Isaiah Washington may be done with rehab, but Katherine Heigl isn't done talking about what put him there. This time, though, she's being a lot more complimentary.
For the first time since Washington completed his stint in residential treatment, Heigl spoke out about her costar's return to the set and the process of getting back to "work as usual."
While appearing on Good Morning America Thursday, Heigl offered tentative praise for Washington, who, sources told E! Online, was due back on the Grey's Anatomy set late last week after completing a weeklong stint in "rehab" for directing a nearly career-killing homophobic slur at costar T.R. Knight.
"I, obviously, have been very verbal about all of this, but there isn't a lot going on right now," Heigl, who has publicly defended Knight and blasted Washington, told the ABC morning show. "We're all hopeful...It's a great group of people, and we work really well together. We work really hard, and it's unusual that we do get along as well as we do."
Washington first entered an undisclosed facility on Jan. 23, a week after he made headlines by saying "I never called T.R. a faggot," following the show's Golden Globe win for Best Drama Series. Washington was referring to an onset incident last October, in which he and Patrick Dempsey reportedly got into an argument and Washington referred to Knight as a "faggot." Shortly after the incident, Knight made the decision to come out.
The Golden Globes remark immediately drew criticism from cast members, including Knight and Heigl, both of whom disputed Washington's denial, as well as his bosses at ABC and gay-rights advocates.
Within days, Washington released a statement commending his costar's "courage" and "tremendous character" throughout the saga; the embattled actor also met with GLAAD president Neil Giuliano to reach out to the gay and lesbian community before entering rehab.
At the time, Washington actor said the treatment—which included anger-management sessions and psychological examination—was a "necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again." While he is no longer an overnight guest at the center, his publicist has confirmed that the actor will continue outpatient treatment, though for how long and in what capacity is unknown.
Heigl applauded the move.
"If it were ignored or just brushed under the rug, I would be angrier about it," she said. "But he's trying very hard. We're all trying very hard."
After Washington entered treatment, series creator Shonda Rhimes issued a statement both encouraging the actor's decision to tackle his "behavioral issues" and admonishing his use of a "disturbing word...that insulted not only gays and lesbians everywhere but anyone who has ever struggled for respect in a world that is not always accepting of difference."
A rep for ABC and Touchstone Television, the show's producer, said executives were working toward finding an appropriate way of addressing the situation—which, under Disney's corporate nondiscrimination policy could be considered grounds for dismissal.
Still, there has been no official word on the long-term fate of Washington and his Grey's alter ego, Dr. Preston Burke. Washington's publicist has made it clear the actor wants to remain on active duty at Seattle Grace.
In any event, while Washington was getting counseling, he and his cast mates were getting the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series.
He got a shout-out from Best Female Actor winner Chandra Wilson, who thanked "the other one in rehab" during her acceptance speech, and Ellen Pompeo, who name-checked Washington while accepting for Best Ensemble, albeit with slight prodding from the rest of the cast.