Ellen Pompeo Defends Katherine Heigl 12 Years Later

Heigl's comments on Grey's Anatomy negatively affected her career.

Ellen Pompeo comes to Katherine Heigl’s defense, calling her “ahead of her time,” when Heigl spoke out about “insane” 17-hour days on Grey’s Anatomy 12 years ago.

Pompeo discussed with co-star Kate Walsh on her Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo podcast about Katherine’s controversial comments for the first time in 12 years.

During the latest episode of the podcast, Ellen recalled the early days of the medical drama and how the cast and crew would work “crazy, crazy hours”. Katherine Heigl infamously referenced to that situation on Late Night with David Letterman, a year before she left the series after six seasons. “I remember Heigl said something on a talk show about the insane hours we were working,” Ellen recalled. “And she was 100 percent right.”


In 2009 Heigl defined Grey’s Anatomy’s working conditions “cruel and mean.” She added at the time, “I’m gonna keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them.” The incident, along with withdrawing her name from Emmy consideration because she thought the show’s writing wasn’t up to par, changed the trajectory of her career as she was soon labeled “difficult” and “unprofessional,” per THR.

Ellen Pompeo Defends Katherine Heigl

“Had she said that today, she’d be a complete hero,” Ellen said on her podcast. “But she’s ahead of her time, made a statement about our crazy hours and, of course, let’s slam a woman and call her ungrateful when the truth is she’s 100 percent honest, and it’s absolutely correct what she said.”

Heigl had sparked backlash and was labelled “ungrateful” after publicly saying during an interview on The David Letterman Show in 2009 that the working conditions on the drama series were “cruel”.

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“Our first day back was Wednesday and it was – I’m gonna keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them – a 17-hour day, which I think is cruel and mean,” she said at the time.

Heigl was portrayed as difficult to work with as a result, leading to her career being negatively affected.

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