Katherine Heigl comes clean, addresses ‘ungrateful diva’ image

In next week’s Entertainment Weekly, Katherine Heigl gets pretty real about her ongoing image problems, her disagreements with her now former employers at “Grey’s Anatomy,” and the reasons she is walking away. The EW reporter didn’t pull any punches with Heigl, who just this week announced that she’s leaving the ABC drama for good.

EW: Let’s talk about some of the statements you’ve made publicly. In 2008, after the show’s fourth season, you announced that you decided not to enter yourself in the Emmy race because “I did not feel I was given the material this season to warrant a nomination.” Any regrets about making that statement?
KH: [Laughs] Yes.
EW: Why?
KH: You know…[Exhales] At the time I thought I was doing the right thing. And I wanted to be clear that I wasn’t snubbing the Emmys. The night I won [in 2007] was the highlight of my career. I was just afraid that if I said, “No comment,” it was going to come off like I couldn’t be bothered to [enter the race]. But really, I could have more gracefully said that without going into a private work matter. It was between me and the writers, and I ambushed them, and it wasn’t very nice or fair.

EW: Why didn’t you talk to them privately?
KH: Everybody has bad days. [Laughs] I was a little defensive about my season because I thought I hadn’t had a great one. And a lot of that had to do with me and my performances.

EW: Did you apologize to Shonda [Rimes, creator, head writer, and executive producer of Grey's Anatomy]?
KH: Yeah. [Laughs] I went into her office and I was just like, “Look, that was obnoxious. I apologize.” And she was actually really supportive. She was like, “I get it. I totally get it. I know you didn’t mean it like that.”

EW: You stoked controversy again last July when you went on Letterman and complained about having just worked a 17-hour day at Grey’s. Another regret?
KH: Yes. That was not the time or place to gripe about work. And when I watched it back, I was really embarrassed about how whiny I sounded. And I said it not once, but, like, three times. I was really annoyed with myself after that one. That’s when I realized, “Okay, look, Katie–” talking to myself like I sometimes do –”It’s okay to be passionate. It’s okay to have an opinion. But filter.”

EW: It was my understanding that the reason the 17-hour day was necessary was because you were about to take three days off to do press in New York – Letterman included – for The Ugly Truth.
KH: If that is true, I really wish [the producers] had warned me. It wasn’t like, “Hey, if we let you do this, this is what’s going to happen.” Had I known that, I would not have asked for those three days off. I would have forgone the talk shows. I asked the entire crew- without really understanding that I was asking this – to work a 17-hour day. And for them it’s much worse than just 17 hours. They get there an hour before us and they leave an hour after us. And they all have families they want to get home to.

EW: All of these public statements, combined with the fact that you’re leaving the show before your contract is up, have fostered a perception of you as an ungrateful diva. Are you aware that this is how some people view you?
KH: Yes. [Gets quiet] The ungrateful thing bothers me the most. And that is my fault. I allowed myself to be perceived that way because I was being whiny and I was griping and because I made these snarky comments. So much about living life, to me, is about humility and gratitude. And I’ve tried very hard to have those qualities and be that person and I’m just so disappointed in myself that I allowed it to slip. Of course, of course I’m grateful. How could I not be grateful? I have been afforded such a wonderful life. And to have come this far and to have this kind of success and the freedom and the choices it allows me…The fact that I could even have Naleigh in my life- adoption isn’t cheap – is something to be so unbelievably grateful for. I am disappointed in myself for allowing that perception to exist. There’s nothing more gross than the idea of somebody in my position being ungrateful. And I hope that in the coming years I can change people’s minds about that.

[From Entertainment Weekly print version, April 2, 2010]

Heigl also said in the interview that she has had some trouble bonding with her new daughter Naleigh, and her work schedule was getting in the way of making that situation better. “It was really hard because she loved Josh [her husband] and she just kind of tolerated me,” she said. It will be interesting to see if Heigl’s work schedule slows down any now that she’s off the show. It doesn’t appear that way, though: she’s currently in production on two movies and is rumored to be considering the role of Stephanie Plum, the snarky bounty hunter from Janet Evanovich’s best selling series of mystery novels. I think it’s about time that Heigl apologizes for some of the things she has said over the years, but I wonder if we really will see a different, more humble person in the future. I guess we’ll have to see.

Thanks to Cover Awards for the header image

Back to Black: Katherine Heigl emerges from Katsuya with her own black hair in a ponytail, after spending all day wearing a blonde wig on the set of Killers

ShoWest Talent Awards

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39 Responses to “Katherine Heigl comes clean, addresses ‘ungrateful diva’ image”

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  1. anneesezz says:

    I can’t believe she wouldn’t go back for at least one or two episodes to explain why Izzie’s gone. Just have her die or whatever. To me, that just seems really b&tchy. Or the other actors on the show really can’t stand he and don’t want her back even for one day. I really hope she goes the way of Shelly Long after she left Cheers. She is NOT all that!

  2. Vanessa says:


    I love Stephanie Plum. I do not see Heigl in that role. sigh.

    I cant tell from this if it is genuine or not. She says, “I try to be that person,” meaning, she is not naturally grateful etc as she SHOULD be, yanno?

    I mean, she adopts this sweet child and I assume is aware of life in the country she came from and she isnt naturally grateful and counting her lucky stars?

  3. Allison says:

    i always loved her as an actress- so this makes me feel not as guilty about. I’d hate to support a b*tch and now it seems like perhaps she isn’t one after all.

  4. Sunnyjyl says:

    She did a good job of explaining herself, and apologizing. I accept it, anyway. What I don’t accept is her in the Stephanie Plum role. I love my Stephanie Plum. She doesn’t fit the physical image AT ALL. And, I really don’t think she can pull off the character. Keeping my fingers crossed though.

  5. lucy2 says:

    Her attitude in recent years has bothered me, but I have to give her credit for this interview – she explained but didn’t try to make excuses, and I think is sincere in owning up to it all. I hope it’s put things in perspective for her, and in the future she’s able to express her opinions without sounding like an ungrateful beyotch.

    She seemed sincere about wanting time with her family, which I think is great, and I hope that turns out to be true. Maybe it’s easier to work on a film or two a year, than every day on a TV show, but I don’t know. I wish their family the best.

  6. bellaluna says:

    She’s totally not Stephanie Plum. And she’s only sorry because of the public backlash.

  7. manda says:

    i don’t really have any passionate feelings for her in any way–i’ve not been interested in most of her stuff, so i don’t really know how she acts. i give her credit for apologizing. now she has to drop it, but she also has to follow through with it. time will tell.

    to Sunnyjyl–i completely agree! she’s not how i pictured plum at all

  8. GrrrrlGrace says:

    I thought she played Izzie well in Grey’s, but other than that I don’t see her as being a long-term, standout actress…even in the romcom field.

  9. TG says:

    I couldn’t stand her before but when she adopted her daughter, I saw a new side of her and if her work is keeping her from bonding with her daughter I undestand her for not wanting to work. What I hate about her is how she ruined Isaiah Washington’s career. Yes, he shouldn’t have made that slur towards TR Knight, but that should have been between the two of them and not that brat Heigel. Let TR Knight fight his own fights he shouldn’t need a woman doing it for him like he is some child.

  10. anon says:

    big deal she complained about work- we all do it. she was dumb saying it in public but she obviously knows that now. mind you greys anatomy seems like hotbed of unhappy actors so no wonder she didn’t like it there. (re washington/knight remark AND the dempsey fight)

  11. Constance says:

    eh. She’s just imagemonger.

    I’d like to hear what George Clooney has to say about it. haha

    Many actresses claim “I want down town to be with children” but never actually take it.

  12. Constance says:

    time* grrr…

  13. Jeff says:

    Dear TG: Isaiah Washington’s career deserved to be ruined for his “slur,” just as Michael Richards’ was after using a racial slur. Your attempt to demean TR Knight is despicable – the incident put him in a very awkward professional position – there is still a lot of homophobia in the entertainment industry – and he has gone on record as saying that he was disappointed about how Shonda Rimes and the network handled the situation. Sentiments shared by LGBT media organizations and LGBT media. Educate yourself. Katherine had the balls to publicly defend her friend and fellow castmate – something that I do not recall the rest of the cast doing. If Ms. Rimes had really wanted to prove her lack of tolerance for homophobia in the industry and taken a courageous leap forward to address the same she could easily have added another straight character played by a reputable out actor – Robert Gant, Malcolm Gets, Cheyenne Jackson, Chad Allan, amongst others, easily come to mind – to make amends for what occured on her set. She didn’t. Hmmmmm.

    It’s called show BUSINESS. Katherine has a limited shelf life as an actress – ageism, sexism and mysogeny do exist – so why shouldn’t she go for the gold while the opportunity exists? It’s simple economics and intelligent career planning.

    There have been numerous reports of alleged problems on the set for years – I think that it’s highly unlikely that she is the sole cause of the same. If her former fellow castmates are all saints, why didn’t they vociferously come to TR Knight’s defense? I am sure that they are aware of the homophobia that exists in the industry? BTW, did you read the comments of “Mad Men’s” creator about why it is career suicide for a lgbt actor to come out? Then Bryan Bratt was written out of the show. Have you heard about the demise of the “Kish” storyline on “OLTL?” Instead of moaning about poor Isaiah, perhaps you should google the foregoing issues and educate yourself. Bravo for Katherine!

    Her apologies to the crew are great. Who among us has never behaved poorly on occasion at the workplace, albeit unintentionally.


  14. lauram says:

    Anyone else seing Micheal Jackson in that cover photo? I love Heigl, but damn…

  15. searching4grace says:

    I don’t really care for Heigl. I never watched gray’s anatomy. I liked the Ulgy Truth, but more for Gerard Butler. I never finished Knocked Up, and barely survived 27 Dresses. i don’t see her as a long term actress.

    Having said that, I DO NOT see her as Stephanie Plum. Plum doesn’t get by on sexual jokes and cleavage, which is pretty much all Heigl can apparently pull off. I’d much rather see someone like Amanda Peet in that roll! vote for Peet!

  16. YT says:

    Could it be that her PR agent had a very serious talk with her about image and gave her a script to memorize? The only thing she is sorry about is all the negative press she has received. Maybe she will learn to curb her mouth in public, but I doubt there will be a personality change.

  17. JM says:

    She sounds great here. Sincere, and real. Don’t we all moan about work? Her mistake wasn’t in complaining, it was in not filtering her opinion when speaking in a public medium. She seems to get it now.

    If you consider it’s only herself she’s hurt with her big mouth, she probably doesn’t deserve such a backlash.

  18. lin234 says:

    I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt. Her comments to me seemed more truthful than bitchy. But then again, sometimes the two are intertwined. I think some people forget that she’s pretty much been in the business since she was a child or teen. She’s turned out fairly well considering the odds on her side.

    Her mother adopted a Korean baby so I don’t see her current actions as something of a pr ploy.

    My only complaints are that her black hair doesn’t suit her coloring at all and that magazine cover is uber-cheesy.

  19. PrettyTarheelFan says:

    @ Jeff, very well said! Unfortunately, we’re all whiny brats on the rare occasion-but no one puts a camera in our face or gives us national attention. We still find ourselves having to apologize if we seem ungrateful, spoiled, or frustrated in our positions. For KH, she had to do all that in front of national media. She chose that career, and she should have been more media-savvy with regard to how her attitude would be reflected (handlers, agents, PR reps-all things that should be employed by those whose career exists at the whim of the public), BUT she’s apologized, and she’s moving into a new career. This alone may have a positive effect on her attitude-I know when I left my old job, medical sales, and got into contract negotiations for a media company, I became a nicer person. How she handles herself now that she has her way, will determine her long-term reputation-gracious actress or spoiled brat.

  20. canadianchick says:

    Well said Jeff.

    She’s been in showbiz a long time and knows about the importance of a filter when talking to media. I think she said all that stuff to sabotage her job and get free of it to focus on what matters to her, child, hubby, making movies and being a fabulous lapsed Mormon.

  21. hatsumomo says:

    I hope she doesn’t change. I love a great good beautiful bitch.

  22. jules says:

    No No No No She is sooo not a Stephanie Plum!

  23. Susette says:

    @YT: Ding, ding! We have a winner. That whole thing sounds like it was rehearsed with a publicist.

    I really don’t care much about her either way, but I have a feeling that it won’t be long before another diva incident takes place.

    I give her props on the adoption and the nice things she does for dogs, though.

  24. Istanem says:

    Finally, someone who takes responsibility for their own actions and doesn’t make excuses and just says “I said it, I shouldn’t have, I regret it and I’m sorry. How refreshing! No one is perfect and we all say and do the wrong thing sometimes. It’s the people that can stand up and say so that are the better people. Good on her.

  25. Jag says:

    I was fully prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt, having read part of that last quote from her elsewhere. I knew you’d have the real, full story here. But then I saw the photo that is being run with the story and about fell out of my chair. A faux praying pose??? If that isn’t obnoxious, I don’t know what is. She is awful, and no, I don’t believe a word she says unless it’s bitchy, whining and ungrateful. As for the 17 hour day, I remember it differently, in that she was late on set and they had to wait for her, then she whined about it. I’d work 17 hour days to make the kind of money she does and would love every minute of it. What a brat.

  26. S says:

    I don’t buy only because her actions speak louder than her words. She SAYS she’s so grateful, but how about showing some gratitude for a show that gave you 5 weeks off for a movie, then a few months off for maternity leave?? How about instead of just not showing up, you show up and finish the season so that they can at least finish the storyline properly. To me, that would be showing gratitude. Instead she still looks like a snot.

  27. UrbanRube says:

    Looks like she’s getting some good therapy.

  28. Scarlet Vixen says:

    I want to like her so badly, but something just rings false about this. I used to love her hubby’s (Josh Kelly) music, too-was a BIG fan-until I saw him in a couple interviews and he’s EXACTLY the same. Totally full of himself. Broke my heart. :-(

    Maybe she’ll go away soon…

  29. Lacy says:

    @anneesezz If you watched the show you would know that they already explained her absence. Her character got fired and ran away, then they brought her back for an episode so that her husband could tell her it was over and to take a job offer in another city, and never come back.. and she did. What more explanation do you expect?

  30. princess pea says:

    Wasn’t there some physical altercation between Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey, as well? It’s not like Heigl was the only one who didn’t like homophobic slurs on set; she didn’t GET him fired, he did that for himself.

    This sounds sincere to me, like maybe she has really looked at herself and wants to change. We complain all the time that celeb apologies are all pushing the blame off, but this was actual ownership. Good on her. (And if she did consult her pr peeps in advance, that’s not abnormal.)

  31. buckley says:

    ok, this definitely debitchyfies (yes i made it up) her to me a bit…

  32. Jeri says:

    She is definitely no STEPHANIE PLUM. She is the opposite type, big, blonde, bossy, etc. Stephanie is supposed to be a dark petite curvy sexy without trying type in jeans & t-shirts.

    Well, we’ll we if her attitude does change or if the Plum movies bomb if she blames everyone but herself.

  33. noonoo says:

    Wow. Not many mothers admit they are having trouble bonding with their children. I thinks thats incredibly brave.

  34. Amy says:

    I am a fan of Heigl, I think she is a talented actress. I am glad she’s learned her lesson.When a person is in the public eye,it is an image buster to act all superior and stuck up.

  35. Maritimer says:

    If you get a chance, read the ENTIRE article. This only a quarter of it.
    It is actually quite good and she comes off very well/real/down to earth.

    She also explains why they decided not to bring Izzy back for a few shows just to finish things. It makes sense.

  36. Lemanda says:

    I really hate that she’s going to be Stephanie Plum!! I don’t hate her but it doesn’t fit the role, she’s also too young. It should have been Snadra Bullock, Marisa Tomei or Lauren Graham!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Damn just read confirmation from the author that it’s her…suddenly the movie I’ve been waiting years for is no longer interetsing to me. I hate when they can’t even get the casting right!!

  37. Lemanda says:

    Oh I have just decided on the PERFECT Stephanie Plum ZOOEY DESCHANEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Why oh Why Catherine!!! My Day is ruined!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. I admired this beautiful woman..

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