Ellen Pompeo says Katherine Heigl was right to complain about long Grey’s Anatomy work days

Heigl called out show for making her work 17-hour days, years before she was ‘blacklisted’ from Hollywood

Isobel Lewis
Thursday 21 April 2022 16:28
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Ellen Pompeo has said that Katherine Heigl was “ahead of her time” for complaining about long working hours on Grey’s Anatomy.

In 2009, Heigl used an appearance on The David Letterman Show to call out the medical drama after working a 17-hour day, saying: “I’m gonna keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them.”

It was later claimed that Heigl was blacklisted from Hollywood for being “difficult” and “unprofessional”.

During Wednesday’s episode (20 April) of her podcast Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo, the actor came to Heigl’s defence, saying that it was “f***ing ballsy” of her to speak out.

“I remember Heigl said something on a talk show about the insane hours we were working and she was 100 per cent right,” the actor said.

“Had she said that today, she’d be a complete hero.”

Pompeo continued: “But she’s ahead of her time. [She] made a statement about our crazy hours and, of course, let’s slam a woman and call her ungrateful.”

Pompeo (left) and Heigl (second from right) with the cast of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in 2007

Heigl played Izzie Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy from 2005 to 2010, earning an Emmy for the role in 2007.

When she was nominated again in 2008, she chose to opt out of the race, saying: “I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination.”

However, after Heigl left the show amid allegations of clashes with executives (including showrunner Shonda Rhimes), a producer told The Hollywood Reporter that it was “not worth” working with her due to her reported behaviour.

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Last year, Heigl spoke out about being blacklisted from Hollywood, saying it had a serious impact on her mental health.

“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.

She added: “At the time, I was just quickly told to shut the f*** up. The more I said I was sorry, the more they wanted it. The more terrified and scared I was of doing something wrong, the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong.”

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