Katherine Heigl: 'I don't see myself as difficult'

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Image Credit: Michael Parmelee/NBC

It was the question everybody wanted to ask—and it got so awkward when someone finally did.

NBC’s State of Affairs panel during the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills got a bit tense when the topic turned to Katherine Heigl, her mother Nancy (an executive producer on the upcoming series), and rumors about the pair’s reputation on set.

It started when a TCA reporter reminded Heigl about some of the controversial remarks she had to say about Hollywood, particularly focused on her conduct on set, whether her career was out of her control, and whether she felt there is “a portion of this controversy that is about Hollywood not knowing what to do with a woman who speaks her mind.” The reporter also asked whether Heigl felt her career was now back under her grip.

After a visibly speechless Heigl let out an elongated “Umm…,” producer Ed Bernero tried to answer the question for Heigl, but the reporter pressed on: “Seriously, I want to hear from Katherine.”

“I don’t know that I said I felt my career was not under my control,” Heigl said. “I think I said I felt I had stopped challenging myself and I was making choices that I loved, that I was excited about. I loved doing romantic comedies, I loved doing them and I loved watching them, but I stopped … exercising different muscles of my ability. And in that moment, I felt that I was sort of letting down my audience, that I wasn’t challenging them either.”

Heigl continued: “I think that this opportunity is — and I think a lot of people want to know why this show, why come back to television — it’s because it’s an extraordinary role, it’s an extraordinary opportunity, and an extraordinary story, and it’s an opportunity for me to flex some different muscles and show a different side of myself as an actor and a performer and a storyteller that I hope my audience will be excited about and love.”

Heigl then addressed the reporter’s second concern, fielding rumors that she and her mother might be difficult to work with. “I can’t really speak to that. I can only say that I certainly don’t see myself as being difficult. I would never intend to be difficult. I don’t think my mother sees herself as being difficult. We always … I think it’s important to everybody to conduct themselves professionally and respectfully and kindly. If I’ve ever disappointed somebody, it was never intentional.”

Prior to Heigl’s question, one critic called Nancy Heigl’s executive producer credit “stage mothering to the extreme” when asking NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt and president Jennifer Salke about the move. Salke responded: “I’ll tell you very honestly … we had an amazing meeting with them. They’re both very smart, formidable women, and I’m not just giving lip service to this—they’ve been fantastic producers and incredibly smart through this process. She’s someone who has a strong opinion, but we’ve found her to be nothing but adamant to the process, and also Katie really relies on her in her life. It’s a real partnership that seems to work for both of them and it’s been great for us. But it’s not surprising when the mother walks in the door with her, we knew they were a set and worked together in the past. I would call her her ‘mom-ager,’ her best friend … she’s a partner in her life. They have a very natural shorthand. So far, so good.”

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