What happened to Katherine Heigl?

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Katherine Heigl’s flourishing acting career notoriously took a turn for the worse in 2007 when the outspoken actress released a slew of unsavory public comments. The former apple of Hollywood’s eye was labeled “difficult” to work with and has since then faded into the background. Now, after all these years, we can’t help but wonder what Heigl has been up to since.

Recently, the 43-year-old actress opened up to The Washington Post about life after her very public “shunning,” all of which began in 2007 when she called the popular comedy Knocked Up ⏤ which she starred in alongside Seth Rogan ⏤ “a little sexist.” She went on the record with Vanity Fair, saying the film “…paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys… It was hard for me to love the movie.” 

Was Heigl completely wrong? The 2022 versions of ourselves would likely say no. But that didn’t stop Seth Rogan from getting his feelings hurt. In 2016, almost a decade after Heigl’s public comment, Rogan told the Hollywood Reporter, “I respect the fact that perhaps she realizes that it has hurt her career, and I don’t want that to have happened to her at all because I’ve said a thousand stupid things and I really like her… For other people to not work with her because she didn’t like her experience with us is — I think is crazy.”

It was from this Vanity Fair interview in 2007 that opinions about Heigl began to form, such as her being pegged as “difficult.” In that same interview, Heigl called her Grey’s Anatomy character Izzie Stevens’ storyline “a ratings ploy,” which naturally didn’t sit well with the creators and writers of the show. 

Heigl added fuel to the fire in 2008 when she turned down an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Stevens because, as she told Insider, “I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination… I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.” 

If the writers of Grey’s Anatomy hadn’t had their feelings hurt the first time around, they definitely did now. Keep in mind that Heigl won an Emmy for her role as Stevens the year before, so naturally, Shonda Rhimes ⏤ the showrunner, creator, head writer, and executive producer of Grey’s ⏤ was offended by the comment. Rhimes went on record years later saying that “no Heigls” were allowed on the set of Scandal. Ouch. 

If that wasn’t enough, Heigl made a cringe-worthy appearance on Late Show with David Lettermen in 2009 (a year after pulling her name from the Emmys) where she made several more eyebrow-raising comments. When asked by Letterman about how it felt to be back filming Grey’s Anatomy after the break between seasons, Heigl said, “Our first day back was Wednesday, and 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.” 

Needless to say, the comment did not go over well. 

Heigl’s public comments and outspoken nature ended up hindering her ability to snag future roles she otherwise would’ve been a shoo-in for. The few films she did star in post-2009 received less than satisfactory ratings, namely Killers (10 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and Life As We Know It (29 percent). While Rotten Tomatoes does not indicate the financial performance of a film, it does showcase the shift in both audience and critical opinion of Heigl as well as the roles she was being given, especially following the success of her prior films such as 27 Dresses and Knocked Up

So what’s Katherine Heigl up to now?

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Heigl’s roles since the late 2000s have included television shows such as State of Affairs and Doubt, which did not perform well and did not go beyond one season. She also starred in a few other films that didn’t necessarily tank, but also didn’t soar, such as the 2012 film One for the Money.

TV seems to be the best place for Heigl right now. She’s one of the executive producers and the titular star of the new Netflix show Firefly Lane based on the Kristin Hannah book of the same name. The show depicts the lifelong friendship between Tully (Heigl) and Kate (Sarah Chalke) over the course of 30 years of ups and downs. While Heigl does star in the show, she said to The Washington Post, “I spent a lot of years just being the actor hired. I feel now I have enough experience and enough wisdom to have a voice, to collaborate about character, about story, about cast.”

Heigl has come a long way since 2007. As is often the case with hindsight, we can’t help but wonder if we, the public and Hollywood, dulled out fair treatment to her back in those earlier years. With increasing public awareness about the often unfair treatment of women in the public eye, it’s hard not to feel a tinge of guilt about how things went down. Heigl is a bold woman who is unafraid of sharing her opinions. She does not fit into the demure, polite, and accommodating box that society often places women in. And one thing is for sure: she’s not backing down. 

“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 to The Washington Post. “What is your definition of difficult? Somebody with an opinion that you don’t like? Now, I’m 42, and that s— pisses me off.”

Heigl is slated to executive produce and star in the upcoming limited series Woodhull about the first woman to ever run for president. There has been no official word on the release date of the series, nor any additional news since early 2021.