Katherine Heigl Recalls Thinking She'd "Rather Be Dead" After "Difficult" Label Ruined Her Reputation

In a new interview with The Washington Post, Katherine Heigl addressed her self-described “shunning” from Hollywood and the impact it had on her mental health.

By Cydney Contreras Jan 28, 2021 10:14 PMTags

Years after she gained a reputation for being difficult to work with, Katherine Heigl is taking on the court of public opinion.

The actress confronts what she called Hollywood's "shunning" in a new interview with The Washington Post, admitting that the immense criticism once made her feel like she "would rather be dead." 

As Katherine recalls, the public's impression of her changed when she began to speak her mind about the projects she worked on. She explains, "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'... What is your definition of difficult? Somebody with an opinion that you don't like? Now, I'm 42, and that s--t pisses me off."

The more Katherine apologized for speaking negatively about her experience starring in projects like Knocked Up and Grey's Anatomy, "the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong."

Grey's Anatomy: Epic Romances

Her 27 Dresses co-star James Marsden told WaPo that she really did have good intentions at the time, explaining, "She has very strong convictions and strong opinions on certain things, and she doesn't back down from you know if she feels like she's been wrong in any way." 

But James said he doesn't believe Katherine deserved such harsh backlash. "I've always seen that as just strength of character," he explained. "I can see how that can get construed as being difficult or ungrateful or whatever. But if you know Katie, it's simply because she has the courage to stand behind something she believes."

Likewise, her husband, Josh Kelley, said that he thinks "she'd be a hero" if history repeated itself today, rather than 10 years ago. 

Frank Ockenfels/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Even so, Katherine said she faced unexpected consequences for her actions. The Grey's Anatomy actress thought her reputation wouldn't matter as long as the movies she starred in were profitable. As she put it, "You can be the most awful, difficult, horrible person on the planet, but if you're making them money, they're going to keep hiring you."

But, as she noted, the projects that followed the success of 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth didn't "make quite as much money."

Becoming a pariah in Hollywood inflicted major damage on Katherine's mental health.

"I think my family, my mother, my husband, my friends were scared. And I regret deeply that I scared them like that," she recalled. "But I just couldn't control it. I had no tools."

It was only in the years after welcoming her son, Joshua Jr., that the star was ready to confront her weakened emotional state. Katherine revealed, "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."

Katherine Heigl/Instagram

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. You can do a lot of inner soul work, but I'm a big fan of Zoloft."

And with time, Katherine said that she's learned to have "a little more gentleness" with herself. She shared, "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."