"I'm not gonna let Instagram comments and Twitter comments tell me who can and can't be my friends," Jerry O'Connell said

By Georgia Slater
August 05, 2020 10:29 AM
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Jerry O'Connell isn't letting the controversy surrounding Ellen DeGeneres and her daytime talk show change his feelings for her as a longtime friend.

On Monday, the Jerry Maguire actor reposted a graphic on Instagram reading "I Stand By Ellen," first shared by DeGeneres' wife Portia de Rossi, writing, "Love Ellen and Portia. Always have. Always will."

In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, the actor revealed why he decided to defend DeGeneres despite her talk show being under investigation in the wake of multiple allegations about the show's workplace culture.

"I've known Ellen and Portia for almost three decades now and I saw that Portia Instagrammed out, 'All of our friends, we need your support right now.' And I felt compelled to [repost] it," O'Connell told the outlet.

While O'Connell, 46, received backlash from some of his followers about his decision to support DeGeneres during this time, he didn't back down.

"I'm not gonna let Instagram comments and Twitter comments tell me who can and can't be my friends," the actor said. "I just wanted Ellen and Portia to know that I love them very much."

Jerry O'Connell, Ellen Degeneres
Michael Loccisano/Getty; Kevin Winter/Getty

The actor made clear, however, that while he supports DeGeneres as a friend, he does not condone the alleged behavior at the show.

"Of course I believe all victims, I believe all stories, and obviously something has to change in that work environment," he explained to the outlet. "But I do love Portia and Ellen. I do. And it's gonna take a lot to change my love for them."

Last week, the talk show host, 62, issued an apology to her staff, acknowledging an alleged "toxic" work environment and promising that she is "committed to ensuring this does not happen again."

Ellen DeGeneres
Brooks Kraft/Getty

The accusations against her daytime show's producers were outlined in BuzzFeed News reports and as her talk show undergoes an internal investigation by WarnerMedia, O'Connell is just one of the many celebrities to show support for DeGeneres on social media.

"I haven’t spoken with @TheEllenShow and can only speak from my own experience. She & her team have only treated me & my team w/ respect & kindness," Ashton Kutcher shared on Tuesday via Twitter. "She never pandered to celebrity which I always saw as a refreshing honesty. When things aren’t right she handles it and fixes."

Longtime television host Jay Leno also joined in, saying he'll remain loyal to DeGeneres, and highlighted her philanthropic endeavors. "I don’t discard a 40-year friendship on hearsay," he wrote on Twitter. "The Ellen I know has raised over $125 million dollars for charity and has always been a kind and decent person. I fully support her. Jay Leno."

Earlier on Tuesday, Katy Perry also defended her friend DeGeneres on Twitter, sending the talk show host "love & a hug."

In mid-July, BuzzFeed News published a report in which previous employees alleged a "toxic work environment" behind the scenes of the daytime talk show. One current and 10 former staffers spoke anonymously about their experiences on set, including claims of being penalized for taking medical leave, instances of racial microaggressions and fear of retribution for raising complaints.

In DeGeneres' apology last week, she addressed the alleged workplace toxicity and  promised to do her "part" in pushing herself and others "to learn and grow."

PEOPLE has confirmed that the comedian will return to host the talk show when it's expected to come back to TV on Wednesday, Sept. 9.