DeGeneres, 49, made pop-culture history in 1997 by coming out of the closet in real life while her sitcom character did likewise. In her character's coming-out episode, Dern shared a smooch with the comedian during a guest stint on the ABC series as a lesbian love interest.
Dern, 40, recounted Monday how she could not get an acting job for more than a year afterward. "There was certainly backlash, I guess, (that) we all felt from it," she told DeGeneres, who said she was sorry and "had no idea" that Dern was snubbed in Hollywood.
Not getting work felt "awfully terrifying," recalled Dern, who said she is grateful for the "extraordinary experience and opportunity" to be a part of the groundbreaking episode, which also guest starred Oprah Winfrey, Demi Moore and Melissa Etheridge.