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Katherine Heigl earned a reputation for being difficult years ago when she spoke her mind, but her 27 Dresses co-star James Marsden thinks people got it all wrong about her. Heigl shared the experience of being labeled “difficult” in a new interview with The Washington Post.

James Marsden at the Los Angeles Season 2 premiere of WESTWORLD in 2018
James Marsden | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

Katherine Heigl reflected on being called ‘difficult’

Heigl found that her opinions got her in trouble and she was labeled difficult to work with. While she admitted that some of her comments weren’t well-received, she shared that, with the benefit of hindsight, earning that negative reputation doesn’t sit right with her now.

“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,’” Heigl explained to Washington Post “What is your definition of difficult? Somebody with an opinion that you don’t like? Now, I’m 42, and that sh*t pisses me off.”

She tried to do damage control by apologizing but that made things worse. “The more terrified and scared I was of doing something wrong, the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong,” she explained.

James Marsden defended Katherine Heigl

Heigl’s 27 Dresses co-star Marsden has stayed firmly in her corner, explaining that she has “strength of character,” sharing how the “difficult” reputation wasn’t fair.

“She has very strong convictions and strong opinions on certain things, and she doesn’t back down from letting you know if she feels like she’s been wronged in any way,” Marsden explained. “I’ve always seen that as just strength of character.”

He added, “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.”

Marsden shared that Heigl’s strong convictions and drive are commendable. “One element of Katie that I’ve always thought would define her was her drive,” Marsden noted. “I never thought that she was going to be one that idles well. She’s not going to sit there. She’s going to take control and do it her way.”


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Katherine Heigl suffered from anxiety after earning that negative reputation

In the interview, Heigl revealed the way her mental health was impacted by being perceived as a difficult person. “I think my family, my mother, my husband, my friends were scared. And I regret deeply that I scared them like that,” the actor shared. “But I just couldn’t control it. I had no tools.”

Realizing that she needed to find the right tools to manage her mental health, she explained, “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.”

“I didn’t realize how much anxiety I was living with until I got so bad that I had to really seek help,” she continued.

Along the way, Heigl came to accept that it’s OK to pursue her ambitions and goals, while cutting herself a bit of slack as well. “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,” Heigl said. “It’s easier to be happy because I have a little more gentleness for myself.”