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Katherine Heigl recalls how those “she’s difficult” comments caused severe anxiety

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Hollie Richardson
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Katherine Heigl

27 Dresses star Katherine Heigl just explained what really happened when we stopped seeing her in romcoms…

Following her breakthrough role in Grey’s Anatomy, Katherine Heigl went on to star in beloved romcoms including 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth. But what happened after that? 

The actor has just opened up about being “shunned” in Hollywood after a string of stories claimed she was “difficult” to work with. She also talked about how it led to her experiencing “severe anxiety” and seeking help. 

In a world where confident and ambitious who know what they want are so easily labelled as “difficult”, it’s important to listen to her story.

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“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’,” Heigel told The Washington Post. “What is your definition of difficult? Somebody with an opinion that you don’t like? 

“Now, I’m 42, and that shit pisses me off.” 

Heigel’s words are in response to several instances in her career that made headlines: she abstained from the Emmys in 2008 because she did not feel that she was “given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination”; she complained about working 17-hour days on Grey’s Anatomy; she called her 2007 comedy Knocked Up “a little sexist”. 

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While Heigl didn’t mention these examples directly, she continued: “At the time, I was just quickly told to shut the fuck 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.” 

27 Dresses
27 Dresses star Katherine Heigl says Hollywood "shunned" her for being "difficult".

Explaining that she felt “shunned” in Hollywood, Heigl added: “I knew that whatever they felt I had done that was so awful, they would overlook it if I made them money – but then my films started to make not quite as much money.”

Reflecting on how this affected her mental health and led her to take anti-depressants, she said: “I didn’t realise how much anxiety I was living with until I got so bad that I had to really seek help.”

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But Heigl says she is now in a place where she feels more in control of her career, and she is an executive producer on Netflix’s new series Firefly Lane.

“I spent a lot of years just being the actor hired,” Hiegl said. “I feel now I have enough experience and enough wisdom to have a voice to collaborate about character, about story, about cast.

“It’s about having a seat at the table.”

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Images: Getty, 20th Century Fox

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…