Two weeks ago Ausiello broke the news that Grey’s Anatomy creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes agreed to release Katherine Heigl (Dr. Izzie Stevens) from her contract early effective immediately, meaning that she would not return to the Grey’s set as planned for the last five episodes of the current season. But the real breaking news came this week (in three parts) as Ausiello sat down with Heigl in her LA home and she confirmed her exit, as well as revealed her real reasons for leaving. Ausiello also got all the inside scoop on the many controversies the outspoken actress has been involved in over her 6-year span on the hit TV series. Only part of Ausiello’s exclusive interview with Heigl is available online, but no need to fret I bought the magazine to get the full scoop so you don’t have to, so by all means use me, please…
It is no coincidence that as this hot story broke Shonda Rhimes took to…blogging? She guest blogged for The Ausiello Files about the major twists that are forthcoming in the season finale, she insists that this is the real “GAME. CHANGER” unlike those weak ones that everybody else claims to grab attention, hahaha I suppose its worth taking a gander.
Meanwhile, ABC Studios released the following statement: “By mutual agreement, Katherine Heigl has ended her successful run as Dr. Isobel Stevens. The studio wishes her well. Everyone at Grey’s Anatomy is now focused on delivering a shocking season finale and a great show for seasons to come.”
Heigl stated that the real reason she left was due to shifting priorities in her life after the adoption of her special needs daughter Naleigh whereby her busy career was preventing her from bonding with her daughter and becoming the mom she wants to be. Last year Heigl approached Shonda to let her know that she planned to adopt and warn her that she might be leaving the show. According to Heigl, they tried to work out a way that she could balance her family life and her career, “but at the end of the day, there wasn’t a great way to compromise the work schedule that didn’t negatively affect the crew or the cast.”During Heigl’s mid-season maternity leave from Grey’s, she spent three months focusing solely on her relationship with her daughter, during which time she realized that she no longer wanted to work full-time. Before she was due back she asked Shonda again to be let out of her contract early and this time she got what she wanted.
“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. 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.”
Heigl also came clean about her mistakes and admitted she needs to “filter” her opinions. Among the many controversies that contributed to Heigl’s perception as an “ungrateful diva” were the Emmy faux-pas and the 17 hour work-day complaint. Lets see what she had to say about those now that she is sans contract shall we…
In 2008, Heigl decided not to enter herself for Emmy consideration saying that the material she was working with that season didn’t merit a nomination (the season in question was season 4, when the most interesting part of her storyline was saving a dying deer). This prompted backlash from the writers, Shonda, viewers, everybody…In the interview she recognizes that her choice of words was less than ideal and she shouldn’t have publicly criticized the writers. She admitted to partially being self-conscious and “defensive” about her own performances that season, which wasn’t her best. Heigl told Ausiello that she realized she was being “obnoxious” and apologized to Shonda, who was very understanding. But that wasn’t the end of her beef with Shonda, the staff, and the execs at ABC…
Last year, Heigl made an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, during which she complained that the studio makes her work 17-hour days. In the EW interview, Heigl apologized for sounding “whiny” on Letterman. “I was really annoyed with myself after that one. Its okay to be passionate. It’s okay to have an opinion. But filter.” Heigl claims she was unaware of the fact that the 17-hour work days were necessary because she asked to take days off to do press for her hit romantic comedy The Ugly Truth. “Had I known that, I would not have asked for those three days off. I asked the entire crew–without really understanding that I was asking this–to work a 17-hour day. For [the crew] that is not a fair thing to ask. They get there an hour before us and they leave an hour after us. They work their asses off and they don’t get any of the accolades.”
Heigl told Ausiello she regretted coming across as ungrateful about her job at Grey’s and insisted that she is grateful for the amazing career opportunity and views her stint there positively. “Of course I’m grateful. How can I not be grateful? 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.” As much as some people may hate her, I love the fact that she recognizes how “gross” it is for people who have been blessed with successful careers to be ungrateful.
The one Grey’s controversy where Heigl’s outspokenness was met with praise was the Isaiah Washington/T.R. Knight scandal that resulted in Washington (Burke) getting fired. In 2006, Washington referred to Knight using a gay slur during an on-set altercation between himself and Patrick Dempsey, which prompted Knight to publicly come out. Washington brought up the issue again when he lied at the Golden Globes in 2007 insisting he didn’t use that word, at which point Heigl immediately criticized Washington for insulting Knight. Heigl told Ausiello she didn’t regret sticking up for her best friend. “He said I never could have embarassed him and that he was so grateful because no one had ever stood up for him that way before. So that is a proud moment for me and I don’t regret it…I think Isaiah just made a mistake. But I don’t think he’s evil or horrible or a bad person. I don’t wish him ill.”
What about the disastrous storyline that was Gizzie? “I was really excited about it in the beginning. When I found out our little nickname was Gizzie, I knew it was over. I was like ‘We’re going to have to move on because that’s not hot.'”
How does Heigl feel about the infamous character that made her a household name and launched her successful movie career?
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake [Izzie]. There were some moments when she said or did something silly that maybe I didn’t agree with, but 99 percent of the time I was really protective of her and I really loved her and I was really passionate about playing her. I’m going to miss her. And I’m going to create little stories in my mind about what Izzie went off to do, where she is, and who she keeps in contact with at the hospital.”
As for what is going to happen to Izzie (death seems to be looming overhead given her stage 4 cancer), Heigl has no idea but she is willing to return for a guest appearance if Shonda approves. “I’d love to come in and out at some point.” I hope for the sake of the show that Shonda takes her up on this offer because I can’t bear the idea of Izzie dropping off the face of the earth without a proper goodbye. Read my assessment from 2 weeks ago of how her off-screen departure would affect the other characters, the storyline, and the quality of the series (which btw is my absolute favorite show). Yes this was the longest blog entry ever but you know you loved it. Do you believe Heigl? Are you glad Izzie’s gone? Or does it suck?