Katherine Heigl is reflecting on her comments made 12 years ago about the allegedly harsh working conditions on the set of Grey’s Anatomy.
In a new Instagram post endorsing the IATSE strike — which is currently seeing many Hollywood stars rallying in support of fair working conditions for all crew members within TV and film production — the 42-year-old actor shared a lengthy caption recalling her past remarks about the apparent difficulties that she and her team members had to endure on set.
“Some of you may remember over ten years ago I was very vocal about the absurdity of the working hours crews and actors were being forced into by production,” she wrote on Instagram. “Even Diane Sawyer interviewed me and not so kindly informed me ‘no one feels sorry for you.’ I very publicly and for many many years after got my ass kicked for speaking up.”
“We are making entertainment,” she continued. “We are not solving world hunger or curing cancer. We are telling stories. When production plows into hour 14 and beyond they are asking our crews to drive themselves home bone tired.”
Katherine — who portrayed Dr. Izzie Stevens on the medical drama — went on to claim that numerous people have found themselves in risky circumstances or sustaining injury as a result of exhaustion due to the harsh working conditions on set.
“The number of people who have fallen asleep at the wheel is staggering,” she wrote. “The number of accidents that happen on set due to exhaustion are shocking. Illness both mental and physical is off the charts. There is nothing glamorous or sexy about working past the point of exhaustion.”
“When I first spoke up I was speaking on behalf of myself and my crew on Grey’s,” she went on. “Today things are a little different for me. I am in the fortunate position of being able to say no. To turn down a job if it requires more then I can bear. And in all honesty…I’ve kind of aged out of giving a shit if I piss people off by creating boundaries that protect my health, sanity and work.”
Katherine added: “So this post is not for me. It is for the crew. It is for my family from another mother. It is for the champions and support systems and talented bad asses that I have the privilege of working with. I stand with IATSE. It is time for reasonable and fair work conditions, wages and hours to be more then just a priority they need to be the norm. Period. To all the crews on all the sets all over this great big world of ours. I support you. I stand with you. I thank you. Not one show. Not one movie. Can exist without you.”
Katherine’s recent Instagram post refers to the comments she made during an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman in 2009, regarding the alleged working conditions on Grey’s Anatomy. At the time, she told the host: “Our first day back was Wednesday. It was — I'm going to keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them — a 17-hour day, which I think is cruel and mean.”
And Katherine had also caused a stir a year prior, after withdrawing herself from contention for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama at the 2008 Emmys — something which quickly became a highly publicized controversy after it was deemed a dig at the show’s producers.
“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 said in a statement at the time. “In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.”
Just last week, the actor opened up about her decision to withdraw herself from the award show’s consideration, reflecting on how she handled what was later labeled a “snub” — especially in light of the fact that she’d won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress the previous year.
“I thought I was doing the right thing. And I wanted to be clear that I wasn’t snubbing the Emmys,” she explained. “The night I won 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]."
“I could have more gracefully said that without going into a private work matter,” she continued. “It was between me and the writers. I ambushed them, and it wasn’t very nice or fair.”
And it wasn't just Katherine’s 2009 remarks about Grey’s Anatomy that led to her facing backlash. The actor was also at the center of public scrutiny the year prior, when she called the 2007 movie Knocked Up — in which she starred alongside Seth Rogen — “a little sexist.”
“It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys,” she said at the time. “It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I’m playing such a bitch; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you’re portraying women? Ninety-eight percent of the time it was an amazing experience, but it was hard for me to love the movie.”
Katherine’s response to the movie not only led to her being deemed "ungrateful," but also caused a feud between her and Seth. At the time, Seth called her remarks “hypocritical” considering the premise of her movie The Ugly Truth, which was released the following year. Years later, he explained that his trust had been “somewhat betrayed” after reading her comments.
“People seemed to like [the movie],” Seth said. “We were funny together. I was having a really good time, and then when I heard afterward that she didn’t like it, that she seemed to not like the process, and she did not like the end product either, I think when that happens — also your trust feels somewhat betrayed.”
Earlier this year, Katherine opened up about how being labeled “difficult” and “unprofessional” as a result of her past comments has impacted her, revealing that she had to “really seek help” because of her severe anxiety in an interview with the Washington Post.
“I may have said a couple of things you didn't like, but then that escalated to ‘she's ungrateful,’ then that escalated to ‘she's difficult,’ and that escalated to ‘she's unprofessional,’” she said at the time. “What is your definition of difficult? Somebody with an opinion that you don't like? Now, I'm 42, and that shit pisses me off.”
“At the time, I was quickly told to shut the fuck up. The more I said I was sorry, the more they wanted it,” she continued. “The more terrified and scared I was of doing something wrong, the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong.”
“I asked my mom and my husband to find me somewhere to go that could help me because I felt like I would rather be dead,” she continued. “I didn't realize how much anxiety I was living with until I got so bad that I had to really seek help.”
However, Katherine went on to share that she has done a lot of “inner soul work” and has adopted more “gentleness” for herself.
“I’ve grown into accepting that ambition is not a dirty word, and that it doesn't make me less of a feminine, loving, nurturing woman to be ambitious and have big dreams and big goals," she added. "It's easier to be happy because I have a little more gentleness for myself.”