For better or worse, Katherine Heigl's career will never be the same.
Several years ago, the actress was poised to become the next big movie star, thanks to comedies like 27 Dresses and Knocked Up. And then…she opened her mouth. Heigl wasn't afraid to discuss taboo topics like sexism in Hollywood, and she openly criticized the writing she was given on ABC's Grey's Anatomy.
While her candor was refreshing, it was also polarizing—and the media was quick to dismiss the actress.
To their dismay, Heigl continued to work in film, starring in and executive producing 2009's The Ugly Truth (opposite Gerard Butler) and 2010's Life As We Know It (opposite Josh Duhamel), among others. At the same time, many critics picked the actress' projects (and relative interviews) apart like vultures.
It was a tough time to be Heigl.
"The thing that was my best friend for a long time suddenly turned on me," Heigl says of acting in Marie Claire UK's August issue. "And I didn't expect it. I was taken by surprise and angry at it for betraying me."
Heigl accepts partial blame, saying she did too many romantic comedies and neglected serious roles.
"I had an amazing time," says Heigl, 35, who's an Emmy Award winner and married mother of two. "I love romantic comedies. But maybe I hit it a little too hard. I couldn't say no. I stopped challenging myself. It became a bit by rote and, as a creative person, that can wear you down. That was part of why I took that time off, to ask myself, 'What do I want? What am I looking for?' and shut down all the noise."
At one point, Heigl came to close to walking away from Hollywood for good.
"Oh yeah, I had a moment where, I don't know, I was thinking I'd maybe open a knitting store, get my money out of retirement accounts and live off that, live off the land," the Utah-based actress tells the magazine. "I had my moment where it all seemed so complicated and all I wanted to do was simplify."
The humbled star returns to TV this fall in NBC's State of Affairs, in which she plays a CIA analyst. It's the first time she'll appear on the small screen since leaving Grey's Anatomy in 2010 (aside from Nyquil ads).
Why come back? "There's a part of me that's a Hollywood animal as well. I can't wait to get into the writer's room and see how we do this," she says. "I feel like I'm finally rolling into the next phase of my adulthood."
To read the feature in full, see the August issue of Marie Claire UK, out now.
The magazine is also available as digital edition through Apple Newsstand.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)