Katherine Heigl opens up on 'Grey's Anatomy' exit: 'I started getting real mouthy'

Paging Dr. Izzie Stevens and Dr. Meredith Grey...

katherine heigl
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Katherine Heigl, who previously starred in 'Grey's Anatomy,' talked with Ellen Pompeo about her exit from the show and her experience navigating Hollywood in her 20s. 

Grey's Anatomy has been one of the longest-running and most beloved medical dramas of all time. Fans have certainly been taken through the wringer with all of the sharp plot twists that happen on the show - and Katherine Heigl, who played Dr. Izzie Stevens on the show, recently sat down to talk with Ellen Pompeo, who plays the fan favorite character Meredith Grey, to talk about their ups and downs while filming.

In a new episode of Variety's YouTube series Actors on Actors, the two Grey's Anatomy leading ladies sat down to discuss "all the things we weren’t going to say" about the show - AKA, it was a pretty juicy conversation. 

The most notable detail they explored was Katherine's controversial exit from the show in 2010 - an exit that, might we add, left fans pretty upset. 

"I would not trade anything for my 20s, but I absolutely had no idea who I was and what I wanted and who I was supposed to be and who to make happy," Katherine told Ellen. 

Katherine's role in Grey's became controversial in 2008 when she refused to submit herself for Emmy nominations due to her not feeling as though she "was given the material [that] season to warrant an Emmy nomination."

From there, some tension arose between Katherine and the show's creator, Shonda Rhimes (also of Bridgerton fame), until Katherine was released from her contract immediately. 

grey's anatomy addison

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Because of the overnight success the show received, Katherine remembers feeling thrust into a spotlight that she wasn't quite ready for at the time. 

"I think that gave me this confidence that was a false sense of confidence," she told Ellen. "It was rooted in something that couldn’t and maybe wouldn’t always last for me. So then I started getting real mouthy, because I did have a lot to say, and there were certain boundaries and things that I was not OK with being crossed. I didn’t know how to fight that."

Ellen agreed with Katherine, saying that she felt as though her voice wasn't heard throughout her career due to the fact that she is a woman. "They don’t want women to have a voice. They don’t want women to have control because they know that we can do it better than they can," she said. 

Katherine said, overall, she didn't expect people to be concerned by her reactions or behavior at the time of her exit but can look back and see that she felt as though she was being "naive."

"It’s really disconcerting when you feel like you have really displeased everybody. It was not my intention to do so, but I had some things to say, and I didn’t think I was going to get such a strong reaction," she said. 

Madeline Merinuk
US Lifestyle News Writer

Madeline Merinuk is woman&home's US lifestyle news writer, covering celebrity, entertainment, fashion, and beauty news.

She graduated in 2021 with a B.A. in Journalism from Hofstra University, winning multiple student journalism awards, including a National Hearst Award, during her time there. After graduating, she worked at today.com, the digital site for the Today Show, where she wrote pop culture news and interviewed big-name personalities like Emily Ratajkowski, Haley Lu Richardson, Emma Corrin, and more.

Her personal interests, in no particular order, are: cheese, Joni Mitchell, reading, hot yoga, traveling, having multiple chapsticks in every handbag at all times, and dancing to ABBA songs as if she were in the Mamma Mia movies.