Katherine Heigl: How She Torpedoed Her Own Career And Survived

By Rick Gonzales | 11 months ago

Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl had it all. Shew was on the massively popular hit TV series Grey’s Anatomy and was pulling down movie roles that paid her millions. She had looks that could stop a train and more importantly, she could act. But then the “diva” label hit and down went Heigl’s star. She stopped getting big movie roles and her public profile lowered.

Was she a diva? And what happened to Katherine Heigl after she took that step off the career cliff? Here’s the answer.


Creepy role

Now 41-years-old, Katherine Heigl got her career started as a teenager. Her first role was in the feature film That Night. She followed it up with King of the Hill. But it was her next two movie roles that she saw much more screen time and began to forge her early career.

She appeared seen in the 1994 romantic comedy My Father the Hero where she played a teenager trying to impress a potential boyfriend by pretending her father, played by French actor Gérard Depardieu, was her lover. Yikes!

Katherine Heigl
Katherine Heigl in Under Siege 2

It was a modest hit, but Katherine Heigl turned that into another movie role, this time starring with then box office hitmaker Steven Seagal in the movie Under Siege 2: Dark Territory as Seagal’s niece.

Katherine Heigl continued to build a solid resume. Up until 2000, she appeared in seven movies which included the horror film Bride of Chucky, Prince Valiant, Bug Buster, and 100 Girls. In 1999, she played her first “Isabel” character when she was a regular on the teen hit show, Roswell. She held that role for the series’ entire three-season run.

100 girls scene
Scene from 100 Girls

Katherine Heigl’s acting career didn’t slow down after Roswell ended its run. If anything, it ramped up even more. Her body of work, this time, turned more toward TV movies, which she made a handful. One of her biggies was the prequel Romy and Michele: In The Beginning. All of this was simply a build-up to what would become her biggest accomplishment and sadly, her biggest failure.


Katherine Heigl

In 2005, Shonda Rhimes came a calling. She was putting together a show many know and love called Grey’s Anatomy. The story followed the life of Meredith Grey, the daughter of a highly regarded general surgeon as Grey was entering her medical residency.

Katherine Heigl character on Grey’s Anatomy was another doctor, who along with a handful of doctors, were also entering their residency. Heigl’s Izzie Stevens was a hit. The beauty of the show early on was that it didn’t simply focus on Grey’s character, it spread the wealth and allowed the other actors to shine. Heigl took advantage of this.


Knocked Up

Katherine Heigl was truly beginning to open eyes. Her beauty led the way as she was called the Most Desirable Woman by AskMen.com in 2008. On top of continuing to star in Grey’s, she landed in the feature romantic comedy Knocked Up with Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd. Her star continued to rise.

Reportedly, Heigl brought home $300,000 for Knocked Up but with her next movie, 27 Dresses, she brought home a cool $6 million. Yes, Katherine Heigl was on top. So, on top was Katherine Heigl that she won the 2007 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.


Katherine Heigl

Whether it be too much all at one time, or Katherine Heigl believing what the press and fans have been clamoring about, things with Heigl began to change. Labels like “difficult” and “diva” began to appear by her name.

In a 2008 interview with Vanity Fair Heigl attacked the movie Knocked Up, in which she was the co-star, calling it “a little sexist” and complained about her character in the film. Her co-star Seth Rogen said he was hurt by his comments, particularly because he enjoyed working with her on the film and though she enjoyed it too. Rogen said, “I think when that happens — also your trust feels somewhat betrayed.”



It all culminated when Katherine Heigl was again nominated for the 2008 Emmy’s. She was the frontrunner. But then she did something totally unexpected. She pulled out of contention.

In her statement as to why she withdrew Katherine Heigl explained that she didn’t feel her role in Grey’s Anatomy Season 4 was “given the material” to warrant a nomination or a win. Thud! Later she explained, “I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and, in an effort, to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention.” She also stated, “In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.”

Katherine Heigl

After that, Katherine Heigl’s role on the series was cut back, though according to series creator Rhimes, it was because Heigl had asked for a lighter work schedule. She continued to get work in feature films but the environment on the set of Grey’s continued to turn bad for Katherine Heigl.

Then one day Katherine Heigl just decided not to show up. Rhimes immediately went to work, reached an agreement, and Heigl was no longer part of the show. Rhimes had this to say about the situation, “On some level it stung and on some level I was not surprised,” she said. “When people show you who they are, believe them. I carry that with me a lot. It has served me well.”

A few years later, during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Rhimes spoke about her new show (at the time) Scandal and handed out a vicious dig concerning Katherine Heigl, “there are no Heigls” on set. “I don’t put up with bullshit or nasty people,” she said of her “no assholes policy”.


Katherine Heigl

The question is, what really happened to Katherine Heigl after her Grey’s fiasco? It didn’t stop her from getting more work. Consistent work, even though her reputation as being difficult continued to follow her. Katherine Heigl starred in the features Life As We Know It, New Year’s Eve, and Jackie & Ryan. She also found herself on the TV series State of Affairs and Doubt.

Katherine Heigl in Doubt

Even after the complete fallout with Grey’s, Katherine Heigl says she went back to Rhimes to see if she could come back and finish Izzie’s story. “I really, really, really want to see where (Izzie) is,” she said. “I just want to know what happened to her and where she went and what she’s doing now. My idea is that she actually, like, figures it out, and finds some success and does really well in a different hospital. She was always floundering, you know, and so she was always one step behind the eight ball and I want to see that girl take some power back.”

Obviously Rhimes wasn’t having any of it.


Katherine Heigl has since expressed major regret for how she played her hand. She went on Howard Stern’s Sirius Radio show to explain. “I wasn’t feeling good about my work that season, no,” said Heigl. “As an actor, if you want to get nominated [for an Emmy], you have to submit your work. That year, I said I’m not going to submit [anything] because there is nothing I feel good about. . . 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.”

She says she even went to Rhimes to offer an apology in person. “I went in because I was really embarrassed,” Heigl recalled via Vanity Fair. “So I went in to [see] 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 [I should have just said], ‘Shut up, Katie.’”


In 2007 Katherine Heigl married singer Josh Kelly. In 2009 they adopted their daughter, in 2012 they adopted a second daughter. Then in 2016 Heigl gave birth to their third child, a boy named Joshua.

Katherine Heigl continues to get work. She was a regular in the series Suits and is now working on another series, Firefly Lane, for Netflix. Her hopes of becoming a blockbuster movie star are behind her but she’s still a working actress.

View this post on Instagram

Dodododododododo….? original song by me. ?

A post shared by Katherine Heigl (@katherineheigl) on

Maybe after all these years, Katherine Heigl has grown up. Hopefully, she has put her difficulties behind her and can begin again along the path she was destined to take.