Exclusive: Katherine Heigl on being 'disappointed' in herself and the truth behind Emmygate

katherine-heigl-ausielloImage Credit: ANDREW ECCLES FOR EWBefore we get to the excerpt from my exclusive Katherine Heigl exit interview/cover story, let’s talk, shall we, about what you’re really here for: what isn’t in that story!

For starters, the Emmy winner does her own dishes!
 I found that out when her musician-husband, Josh Kelley, greeted me at the door of their L.A. abode and ushered me into the kitchen, where Heigl was wrist-deep in suds. Well, she was washing something in the sink before she reached out to shake my hand. I was too busy taking mental notes of my surroundings to know for sure. (OMG, there’s her Emmy in the living room!)

Oh, and she doesn’t live in a mansion. In fact, though the house the couple share with daughter Naleigh is lovely and boasts a lawn with an impressive manicure, it’s pretty modest by Hollywood standards. It’s more homey than mansiony. It was very much in sync with Heigl’s casual appearance that day. In capri jeans and a purple cardigan, with her new brunette locks pulled back and wearing zero makeup, she was still a knockout but hardly the glamourpuss who’d turned so many heads the night before at the ShoWest Awards (even before her wardrobe malfunctioned).

For our Q&A, Heigl poured both of us both some white wine and we retired to her second-floor deck. At one point while we were talking, Kelley interrupted to bring out the biggest cheese-and-cracker platter you have ever seen. All the while, the animal lover’s two dogs milled about inside, her two cats outside, and little Naleigh snoozed.

Too Norman Rockwellian to be true? Maybe. I’m sure some of it was a ploy to butter me up. But I was still feelin’ it. Besides, when it came time to get down to business, neither Heigl nor I pulled any punches. She knew I was going to ask her some tough questions about her departure from Grey’s Anatomy and her overall reputation as a handful, and she answered them with surprising candor. Herewith are just a few snippets from that discussion. For the complete story, pick up the new EW, on sale tomorrow.

The plan was for you to return to the set on March 1 and stick around through the end of the season. But you didn’t show up on March 1. Why?
HEIGL:
I went on my family leave and spent three months in Utah and just got to be a mom, and it changed my whole perspective… That was really the turning point for me. So before I was due back, I spoke again to Shonda about wanting to leave. Then I waited at home until I was given the formal okay that I was off the show. The rumors that I refused to return were totally untrue.

Would you describe it as an amicable parting?
HEIGL:
Yeah, I think so. I think it was a little bit shocking for everybody, and a little bit like, “Can’t we find a way to work it out?” And I really wanted to, but at the same time I just felt like I couldn’t sacrifice my relationship with my child. Naleigh and I will always be a little bit complicated. I really had to work on bonding with her because I was obsessed with her, but she could really do without me. [Laughs] It was really hard because she loved Josh so much but she just kind of tolerated me. And I want this child to know that she will forever have me in her corner and I don’t want to disappoint her. [Fighting back tears] And even though I know I’m disappointing the fans, and I know I’m disappointing the writers and my fellow cast members and the crew, I just had to make a choice. I hope I made the right one. It sucks. You wish you could have it all exactly the way you want it. But that’s not life. I had to try to find the courage to move on. And I am sad. And I’m scared. But I felt it was the right thing to do; we just didn’t quite know how to do it appropriately, gracefully, and respectfully to the audience. And I think we all felt it wasn’t respectful to the audience to bring [Izzie] back again and then have her [leave] again. We did it twice this season. It starts to feel a little manipulative.

In 2008, you announced that you decided not to enter yourself in the Emmy race because, you said “I did not feel I was given the material this season to warrant a nomination.” Any regrets about making that statement?
HEIGL:
Yes. [Laughs]

Why?
HEIGL:
You know… 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 just was 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. I ambushed them, and it wasn’t very nice or fair.

That statement, and the one you made on Letterman, 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?
HEIGL:
Yes. 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 can 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. The six years [I spent on Grey’s] were important years, and I don’t want them to be demeaned. And that’s another reason why I’m so annoyed with myself. I let myself demean something that was actually very beautiful and very important. Like any job, there are ups and downs. But I don’t want to demean what that experience was. I don’t want it to become about this negativity that I’ve spewed.

For my complete Q&A with Heigl, including her surprising thoughts on Isaiah Washington, what she said to Shonda Rhimes after Emmygate broke, her least favorite scene ever, when she knew Gizzie wasn’t working, why she stopped watching the show, and whether or not she’d ever step foot back in Seattle Grace, pick up the new issue of EW.

Comments (254 total) Add your comment
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  • Michael

    I think she’s sorry, and people need to accept it and move on. Stop all the hater comment spewing. She made mistakes; we all do. It’s too bad that they couldn’t wrap up Izzie’s story line better though.

    • zuma girl

      agreed. if she had a problem with the writers, she was allowed to feel that way. but of course she should have kept it between her and them.

    • jenl

      still don’t like her. just standard PR. I don’t believe this sudden change of heart about what she says and does. still same old Heigl in my book.

      • KAR

        she earns, what, 6 million dollars a movie, yet lives in a modest home. that’s not a stunt for an interview. of course some of this is PR. that doesn’t mean she’s not sincere in her regret. it makes me laugh how people like you blindly believe anything and everything negative while dismissing the positive, just to reinforce the perception they’ve already created in their head. she might not be this amazingly humble person, but she’s not the witch she’s being made out to be either. that’s simply common sense.

      • Janie

        She makes $12 million now.

      • Sen

        actually, the last movie she made, she got 24 mil. so yea, she’s definitely modest.

      • jenl

        KAR is that u Heigl. Ausiello described it as modest 4 LA standards which is prolly a manson 2 the rest of the world. Plus no star takes home the whole amount they make u have agents, managers, taxes etc. So her home is prolly the right size for the amt of money she makes. Otherwise, I’m sure if she could upgrage, she would to fit her ego. She’s sincere in the regret that people didnt buy into the crap that comes out of her mouth. When she finally understood that a portion of the world didn’t bow down to her and buy into her stinking movies, she knew she had to do a PR tour. I’m sure we’ll see her popping up in other interviews saying the same talking points to make over her image. Down to the fact that she dyed her hair to more identify with the little people. It just amazes me KAR how u so want me to buy into this NEW Heigl because it doesn’t make sense 2 u. I on the other hand appreciate u having a different OPINION and me having the FREEDOM to have my own, which I will continue to keep. Thanks.

      • KAR

        Hahaha. Oh, jenL. Posting over and over on a messageboard under different aliases? Over Katherine Heigl???? Soooo pathetic! :D:D:D

      • CC

        Personally, I, too, hope she is faking it. I LOVED the old Heigl, and not in an ironic way. She spoke her mind about a show everyone has been saying has had deteriorating writing for years. She spoke her mind about an important aspect of not just one but ALL Judd Apatow movies. She’s awesome. I hate that she feels she has to pay penance. The fact that it annoys people like jenl is just icing on the cake cause it says a helluva lot more about them than it does about Heigl!

      • Patrick

        People you don’t seem to realize that you are making rash and STUPID judgements about a person’s life when you don’t know anything about them. Anything. You are just being an utter and complete media monger. Maybe you should, you know, be more objective about things, or just get a life. I’m not making judgements either way, because it’s pointless. You don’t see this person in their private life, you aren’t her friend. How can you know what she’s really like? She’s constantly in the spotlight and that changes EVERYTHING about your perception. Obviously this applies to everyone, but not in your guys heads, some stars get praised by you for no reason at all. It’s pathetic.

      • Blaaaake!

        comments from dumba$$es like JenL don’t deserve a response. Did anyone notice her/his spelling? Atrocious!

        Anyone who uses “u” instead of ‘you’ deserves to be ignored (and that includes Prince too).

        Age is no excuse for stupidity and JenL has got that in spades.

      • jennrae

        I’m softening to her, but I still can’t help but think it’s all PR spin. I mean, she is an actress, tears are cake.

      • Natalie

        Completely agree with CC!

      • Beth

        All PR here…..she wants to stay home with her child but I am sure she has 6 movies lined up….mark my words. She was making a movie pretty recently.

      • ewj

        wow people are way off on her movie role payments. In “Lost and Found” she is getting 3.2 million and Killers which is due out this year is her first movie in which she is getting more than $2 million upfront.

        Jennifer Anniston who is more establish makes $4 million pic. the number of women making more than 6 million per pic is 6, and she is not one of them.

        The movie economy – especially the romantic comedies – is in a free fall.

        She gets most of her money from endorsement deals.

        BTW, she and her husband own three homes. do not forget their Park City home

      • L

        She dyed her hair because she wants it to be brunette.

        She is on record back in 2002 and back at the start of Grey’s. She pleaded with the producers of both Roswell and Grey’s Anatomy to let her be a brunette and both TV shows made her be blonde.

        So the hair “for the little people” part you are wrong about. The rest I don’t know because I have only met her once briefly back in 2001.

      • Kelly

        EWJ – actually she is. If you check Forbes or any other reputable source you will see she is the worlds 3rd highest paid female movie star. She is also in the current Guinness Book of Records for her earnings. She may not even star in Lost & Found. As for endorsements – you are completely wrong Heigl is not currently endorsing anything. The only remaining thing is her scrubs line but that deal if from a few years back.

      • jules

        Actually Kelly you’re wrong. Forbes.com lists the highest paid actresses per movie for 2009 and the top ten are: Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Sandra Bullock, Reese WItherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Drew Barrymore, Renee Zellweger.

    • Cara

      Agreed! Sounds like it’s best for everybody that it’s over, and as a sometimes-fan I appreciate her candor in answering the tough questions instead of having a publicist there to intervene, or clamming up, or becoming b*tchy. There’s something to be said for that, even if you hate her.

    • Dai

      agreed!

    • kate

      I’ve always liked her, in large part because of her honesty and relatability. Of course, it’s helpful that I don’t put actors on a pedestal and expect them to be perfect.

    • plusizexaminer

      BS. She isn’t sorry. It’s PR, nothing more. I’m entirely soured on her as an actress now. I don’t see much of a future for her.

    • Hannah

      I agree. I didn’t like her at all until I read this. Hopefully she learns to quit putting her foot in her mouth. But GA will be better off without her so long as they quit getting rid of people. It’s becoming another ER.

      • michael

        I’m sure that you never put your foot in your mouth, right?

    • jessica

      well said.

  • Ken

    Great interview – can’t wait for the whole thing. Really like Katherine, despite how the media sometimes portray her I think she is a sweetheart.

  • Alex

    I cannot wait to read the full interview. Exciiited

  • maxine

    Love her! Can’t wait til Friday to read this in full. It would have been weird to bring back Izzie just to have her leave AGAIN. I think it was the best decision for everyone.

    • EWsMom

      She’s still a b*tch.

      • Chris

        Ha! I totally agree! LOL

      • This is an assessment based . . .

        Off of personal interaction, right, EWsMom? Not an assumption made off of an arrticle written in a magazine. If it’s not then you don’t know what you are talking about. For example, based off of what you have written on a message board I’d assume you were an @$$hole. but I don’t know you in person, so I wouldn’t know what I was talking about.

  • Jess

    Argh! Another reason for me to be annoyed I can’t find EW in the UK!

    • Michael

      I KNOW! SO annoying!

      • Lilly13

        The bigger WHSmith branches have them. Example the Victoria Station one in London has them.

    • Claire

      Agreed! I used to get it at Borders but now they’ve gone bust over here I can’t get it anywhere. It’s my favourite magazine… boo!

      • maxine

        Yeah very annoying. Always Ebay! Sometimes WHSmith has it.

      • Stef

        Oh no, I was going to say the Borders on Oxford street, but that’s gone now? I think maybe WH Smith (i know they have it at Heathrow.. although that’s a bit extreme for a magazine ha)

      • Pamela

        Stef, I’ve bought EW at WHSmith at Terminals 1 and 5 at Heathrow recently. Not sure if it’s standard purchase for them at airport outlets throughout the UK though. Agree that trekking out to an airport just to find an EW is a bit over the top!

    • becca

      seriously?? You have total film(which i could not get enough of living there) and empire and you’re complaining about not getting ew?? Bizarre.

      • Claire

        *Shrug* You always want what you can’t have…

        I used to get Empire but haven’t for years, it got pretty expensive, more expensive than EW and it’s blooming imported! Plus Empire covers films mainly, where as EW includes TV, music etc It acknowledges shows like FNL exist, I’d eat my hat (if I had one) if I saw a UK mag cover that show…

        Anyhoo, I’ve tried WHSmith but never seen it any I’ve been in. Sucks.

    • Chan

      Nor in Italy.

      OK people let me ask something why read an article on KH if you don’t like her? I mean I like her, I read it. I’m sorry she leave GA but honestly an actress who leave her job to construct a relationship with her Ned-adopted kid has my total respect. And if that’s a PR thing… who cares. She didn’t leave insulting everyone.
      Then to call someone a name you should at least speak with her ONCE. You can criticize her work, but are you a psychic to know her without actually ever speak with her? Grow up! This bashing thing is getting old now! (actually it was old already one year ago)

  • Liz

    Am I supposed to cry?

    • jenl

      exactly!

    • just jen, no L

      hahahaha. i know, right? i might throw up instead.

  • mary

    Great interview so far, but I still don’t like her. She’s just saying all this to look good and she still sounds like a brat.

    • maxine

      Yeah but something tells me she could bring about world peace and cure cancer and you and others would still find a negative. What do you want her to say exactly?

      • KEVIN

        I agree with maxine, it doesn’t matter what good things Heigl has ever done or said or will ever do or say, the people who hate her will always hate her.

      • candy

        It’s not about what she says its about what she does. She says now she’s grateful but her actions haven’t shown that. She has to start being more respectful of the people she’s working with. Once she gets a good reputation that will change public opinion.

    • Tracey

      I would have to agree she is still a brat. Saying she wants to be a mom but then turning around and making more movies? Dying her hair to sway public opinion about her playing a part and trying to sound mellow and grateful in interviews. She is a poor mans Gwyneth Paltrow.

      • KAR

        hahaha. you can’t be serious. do you live in the stone age? women can have a career and be a mom too. they can dye their hair for any reason they want. and “trying” to sound grateful and mellow? wow, you must have some sort of magical mind reading ability. or are you just “trying” to sound mean and narrow-minded?

      • Beth

        I think her wanting to focus on being a mom and make movies makes sense- making a movie doesn’t take nearly as much time as a tv show, leaving her with more time to be at home with her daughter.

        I for one like her, but maybe it’s only because ‘My Father the Hero’ is my favorite guilty pleasure!

      • L

        Dude. She did not dye her hair because of PR. Read interviews from between season 2 and 3 of Roswell and right before the pilot of Grey’s. She has always wanted to be a brunette (HER natural hair color). The producers of both shows said NO she had to be blonde (which I agree looks better.) When Roswell was cancelled after the 2nd season, she immediately dyed it brown and cut it short. Then she got the phone call that they ended up getting picked up by a new network (fans campaigned) and there was a season 3. So producers let her keep it. But Grey’s made her be blonde again…. basically as soon as I saw the pap pics of her with brown hair – I knew she was going to announce she was off Grey’s.

        So think what you want, but the hair color thing is ridiculous. It’s also ridiculous that people assume that brunette is “commoner” and blonde is not. Megan Fox has black hair and Angelina has brown hair…. do either of them seem relatable and “commoner” to you?

        I don’t care if you think she’s a brat etc. I just wanted to correct the hair thing cuz that annoys me when people make assumptions based on hair colors.

      • Kelly

        Heigl has often been a brunette. In fact go check out some pics of her in 1995 (Under Siege 2 Premiere) and you will see her with hair as dark as it is now.

    • KFed

      I believe in showing and not telling. She can say she is grateful now, but she hasn’t shown herself to be grateful and so her words are meaningless. Much like how she says it’s unfair on everybody that she’s not going back to Grey’s, and yet, she’s still not. If she wanted more time, do you think they wouldn’t have let her do some eps next season? Or if she only wanted to do one, do you think they would have said yes? Of course they would have. She’s ripped off fans of the show, who have made her a movie star. Let’s not forget that she was the star of the lowest grossing movie of all time. She has a short memory.

      • KAR

        tl;dr

      • Candy

        A movie that was never released except in one theatre for SAG credits. It was an indie made for DVD movie. Just a quirk. Also if you read the interview she says she would like come back into the show again in the future now and then if it is possible.

      • Zoe

        I think this is fair. I appreciate her owning up to her mistakes, we all make them, but how she acts from this point forward is where the real proof will be had.

      • Cindy

        She hasn’t been my favorite person either. In fact I find that whole show annoying. Sandra Oh is the best things about it. But she freely admits she was whiney and came across as ungrateful, so she made herself step back and chill. She will probably always be complicated but nothing like having a child to make you grow up

      • KFed

        I read the interview, I just didn’t believe her. Yes and why was the film only released for SAG points? Because it sucked.

  • UGH

    Boo-fing-Hoo

  • Jenn

    I love her, but have to say that top photo really makes her look like she’s plotting something sinister! :D

    • zuma girl

      maybe that was the point? that pic and the cover pic are very tongue in cheek. not everyone in hollywood can poke fun at themselves.

    • jenl

      she is plotting something sinister, this exact interview to TRY to make her look good. didn’t work 4 the people who know who she really is.

      • marrow…

        I love when people on the internet act like they know who celebrities REALLY are underneath it all. It’s so enlightening!

      • jenl

        wow marrow by that logic how do u know that we arent right. that means u dont know what the **** u r talking about either. she has shown herself time and again in interviews, and u chose to see one thing and I other. i find u no more enlighten than u find me.

      • marrow…

        sweetie, nowhere did I say I bought what she’s saying or that I’m even a fan. Have you even watched Grey’s? What a terrible terrible show. Blech.

      • Jenny

        Time for jenl to go change her tampon.

  • step

    Ugh.

    • UGH

      Yes?

      • Chif

        Lol! Funny!

  • mary

    this is for Maxine, there’s something about her that I don’t like and I don’t have to like her. If people like her great I don’t have a problem with that, but she just rubs me the wrong way.

    • maggies

      me 2.

    • maxine

      No that is absolutely fine and I wasn’t meaning to single you out. You are entitled not to like her but it seems to me she can’t win either way. Whatever she says is wrong for some people. So if you don’t like her why even worry what say says? Just avoid it.

      • maggies

        i cant avoid it when EW who i subscribe to sends it in my mailbox and jams her on the cover down my throat.

      • Candy

        But how does that force you to post on message boards?

      • maggies

        Candy because when I went to EW on my computer this morning, the first thing I was accosted with was Heigl’s face. I thought this was the forum where I could voice my dissatisfaction at seeing her but I guess I was wrong and these boards are only for the people who LOVE a celebrity. I will not make that mistake again so that I do not incur the wrath of Heigl lovers for intruding on their board.

      • RyRyNYC

        Maggies, you are missing the point. they are pointing out you are making an effort by posting.. and an even greater effort by replying to their posts. Go ahead, post all you want, I do to. Its addictive. LOL

  • mary sue

    So Katherine Heigl does her own dishes. Whoop-Dee-Doo, so do I. Does that mean I get to be on the cover of EW next week?

    • zuma girl

      no.

    • maggies

      i would prefer u 2 her mary sue. i do not want a cover of diva Heigl coming in my mailbox.

    • Gabi

      No. You have to star in a hit drama show, won an Emmy and other awards and THEN you can start to think of being in a cover on, not EW but in ANY magazine.

  • tara

    Looks like it’s going to be a good interview. I’m glad she’s saying something. She’s said and done virtually nothing to stop her reputation from spiraling out of control. If all she’s had a bit of an ego-check because of it, that can only be a good thing for her and her family.

    And I’ve heard about new parents to an adopted child having a hard time bonding with them. Hopefully katie finds a way to connect with her daughter.

    • an adoptee

      she let pictures of her daughter be posted on the pet adoption website of the foundation for her brother. photos of an adopted child DO NOT belong on a pet adoption website, and any adoptive parent who thinks that’s okay probably doesn’t understand much about adoption, even if they have an adopted sibling. it makes me feel sick. for the sake of her child, i hope she gets it together.

      • Kay

        I’m adopted and I have no problem with it. I don’t see it as treating the two equally. If anything, it promotes the idea that adopting a pet is also a lifetime commitment as a child (adopted or not) is a lifetime commitment. Not enough people understand- or want to understand- that.

      • Kay

        Incidentally, would you have a problem with anyone putting pics of their kids on the site? That’s what her daughter is to her- her daughter. Not her ADOPTED daughter but her daughter. If your objection is to the fact that her daughter is adopted and wouldn’t have similar objections to Ben and Jen putting Violet’s image with a cause they believe in, don’t even go there…

      • Calm down Crispy . . .

        It’s an entertainment mag. If you want to be angry about anything be mad there aren’t more stories about how movies are made and what was in the creator’s heads when they were being made. Something more enlightening about the craft then this Fluff Piece PR celebrity gossip horse $#^% we are routinely subjected to.

      • crispy

        That is EXACTLY why I don’t like Ausiello!

  • kathryn

    darnit! :( oh Ausiello, how i wish i could learn more (but can’t go buy the new EW. :/) great interview!

    • DanaV

      I so hope Ausiello was not up her butt on this interview.

      • Pete

        Too late – you can tell from the opening of the article he was so star struck. His fawning tone is laughable.

      • crispy

        I truly can’t believe people take this hack seriously. Honestly, any “writer” whose lede is to brag about being invited into a star’s home is a joke to real journalists.

      • your name sucks

        You have a beef with Assiello or something, man? Has he wronged you in a past life?

      • crispy

        No beef. He just belongs at E! Online or People. And he looks like a gay Eddie Munster.

      • Candy

        So you are a homophobic as well as an idiot?

      • crispy

        LOL at homophobic! Well, Candy, there was that one time my boyfriend came home late smelling like a brewery. I was peeved, but I wouldn’t call it hate.

      • Kyle

        Ausiello is not a journalist – he’s a prancing, fawning gossip columnist and, frankly, an embarrassment to the publication. Actual talent like Josh Wolk are leaving, and they’re giving cover stories to this hack. Really sad.

  • zuma girl

    a cheese and crackers tray? haha, that’s awesome.

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