Katherine Heigl on the State of Her Reputation: 'I Don't See Myself as Being Difficult'

Katherine Heigl Difficult

Katherine Heigl says it never has been — nor is it — her intention to be a difficult actress to work with, despite years’ worth of rumors that have dogged her since she famously parted ways with Grey’s Anatomy.

Asked to account for if not defend her reputation, Heigl said Sunday at the Television Critics Assoc. summer press tour, “I certainly don’t see myself as being difficult. I would never intend to be difficult…. I think it’s important for everyone to conduct themselves professionally and kindly. If I ever disappointed somebody, it was never intentional.”

RELATED Fall TV First Impression: NBC’s State of Affairs

Heigl was appearing at TCA to promote State of Affairs, NBC’s new D.C.-set drama in which she stars as a CIA analyst with close professional/personal ties to the President of the United States (played by Alfre Woodard). Heigl said she finds it “really compelling” to portray an “intelligent woman” and “real patriot” who, by crafting and delivering the daily briefing to POTUS, helps the leader of the free world do her job.

Fretting that she had ceased flexing certain acting muscles during her run of big-screen rom-coms, State of Affairs, she said, presents “an extraordinary role and an extraordinary story, and it’s an opportunity for me to … show different sides of myself as an actor, performer and storyteller.”

VIDEO Grey’s Anatomy Boss Breaks Silence on Katherine Heigl Kerfuffle: ‘It Stung’

Recapping her previous headline-making as a TV star: As a Grey’s cast member, Heigl decided in June 2008 to remove her name from Emmy consideration because she did not feel she was “given the material to warrant a nomination.” (She ultimately offered a mea culpa for that, telling Michael Ausiello, “I ambushed [the writers], and it wasn’t very nice or fair.”) A year-and-a-half after said outburst, the actress’ Grey’s run abruptly ended after she allegedly pulled a no-show at the set, prompting her and Shonda Rhimes to agree on an early contract release.

Heigl then segued into movies. Following the aforementioned run of romantic comedies and leading up to her return to TV via State of Affairs, Heigl explained, “I took a couple of years to be with my family, my new daughter… I needed that time, to be a mom, to be a wife… and really revel in that, and remember what it is I feel so passionate about in this industry.”

In 2012, Heigl floated the possibility of returning to Grey’s as Izzie. “If they want me to return for an arc, I would love to know where Izzie is now,” she told TVLine. “It’s been a couple of years. I really hope she’s succeeding somewhere.”

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84 Comments
  1. Chad Smith says:

    She said all that with a straight face? Damn, she may be a better actress than I thought.

  2. Tori says:

    She needs to stop acting so innocent. That many rumors don’t just surface out of thin air. Own up to it, girl.

    • dude says:

      Yeah, I mean I read stories about girls getting possessed by the devil, hillbillies getting abducted by aliens, and the looming zombie apocalypse all the time. It’s pretty much common knowledge that once a subject on the internet reaches a certain quota of stories, it just has to be true.

    • Temperance says:

      Or, more likely, she’s telling you the truth, and the hubub was fabricated to sell papers. In fact, if you look at what ACTUALLY happened or what was ACTUALLY said, she’s 100% correct.

  3. Andy P says:

    She didn’t no-show. That is completely untrue. It is no wonder her reputation takes hits – most of the stuff about her is just inaccurate and not to mention why are you brining up stuff from 6 or 7 years ago. Why is Heigl the only person it seems who has to constantly revisit this again and again and again and again. She apologized already for ONE misplaced comment. What more do you want her to do? She can’t undo it. Move on already. Sheesh.

    • Ed says:

      THIS. Katherine always has to defend herself for that. IW was welcomed back after his outburst which was 1000x worse than what KH said. In the end I feel that KH will return to Grey’s before the series finale even for a 1 of like IW

    • ... says:

      It’s not one comment when it’s the Grey’s Emmy thing, the Knocked Up sexism comment, everything that Shonda has inferred post-Heigl, etc. And she’s getting questions about it because she’s been stuck in the rom-com doldrums for years and this is her return to television after a highly publicized stint on Grey’s. Not that hard to figure out.

      • dude says:

        Sorry, you’re right. It’s not one comment from eight years ago, it’s THREE comments from eight years ago. That’s totally different. Name one thing she’s said or done in the last three years and we can talk.

    • anna says:

      Because she’s a woman. No male actor in this industry would ever be hounded about being “difficult” the way she is.

    • Antwon says:

      Actually, she was due back on set March 1 after a 3 month vacation and she called up Shonda shortly BEFORE her return date to express again that she wanted to leave. So you see she broke an agreement to return to work and stories had to be changed because prior to that KH agreed to finish out the season after her vacation and she went back on her word.

      You don’t just suddenly get a reputation for being difficult. This stuff has been out about her since her days on Roswell. If it walks like a duck and quacks….it’s a duck.

  4. spindae2 says:

    Really hate the way she exited Grey’s ! Would really see her comeback for a couple of eps.

    • Patrick says:

      I am sure Shonda would be willing to write an arc about Izzy’s life being in shambles and her begging Alex to take her back and that he was the love of her life, only for Alex to walk away and leave Izzy to basically collapse back into a complete wreck of a life.

      Heigl probably has an arc in mind wherein she is doing great, stops in to see the old gang, and is diagnosed with some horrible ailment. Alex treats her horribly, despite her being really sweet towards him. As she lays dying, Alex breaks down and confesses his eternal love for her, wherein she releases him to find new love. She either has a great death scene, or recovers to return to her fabulous life, never to think of him again.

      Basically, she won’t come back unless she would look good, and Shonda isn’t playing that game.

      Isaiah said a horrible and unforgiveable slur. That said, it was patently obvious prior to the incident that IW was Shonda’s favorite actor, or that his character was her favorite. And that George and Izzy (or rather, their portrayers) were not being good employees. George was constantly late and unprepared, and Izzy was being a diva on set. Shonda waited an appropriate time to take her revenge, but she got it. George was continuously marginalized, and Izzy’s story lines got more and more ridiculous. And they both disappeared from the industry. If this show isn’t a hit, Heigl will be doing TV movies soon, and out of the business once her looks fade, cause no one hires marginally talented, un attractive, unpleasant actresses.

      • Erin says:

        C’mon, marginally talented is a little unfair. Heigel’s good when the material is i.e. season two of Grey’s Anatomy. Didn’t win that Emmy for nothing.

      • Tasha says:

        Shonda completely disrespected T.R Knight, Isaiah slur was unprofessional, homophobic and cruel you can’t blame him for feeling hurt and uncomfortable especially since he shouted it at him. Shonda wanted to sweep the comment under the rug and not do anything about it so he could stay on the show. It took longer than it should to sort it out. I’m sorry but behaviour like Shonda’s and Isaiah’s is ten times worse than a bit on diva behaviour. And the reason why T.I Knight left wasn’t because he wasn’t a good employee it was because he got 10 times less screen time than the rest of the cast, even though he was a main character and he wasn’t included in season 5 as much previous seasons. I think I’d be a little mad at that. And KH made a great point about the Emmy award maybe she shouldn’t have expressed it the way she did but Izzie’s story line in season 4 was not good at all and didn’t feel like something Izzie would have done. But everyone is entitled to their opinion.Grey’s won’t be the same now that so many of the best characters have left, and many of the actors playing them didn’t have good things to say about the show but it seems like only KH is the one to get so much hate for it.

        • Sara says:

          No one except Katherine Heigl has spoken poorly about the show. Even TR Knight has had enough professional respect to pretty much keep to himself about whatever went down. Every other major actor to leave has spoken nothing but praise on the show and the showrunners.

          • abz says:

            Other cast members have made negative comments about the show. Patrick Dempsey publicly criticized the musical episode (regardless of the viewers’ opinions of it) that Shonda admitted she had always wanted to do since starting the show. If you google it, you’ll see his comments about how he thought the episode was a big mistake and how things sometimes don’t work out that well. But of course, few remember his comment

  5. Lana says:

    OMG, a woman who speaks her mind and stands up for herself! Let’s forever label her as ‘difficult to work with’.

    • ... says:

      So, are female actors exempt from criticism w/r/t their professionalism and how they handle themselves within the confines of a project?

      • Brooke says:

        Show me all the hated Christian Bale gets for his well-documented outbursts on set.

        • Ashley says:

          You just called the outbursts well-documented, which means there are people out there talking about it and most of those comments–I’ve seen several and I don’t even follow Bale–are not favorable. He makes the same Difficult to Work With lists as she does. He does, however, have the good fortune of being more talented and therefore more likely to get a pass on somethings.

          • Brooke says:

            It’s intellectually dishonest to pretend he gets even half the continued, intense hatred that Heigl gets.

          • Patrick says:

            Bale makes quality films, or at least does quality work in films. That are successful. No one would be talking about Heigl if she hadn’t been in horrible failures. H-Wood doesn’t care about your character, so long as you are in successful projects. Start failing, and the knives come out.

        • Sara says:

          The difference with Christian Bale is that he also does some really good will type things to offset his bad behavior. For example, after the Colorado shootings during the premiere of the last Batman film, Bale skipped out on press events to visit the hospital and the victims. That kind of stuff goes a long way to making the public forgive certain behaviors.

          Also, his outbursts on set were just those: outbursts on set. Not trash talking writers, directors, and producers intentionally in the press.

          • Brooke says:

            Give me a break. One of Heigl’s supposed “bad behaviors” was sticking up for her gay friend who was called a gay slur. Another one was complaining about tired sexist tropes being used for humor. She wasn’t exactly threatening people with verbal abuse.

          • Sara says:

            Well, I didn’t mention the various accounts of both her and her mother being increasingly difficult on sets and on press tours. No one said a “bad behavior” was sticking up for her gay friend. That is pushing it and grasping at straws. And if she was so against sexist tropes being used for humor, she and her mother shouldn’t have signed her up to do The Ugly Truth after making the comments about Knocked Up. That is FAR worse than Knocked Up.

          • S. says:

            Preach, Sara. How much are these people getting paid to defend her? Or are they just blindly supporting her because she’s a woman and they’re convinced criticism about female actresses just can’t be justified? Maybe they’re really big fans of PS. I Love You? At any rate, her mother’s a momager and apparently Heigl’s big albatross. If she got her out of her professional life, Heigl would probably be able to get rid of the “difficult” label after awhile. She listens to dear old mama who clashes with people Heigl works with and it leads to drama.

    • Nikki says:

      This has nothing to do with gender. She’s been known, despite what she says, to be difficult. Because she’s a woman she can’t have anything negative said against her, even though she acts negatively?

    • Ashley says:

      How is badmouthing something that she was a willing participant in standing up for herself? It is speaking her mind, yes, but that also applies to all the people who call her difficult to work with. Double standards? You have ‘em.

  6. I’ve never been a huge fan of her work, but she’s always seemed nice and professional. I certainly don’t think she’s deserved the level of vitriol I’ve seen directed towards her over the years. I don’t doubt there was drama on the Grey’s set, but that always seems to happen to long running shows. Her new show looks interesting, and I’ll definitely check out the pilot.

  7. Anon432 says:

    Heigl is an idiot. She treats cast/crew members on her TV shows and movies like Trash and people in the industry talk about it openly.

    Heigl should own up to her behavior and stop pretending like she is the victim of some smear campaign. The lack of awareness only hurts her more and she’ll look even more foolish when SOA implodes based on current on-set problems.

    For the people defending her, it is not about being outspoken. There are a lot of outspoken actors/actresses who still manage to be decent human beings.

    • Melora says:

      Yeah. You should hear the things I heard when she was on Roswell

      • kajar says:

        Really Melora? Scandalmongering is the lowest form of discourse. Get a new hobby.

        • S. says:

          Apparently you think nobody’s allowed to say anything bad about anybody, kajar. Maybe Heigl should’ve thought about what she did before she did it. People talk and it’s come back to bite her in the arse. Melora can say whatever she darn well pleases. Meanwhile you can return to your perch from which you can proclaim what is or isn’t allowed to be praiseworthy posting according to your lofty standards. We are oh so lucky to have kajar to tell us what we should be proud to talk about on the internet, you guys.

          • kajar says:

            Yes, as a matter of fact, I think muckraking and spreading malicious gossip based on hearsay to be below anyone. If that makes my standards “lofty” then so be it. And thank you for your kind permission, I think I will return to my “perch” as you put it. It is much preferable to the gutter of unrelenting negativity to which the majority these days seems to aspire. Cheers.

  8. ... says:

    This tells me that we’re in for some type of incident between her and the creatives behind State of Affairs. She could have very easily said that she’s made some mistakes in her career and that she’s looking at this show as an opportunity to do things better; every single actor out there has made some mistakes, so she would’ve been able to look good for the press while not really taking responsibility for the things she’s done/said. Plus, every actor has made some mistakes in their past, not just the ones with big press blow ups, and admitting that she wanted to do things differently/better would’ve been a nice way to start a new project.

    However, if she’s going to deflect like this, she doesn’t think she did anything wrong and that lack of self-awareness isn’t promising; thus, I don’t think she’s made enough progress as a person to avoid things like the Grey’s incident, the Knocked Up incident, etc.

  9. Tran says:

    I’ll watch State of Affairs come November 17th but if it doesn’t become a hit for NBC, either Castle or maybe NCIS: L.A. should do just fine in the 10 p.m. Monday night time slot. Still getting a lot of “mixed reactions” from people whether it’s the series or Katherine Heigl’s return to prime time TV or both but I don’t care what viewers would think about it.

  10. Brooke says:

    Everyone needs to just STAHP with the vitriol toward Heigl. Violent men get less hate than she does, just see the recent articles about Columbus Short where everyone is bending over backward to wish him well after he threatened his wife’s life. Good grief.

  11. Melora says:

    I know people who worked on the set of Roswell. She was difficult to work with then

  12. Tracy says:

    She can’t be all that difficult or she would not have ongoing friendships with people she worked with a decade+ ago. The media keeps asking the Grey’s question for one simple reason – the post an article with her response and get hits to their site.

  13. The letter J says:

    Is she delusional or just self centered?

  14. abz says:

    So many saints here acting like they’ve never said something before or acted in a way that they wish they could take back. The vitriol against this woman is just insane. She’s a talented actress who pretty much made the early seasons of Grey’s Anatomy the success it was IMO and she made a few poor decisions with comments she made YEARS AGO!!! But as usual the media takes everything and spins it out of control. It’s been how many years since the comments were made? Get over it. We all make mistakes, except not all our mistakes are broadcasted worldwide for the public to know and criticize us endlessly for them. I have been a fan of KH’s for quite a while and hope this show does well because aside from Sandra Oh, she was my favourite part of Grey’s Anatomy and the show would have been nothing without her.

    • kajar says:

      Yeah, I’m not really a big fan of Ms. Heigl, though I think she is a decent enough actress, and even I think the backlash directed her way is ridiculous, considering her supposed “crime” was/is extremely tame compared to a plethora of other celebrity shenanigans which could be named.

  15. tahina says:

    She will always be Izzie for me.

  16. Kae says:

    Things has been said about her as far back as her Roswell days. Causing trouble on set , her mother treating people like trash etc. The thing with Greys, Knocked Up didn’t help either. I don’t have a problem with her speaking her mind but when you come off like your the greatest actress to walk this earth…and clearly you aren’t you need to tone down the attitude a little.

  17. SJ says:

    Oh my god, she’s doing it again. “Nice to be flexing the kinds of acting muscles she didn’t get to on rom-coms”? “Needed time to feel passionate about the industry again”?

    She’s – admittedly, very subtly and backhandedly – bashing the very movies that helped her remain relevant – for however brief a time – after her stint on Grey’s. She’s just a nasty person. I won’t be watching any of her future projects.

    • kajar says:

      Hogwash. Your twisting her words to rationalize your own irrational behavior.

    • abz says:

      Do you know how to read properly? A lot of the rom-com roles she took on were very similar and she merely said that television and SoA itself will give her the opportunity to branch out and flex her acting chops again. You are twisting the words around to satisfy your dislike for her.

  18. Linderellabelle says:

    I for one am glad Katherine will be back on TV. Izzy was my favorite character on Grey’s from day 1 and she has been missed. Best wishes to her for great success.

  19. Brooke says:

    Ooh, another example in the “male actors just don’t get this same backlash” game: Recently Michael C Hall came out and insulted the writers for the final episode of Dexter. He was at least as harsh as Heigl was when discussing her reason for not submitting for an Emmy for Grey’s, if not more. And no one is screaming “DIFFICULT!” and they certainly will not be boycotting his next show.

    • abz says:

      THIS!! Just last week Joe Mangianello discussed his unhappiness with the writing for his role in True Blood and essentially that his character had no purpose last season. I HIGHLY doubt 6 or 7 years from now that interview will even be remembered.

    • CK says:

      This so much. Two words. Matthew Goode. Everyone loves him as Finn Palmar on The Good Wife, but in interviews, he makes any of Heigl’s critiques look like praise, but he’s not “difficult” according to most tv media coverage.

    • S. says:

      Please. When the public all seems to agree with an actor that the writing on their show was garbage, and that show is now off the air, nobody’s gonna declare an actor’s “difficult.” It’d be like one of the HIMYM actors saying they hated the finale. Well, you speakest the truth, hypothetical HIMYM actor.

      • Katherine215 says:

        Come on, she was absolutely right about the terrible storyline she had on Grey’s that season. Izzie/George was a snoozefest. Dead Denny Sex was even more ridiculous. I could barely watch that season, so she was right to say it was crappy writing. It was.

        • Sara says:

          The George/Izzie storyline was pushed by the actors playing George and Izzie. That is one of the things that makes her comments so hypocritical. She pushed a bad storyline and then whined about the writers not giving her good material, when really they gave her exactly what she wanted.

        • Brooke says:

          Don’t forget the gem that started it all – Izzie saves a deer! P

  20. CK says:

    I hate to pull this card, but the only thing Katherine is guilty of is being a difficult woman. The stories about her seemed tamed compared to the epic hissy fits thrown by Christian Bale or Sean Penn. Heck, if Katherine pulled a Nathan Fillion and didn’t show up to set due to a contract negotiations, the tvline comment section would burn her at the stake and her career would be over. I’m not saying she gets a pass for having a ‘Momager” or being difficult. Not at all. However, I do think the coverage is a bit slanted. I don’t see articles questioning Charlie Sheen’s professional/personal behavior on tvline and that’s not because he has gone quiet. Instead, it’s basically the same retread of “Katherine Heigl is a word that rhymes with witch and here’s why?” Heck, even the NBC exec article was baited to reference her personal/professional affairs.

    • S. says:

      You needn’t pull that card because it’s unnecessary. She’s not a “difficult woman,” she’s difficult, full stop. Christian Bale’s drama was against a guy who legitimately screwed around during a take and frankly someone should’ve torn that guy a new one, just not Bale. Heigl bad mouthed 2 bosses and projects which were her most popular and financially successful. Nobody wants to work with a person who’s gonna run you down in public later. Where has Bale gone around doing that? Plus he still makes them money. She bad mouthed people, didn’t make money on her latest stuff, and has apparently decided she can just tell people she’ll come to work and then pull the carpet out from under them if she decides she’d rather stay home. Take the hiatus honestly and openly. Don’t test everybody’s patience when they’re already thinking it’d be easier without you.

  21. Bjohns says:

    No thank you. We don’t need an update. Alex and Meredith can email you. LOL

  22. Bjohns says:

    IMO I think she just believed that after coming back to work after she would be the next Sandra Bullock (Americas sweetheart). Difficult has followed her and her mom since Roswell. She did this puff piece to get us interested and possibly check out the show that her and her mom are executive producers on. I mean I’m sorry, I watch Scandal so I have my presidential life fill for the season. Maybe non Scandal fans will watch?

  23. Kristina says:

    These rumors have followed her since Roswell. I don’t know what’s true and what’s not, but I hope her new show is successful and drama-free.

  24. scotlore says:

    What do you expect from this actress? She lacks self-awareness. Always has. She believes what her reflection in the mirror tells her. That’s it.

  25. dee123 says:

    Good lord some people around here are naive. She’d had these things spoken about since her Roswell days. Where’s there’s smoke there’s fire.

  26. Alicia says:

    It’s not about being a woman, it’s about being a horrible person. A horrible person bashes the hand from which they’ve been feed, complains, treats people like vermin. A man can do it, a woman can do it. Anyone can be a “difficult” person. She’s just a horrible person with no decency for those who apparently orbit “her” world.

  27. Liberals Steal says:

    It still amazes me how Shonda Rhimes was able to manipulate this situation, even after all of these years.

    Yes, I am sure Katherine Heigl is very difficult. I am sure she is a diva, and while somewhat talented, not good enough to warrant the kind of behavior she displays on set.

    That being said, producers and writers are the same way. See Kurt Sutter, Joss Whedon, Ryan Murphy and Chuck Lorre anytime you criticize their work, or try to suggest a creative change.

    Getting that out of the way, I still don’t see what was wrong with her 2008 comment. She did the honorable thing and bowed out of a race she felt she should not be in. Why can an actress not critique the writing (as well as her own acting, which she was doing too, something people forget) when all of us can? If the material wasn’t there, good for her for allowing another actress to get the thrill of an Emmy nomination.

    Let’s also count how many other actors have left Grey’s Anatomy over the years. Whatever excuses they may have given the public, I am sure at minimum 25% and at most 100% of the reason was some combination of Shonda’s attitude and/or creative direction.

    Shonda Rhimes is an egomaniac who has made a lot of money creating a lot of mediocre television.

    • Why is Shonda to blame for what Heigl did to herself? Sure, shonda is not an angel but blaming Shonda for Heigl’s actions seemed unfair!!

      • Liberals Steal says:

        Because she purposely derailed her career by doing so. On-screen her character was butchered beyond repair, and in public Shonda took every chance to fire back at Heigl. A professional would have said, “I respect her opinion, but have to disagree with what she said,” and moved on.

        • Heigl “blackballed” herself from the work she wanted to do by not keeping her quiet about and shonda didn’t have to do anything since shonda does not think enough of heigl to ruin her career or has enough power to ruin her career if she wanted to. Izzie was not ruined because she ruined George’s marriage or the fact izzie has cancer was shonda way of appeasing Heigl and give her material that Heigl can be proud of but somehow that was not enough so Shonda has to write her off to take a role for her movie came up with IZZIE walking away from ALEX to allow Heigl to leave the show for awhile and shonda has every intention to get them back together but then Heigl wanted out so what was shonda supposed to do about that? She released HEIGL and moved on. Just because shonda “behaved” badly toward HEIGL, that does not mean shonda purposely derailed Heigl’s career since Shonda would not waste her time on someone who wasn’t grateful for what she has and would not take ownership for the mistakes she makes and try to do better and she has not and Shonda has nothing to do with HEIGL’s lack of a career after she left Grey’s.

    • Sara says:

      If the material wasn’t there, she wouldn’t have been nominated anyway. The automatic assumption that she would have been nominated had she not bowed out is ridiculous, but that’s probably exactly what she was hoping would be in people’s minds when she made the comments.

      • Brooke says:

        The Emmys have a HUGE reputation for nominating past winners again even when their current seasons are not as good as the ones they won for! That’s absolutely something they do every year, which is what leads to endless eye-rolling about “Does that person really need to be nominated this year?” It’s ridiculous to pretend that wouldn’t happen with her. And she didn’t hold a press conference about it, she was asked about it in an interview and she answered the question.

  28. Deion says:

    My issue with this new show isn’t Katherine Heigl’s reputation. She got a big head and left a show she was on. That happens. She’s made some half-hearted apologies to fans, but what if she forgets about the fans again? Let’s say this show is a smash hit? Does it end one day because she wants to foray into movies again? Does she back out of contract negotiations because she doesn’t WANT to do it anymore? She’s burned me once, pulling out of a great character before her story was finished. Do I trust her again?

  29. I loved the early Izzie Stevens… funny, vulnerable, sexy and big hearted when Alex needed her. Then she got too big for her SPANX and turned Diva while still on Shonda’s payroll, where the ensemble cast relied on her to pull her weight w/o off-screen drama. She screwed up, tra-laaaed off to Hollywood and ultimately became toxic to producers. Until she learns to STOP BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS HER, both in the front office and with loyal fans, she can stay home and play bored housewife of B-movies.

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