‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Katherine Heigl Found It ‘So Hard’ to Work With Shonda Rhimes

On ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Katherine Heigl portrayed Dr. Isobel “Izzie” Stevens. For years, the actor’s sudden departure from the show remained speculated by fans. After exiting the show, Heigl was labeled a “difficult” person to work in Hollywood. But, there might be more to the story behind her unexpected departure from the medical drama.

Katherine Heigl’s sudden exit from ABC’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ shocked fans

The 'Grey's Anatomy' cast is wearing white and blue scrubs.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ cast | Frank Ockenfels/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

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In the new tell-all book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, Entertainment Weekly editor Lynette Rice talked to numerous anonymous sources about Katherine Heigl’s sudden exit.

According to Insider, one source suggested that Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes felt she was to blame for Heigl leaving the show. In addition, the person said Rhimes “felt like the star of the show and resented that the actors were becoming stars of their own.”

At the time, many people felt that Heigl left the medical drama to pursue other acting opportunities. However, the source suggested that wasn’t the case. In fact, the book revealed that Heigl found it challenging to work with Rhimes and ultimately left the show. “It had nothing to do with her film career,” the source told Rice. “She wanted out because it was so hard working with Shonda.”

A former ABC Studios executive suggested that Heigl could have stayed on Grey’s Anatomy. But, the show couldn’t orchestrate “a great way to compromise the work schedule that didn’t negatively affect the crew or the cast.” The unnamed source added, “I think Steve McPherson and Shonda were just so fed up with it all, they just said, ‘Get her [Heigl] out.’”

Heigl regrets the controversy with ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ writers

Before her exit, Heigl made headlines for remarks made toward Rhimes and the Grey’s Anatomy writers. In 2008, the actor withdrew her name from the Emmy nominations. In a past interview with Entertainment Weekly, Heigl revealed that she didn’t feel worthy of an Emmy. “I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination,” she said at the time. “In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actor who was given such materials.”

In the tell-all book, Heigl regretted her past comments. The actor felt that she could have “handled the situation more gracefully” and privately addressed the Grey’s Anatomy crew.

Additionally, she spoke about the past remarks made on The Late Show With David Letterman. In 2009, Heigl appeared on the talk show and detailed the alleged poor working conditions on the medical drama. 

The actor told the host, “Our first day back was Wednesday. 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.” While discussing the incident, Heigl told Rice that she felt “embarrassed” after the Letterman show. 

What is Katherine Heigl doing now?

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After leaving the medical drama, Katherine Heigl’s acting career was pretty stagnant. However, her career is experiencing a resurgence. For instance, she played the lead role in NBC’s State of Affairs from 2014 to 2015. Also, she currently stars in the Netflix series Firefly Lane. According to Marie Claire, the streaming giant renewed the drama series for a second season. There is no official release date for the new season. But, it is expected to return in 2022. 

Until then, the first season of Firefly Lane is streaming now on Netflix.