on projects throughout the years — remembered her in touching tributes in statements to PEOPLE and on social media.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Robert DeNiro said of the news: “I’m very sad to hear of the tragic passing of Anne Heche. She was a wonderful actress and I enjoyed working with her tremendously in Wag the Dog. Sad! Sad! Sad!”
Heche’s former Dancing with the Stars partner, Keo Motsepe, shared a parting message to Heche on Instagram. Alongside a broken heart emoji, he wrote: “I love you @anneheche”
He also shared a series of videos on his Instagram Story from their time on the ABC dance competition show. “Love you lady,” he wrote beside one photo of them together in matching yellow attire.
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Garcelle Beauvais also responded to the Instagram post, writing, “So sad”
In her own comment on the Instagram post, DWTS judge Carrie Ann Inaba wrote: “Heart breaking….she was so special. Such a pure & vulnerable free spirit. I’ll always remember her with joy, dancing on #dwts in the [rainbow] costume sharing her story so honestly. That’s why she was such a good actress. She couldn’t help but be honest and open. may she rest and play in peace and joy.”
Inaba, 54, also shared a lengthier post on her own Instagram page. Sharing a photo of Heche with her hand against a window, Inaba wrote, “This was a post by @AnneHeche a while back. I remember seeing it and being so happy for her. She looks at peace with herself and the world around her. She seems hopeful and free.”
“I’ve been thinking of her since her accident last week and like many of you, my heart is heavy” she continued. “Anne was one of the stars on @dancingwiththestars that truly touched my heart. Her personal story was one that reached into my heart and squeezed it. I could feel the pain she felt, and I could also feel her resilient and courageous soul. And it was touching.”
“I had no idea all that she had gone through in this lifetime and I felt a connection to her and the struggles she faced in life. Despite her trials and tribulations, she had a bright light when she came out on that stage to dance, ” she went on. “Every time she performed, there was a sense of complete joy and a celebration of life. It was pure. And it was special.✨❤️”
Inaba said she attempted to connect with Heche “a few times” to appear on her podcast but it never happened and went on to describe how “heartbroken” she was for Heche and “those who love her.”
“It is a tragedy in the fullest sense of the word. Not only for her but for the people who were also hurt and lost things in this incident. Lives are changed forever. In an instant…” she wrote. “I swallow the tears that keep wanting to flow when I think of her in that burning car, wondering what happened right before the accident. It seems from the outside like there was some sort of emotional distress. Pain. Panic. Fear. Frustration. Disorientation. Sadness. I don’t know… none of us do.”
“I just hope she can feel the outpouring of love. And I wish the best outcome for her,” she added. “Anne, I just wanted to say I’m grateful to have the chance to SEE you. You had a great impact on many of us not only with your talent, but also with your free spirit.Thank you for the unique being you are. I’m praying for you. And so are many others. I hope you can feel it.”
On Twitterfilmmaker James Gunn wrote of Heche: “Honest to God, I think maybe the best acting performance I’ve ever seen in my life was Anne Heche in PROOF on Broadway. #RIP”
Fellow filmmaker Ted Geoghegan added of Heche’s impact: “Kids today don’t know what it was like, but I vividly recall when Anne Heche and Ellen Degeneres came out about their relationship back in 1997. I was in awe, and remember thinking, ‘This could really change things for people. ‘ Thank you for so bravely taking that step, Anne. RIP”
In a tweet of her ownRosanna Arquette said she was “very upset and sad” and added, in part, “She still is a great artist and struggled with addiction it’s terribly sad for her children and for her friends.”
Tyler Henry, known for his series Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry, also paid tribute in a tweet. “Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Anne Heche,” he wrote. “Her actions as a result of her addiction don’t make her any less deserving of compassion. She went through extraordinary struggles and shared that vulnerability. Check on your loved ones who struggle with addiction.”
Heche’s ex, James Tupper, shared a photo of the actress hours before her death. “Love you forever,” he captioned the photo, alongside a broken heart emoji. Tupper shares son, Atlas, with Heche.
Food network star, Penny Davidi, later commented on his photo. “Jonathan and I sending our prayers and love to you and your son,” she wrote to Tupper. “Anything you need were [sic] here.”
Kyle Richards, another RHOBH star, shared her condolences with the family as well. “I’m so sorry Thinking of you and both her boys,” Richards commented.
The Real host Loni Love paid tribute to Heche by tweeting a photo of the two from when Heche made an appearance on the daytime talk show, writing “Rest In Peace Anne Heche…”
Jimmy Kimmel Live! writer Louis Virtel wrote in a tweet: “Anne Heche: never ever contrived or copying anybody on the silver screen. Her perturbed, spiky intensity — unforgettable and unmistakable. Many rich performances but if you want to start with an underrated one, check out BIRTH. This news is heartbreaking. ”
Actress Emily Berg shared a lengthy tribute on Facebookin which she spoke about working with Heche for two years on Men in Trees.
“She elicited more curiosity than any other famous person I’ve ever worked with,” Bergl shared, noting that Heche’s work was “impressive, arresting, and dazzling.”
“Anne was not only a genius, but one of the most surprisingly focused and prepared actors I’ve ever worked with. I don’t think I ever saw her miss stepping on her mark once,” Bergl wrote, in part. “Despite a sometimes harrowing life, she was so much fun to be around. She was insouciant, joyous, insightful. It’s a cliche but she really did light up a room.”
“She was a true genius, and I miss her,” Bergl added.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Joey Lawrence’s wife, Samantha Cope — who recently worked with Heche — said, “We don’t have much to say other than, yes, we were so fortunate to bring her onto a project that is very near and dear to our hearts.”
“She was so enjoyable on set, she delivered an incredible performance and spent the whole day bragging about her wonderful sons!” she added. “Our hearts go out to her entire family. She will be greatly missed.”
An hour before Heche died, another one of her exes, Ellen DeGeneres, shared her condolences via social media. “This is a sad day,” DeGeneres tweeted. “I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love. The pair dated from 1997 to 2000.
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Heche’s death tragically comes as she was working on several projects. In June, she wrapped on Lifetime’s Girl in Room 13, set to premiere this fall. She was also expected to star opposite Dermot Mulroney in the upcoming horror-thriller Full Ridehad a recurring role in All Rise on OWN.
Heche recently starred in the Peter Facinelli-directed psychological thriller The Vanished for Netflix and Quiver’s tornado thriller 13 Minutes. Additionally, the actress was working on her podcast, Better Together with Anne & Heatherand writing her second book.
On Friday, Alicia Silverstone shared an emotional message via Instagram about her beloved, late friend. “She was my favorite actress that I have ever worked with,” wrote Silverstone in part. “So present alive sharp passionate compelling complicated an extraordinary scene partner.”
Heche leaves behind two kids: her 13-year-old son Atlas, whom she shares with Tupper, and son Homer, 20, from her marriage to Coley Laffoon.