Iz all good. Katherine Heigl opened up about her past drama on Grey’s Anatomy, including her infamous withdrawal from the 2008 Emmys, in a new interview with Howard Stern for his SiriusXM radio show on Wednesday, April 20.
The Doubt actress, 37, memorably declined to be considered for a nomination nearly eight years ago, saying that she did not warrant the recognition due to her lackluster storyline on Grey’s Anatomy that season. “In an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention,” she told the Los Angeles Times at the time. “In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.”
“I didn’t feel good about my performance and there was a part of me that thought, because I had won the year before, that I needed juicy, dramatic, emotional material,” Heigl told Stern on Wednesday. As fans may recall, the situation flared up and created tension between Heigl and the series’ writers, including showrunner Shonda Rhimes.
“I went in because I was really embarrassed,” Heigl recalled of making amends with the Scandal creator. “So I went in to Shonda and said, ‘I’m so sorry. That wasn’t cool, and I should not have said that.’ And I shouldn’t have said anything publicly. But at the time, I didn’t think anyone would notice … I just quietly didn’t submit and then it became a story, and I felt I was obligated to make my statement, and … ‘Shut up, Katie.'”
Heigl’s Emmys drama wasn’t the only source of strife, though. One of the biggest issues for the actress — who played Dr. Izzie Stevens on the wildly popular TV show beginning with its inception in 2005 — was the size of the central cast, which included Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Justin Chambers, Sandra Oh and many others at the time.
For Heigl, groveling for more airtime on the program wasn’t the best feeling. “Yeah, it does feel a little dirty,” she admitted to Stern. “And then you feel selfish and then you feel like you’re not being fair somehow. But everybody has to look out for themselves … There are a lot of people. It’s a big show. And that’s, I think, what made it work so much too! … I don’t even know how they kept that s–t straight.”
Heigl left the series in 2010 amid rumors that she was “difficult” to work with. Rhimes even publicly slammed the actress in a 2014 interview for her on-set behavior. “There are no Heigls in this situation,” Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter of other actors on her set.
All of the negative attention was too much, Heigl said to Stern, so she sought help. “I had never done therapy until a couple years ago. I started going because of the [pauses] scrutiny. I was not handling it well. I was feeling completely like the biggest piece of s–t on the bottom of your shoe,” she told Stern on Wednesday. “I was really struggling with it and how to not take it all personally and not to feel that there’s something really deeply wrong with me.”
“It was a weird time,” she said. “I remember doing this little independent movie and just being afraid to say anything about anything. I remember wearing shoes a size too small because I was afraid to tell wardrobe that they weren’t big enough because I didn’t want to be difficult. And after that, I was like, this is nonsense. Stop it.”
The therapist helped her overcome her fears. “He was recommended by a friend and I didn’t know who else to go to … it was convenient, and he ended up being absolutely wonderful and just my speed,” she said. “I’ve only gone about five times in my life … For me, it’s a lot about wanting to be able to sleep at night.”
Listen to her above.