Johnathon Schaech On Being Ellen’s ’90s Beard, Why He Was Fired From Her Coming Out Episode

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You may know actor Johnathon Schaech (pronounced Shek, like you’re saying Shrek with a speech impediment) from his memorable roles over the years, like the snot-nosed singer who blows it with Liv Tyler in That Thing You Do!, to his more recent arch as eccentric movie star Sean Walker on Showtime’s Ray Donovan.

These days, Schaech plays Jonah Hex on the CW’s Legends Of Tomorrow, a DC comics smashup that joins the Arrow and Flash lineup.

But during a recent Reddit AMA, it was Schaech’s love life that dominated the public’s interest. And while he had a lot to say about his famous musical exes Christina Applegate and country singer Jana Kramer, it was a little question about his ’90s-era red carpet appearances with a then-closeted Ellen Degeneres that caught our eye.

A fan asked:

Is it true that you dated Ellen DeGeneres? I saw that online one time that someone said you had dated and didn’t believe it, but when I googled you and Ellen, pictures came up! Were you just friends?

To which Schaech responded:

My manager asked me to accompany her to events. She was scared people would not watch the show, Her sitcom Ellen, because she was gay. It was an honor. I grew up with two gay aunts and a gay uncle. My Aunt died of cancer. She was a proud woman and she didn’t get proper care because she didn’t want to be away from her partner. Hospitals didn’t allow partners the same rights as a spouse. When you have someone you love in your life that is gay or a lesbian it’s very clear that they deserve the same rights as anyone else. It’s not about religion. If you don’t love ELLEN now — you don’t watch her show. She’s a great example for the human race.

Well there’s a little hyperbole with your coffee, especially with all the backstage horror stories we’ve heard from people who work with her.

But just to clarify, the fan asked this followup:

So, you were Ellen’s beard?? or was she already out? That is so cool. So kind of you to do that!

And without really clarifying much, Schaech continued:

She wasn’t out…I was suppose to perform in her coming out episode but I ran the marathon and couldn’t walk the next day, the netowrk fired me cause they thought I was lame. I was lame, DONT RUN A MARATHON when your [sic] given a great gift.

There you have it, folks — words to truly live by: Don’t run a marathon when you’re given a great gift.