Katherine Heigl made not-so-flattering headlines in 2008 when she declined Emmy consideration for her work on Grey’s Anatomy. During a Wednesday appearance on The Howard Stern Show, the actress attempted to clarify and explain the decision, admitting that she wishes she had handled it differently.
“I wasn’t feeling good about my work that season, no,” Heigl said. “And what you have to do as an actor if you want to get nominated is you have to submit your work … and that year I said, ‘I’m not going to submit; I can’t find anything I feel good about.'”
Heigl’s decision not to enter the Emmys race became a highly publicized controversy at the time, particularly because she had won the the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Dr. Izzie Stevens for the show’s third season the year prior.
“There was a part of me that thought, because I had won the year before, that I needed juicy, dramatic, emotional material, and I just didn’t have that that season,” Heigl explained, although careful to not blame the writers by adding, “I think there were 12 series regulars on that show, and everybody deserved their juicy, dramatic, emotional season. I’m not a writer, but I imagine it must be very difficult to do that for everybody.”
When the story that she was eschewing Emmy consideration blew up, Heigl said that she was “really embarrassed” and personally apologized to Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Shonda Rhimes.
“I was really embarrassed, so I went in to Shonda and said, ‘I’m so sorry, that wasn’t cool; I should not have said that,'” Heigl recounted. “I shouldn’t have said anything publicly, but at the time I didn’t think anybody would notice; I didn’t think that journalists would see who submitted and who didn’t. I just quietly didn’t submit. And then it became a story and then I felt I was obligated to make my statement.”
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Unfortunately for Heigl, the media never stopped paying close attention to her, more often reporting on her in a negative tone than not, and the actress soon gained a reputation for being difficult. Heigl told Stern that this negative public perception of her made her feel like “the biggest piece of s— on the bottom of your shoe,” and caused her to remain silent on film and TV sets rather than speak up for herself.
“I remember doing this little independent movie and just afraid to say anything about anything,” Heigl recalled. “I remember wearing shoes a size too small because I was afraid to tell wardrobe that they weren’t big enough, because I didn’t want to be difficult.”
Hear snippets of Heigl’s Howard Stern Show interview below.