Actress Laura Dern recently described her participation in Ellen DeGeneres' coming out story as “an incredible honor.”

The 52-year-old Dern played Susan, a lesbian, on the 1997 Ellen episode “The Puppy Episode.” Thirty-six million people watched the episode.

In the episode, DeGeneres' character came out gay. The revelation coincided with DeGeneres' own coming out on the cover of PEOPLE magazine.

Speaking with Vulture, Dern said that she was warned not to take the role.

“Greatest thing I could’ve ever been part of, honestly. An incredible honor. [DeGeneres] was a big fan of Citizen Ruth, and she asked me, would I come join this effort?” Dern said. “I was excited. I didn’t think twice about it. It was a great opportunity. And then the calls started coming in once I’d said yes, from a couple of advisers in Hollywood who were out gay men, [telling me] to not do it. A lot of people in my life really worried. And I was like, 'This is ridiculous.' This is where I grew up in a bubble and didn’t realize we weren’t there yet or something. The first time I became aware was, Oprah [Winfrey] and I were having a snack, and suddenly a flood of cops swarmed the set and the stage while we were rehearsing. They’re like, 'There’s been a bomb threat, we’re sweeping the stage.' And they start literally rushing us off the stage.”

“We only did it for what, ten days? We all spent the next couple of years really struggling in work and safety. It was radical to experience that. It was the only time I ever experienced having to have to have full security detail.”

“But what was amazing, which I will never forget, that when she looked in my eyes, she said it was the first time she said 'I’m gay' out loud. We didn’t rehearse it, so when she said it to me, and was looking in my eyes and holding my hands and I felt her shaking … the gift – it makes me want to cry – the gift of that, the intimacy of what that means, was such insight for me.”

Dern added that her career stopped for a year after she played the role.

“It [was a significant dry spell] because I was doing successful independent movies, and, only months before that, I was in Jurassic Park, the most successful movie ever. So it was like, you’re being offered this, you’re being offered that – and it just stopped. Which is kind of wild,” Dern said.