Emmy Award-winning actress Katherine Heigl stopped by The Howard Stern Show on Wednesday for the first time to discuss a host of topics. During the wide-ranging conversation, Heigl revealed how the scrutiny she’s received during her career has affected her.
Heigl rose to fame in 2005 when she was cast as Dr. Izzie Stevens in the ABC show Grey’s Anatomy. The following year she starred alongside Seth Rogen in the comedy Knocked Up, directed by Judd Apatow. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Heigl called the film “a little sexist” and criticized the depiction of her character. After winning an Emmy in 2007 for her role in Grey’s Anatomy, Heigl chose not to submit her work for award-consideration the following year, feeling that her performance that season wasn’t adequate enough because she wasn’t given strong material to work with.
These incidents led to Heigl being portrayed as a difficult actress to work with and affected her standing within the industry as directors and producers grew hesitant to work with her. The scrutiny got to her so much that she chose to go to therapy to try to overcome how badly she felt about herself.
“I had never done therapy before until a couple years ago, and I started going because of the scrutiny and I was not handling it well,” Heigl said. “I was feeling completely like the biggest piece of s–t on the bottom of your shoe. I was really struggling with it and how to not take it all really personally and not to feel like there’s something deeply wrong with me.”
Heigl had resorted to censoring herself and tiptoeing around others to try not to come off as a “difficult” actress.
“I remember doing this little independent movie and just being afraid to say anything about anything,” she explained. “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. After that I was like, ‘This is nonsense, stop it. Get some help and own your voice.’”
Heigl said she is still wary of talking to the media because of how her words might get misconstrued.
“They’ve said that to me like, ‘Give us something juicy, Katherine, we like how open you are and how honest you are.’ And I’m like, ‘No, you just want me to f–k up,’” she said.
Heigl called the industry criticism “anxiety-inducing,” and said her therapy helped her overcome that but stated she only went to therapy five times in her life. The sessions helped her realize that how she feels about herself is more important than her portrayal in the industry.
“For me it’s a lot of just wanting to be able to sleep at night,” she said. “I don’t want to compromise who I am and what I have to say so much that I go to bed going, ‘I’ve just become a robot, now I just do everything they want me to and say everything they tell me to say.’ That isn’t me.”
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