Grey's Anatomy's Ellen Pompeo Calls Katherine Heigl a 'Hero' For Her Past Critique of Long Work Hours

File this under “It’s never too late to say something nice”: Ellen Pompeo is commending her former Grey’s Anatomy co-star, Katherine Heigl, for speaking up about working conditions in the early-ish days of their ABC medical drama.

In a conversation with another co-star, Kate Walsh, on the April 20 episode of her Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo podcast, Pompeo recalled when Heigl went on a talk show and commented publicly about the “insane hours we were working.”

Pompeo continued: “Had she said that today, she’d be a complete hero.” She added that Heigl was “ahead of her time” and was deemed “ungrateful” for expressing the sentiment, “when the truth is, she’s 100 percent honest and it’s absolutely correct what she said, and she was f–king ballsy for saying it. And she was telling the truth, she wasn’t lying.”

Pompeo likely was referring to Heigl’s 2009 appearance on Late Show With David Letterman in which she called a 17-hour workday near the start of Grey’s Season 6 “cruel and mean” and mentioned that she hoped her comments would embarrass the show’s production team.

Longtime Grey’s viewers will recall that Heigl famously did not offer herself up for Emmy consideration in 2008, saying via statement that she “did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination.”  She left the series in 2010.

In a 2013 interview with the New York Post, Pompeo spoke about the behind-the-scenes unrest. “When Katie left, it was tough,” she said. “You could understand why she wanted to go — when you’re offered $12 million a movie and you’re only 26. But Katie’s problem is that she should not have renewed her contract. She re-upped, took a big raise and then tried to get off the show. And then her movie career did not take off.”

Heigl currently stars in Netflix’s Firefly Lane. A representative for the actress had no comment on Pompeo’s remarks.

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