Katherine Heigl: The Full Grey's Anatomy Exit Interview

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Yesterday, Katherine Heigl confirmed her exit from Grey's Anatomy.

Today, she's expounding on the subject in much greater detail, with her typical candor. There's not a lot we can add to this saga after all this time, and your opinions on the actress' departure aren't likely to be swayed by her comments to Entertainment Weekly.

Just the same, we've posted portions of the interview below. When it comes to one of the original Grey's Anatomy cast members leaving, we'll let her do the talking.

EW: The plan was for you to return to the set on March 1 and stick around through the end of the current season. But you didn’t show up on March 1. Why?

Katherine Heigl: I went on my family leave and spent three months in Utah and just got to be a mom, and it changed my whole perspective… That was really the turning point for me.

So before I was due back, I spoke again to Shonda about wanting to leave. Then I waited at home until I was given the formal okay that I was off the show.

The rumors that I refused to return were totally untrue.

Katherine H. Photo

Katherine Heigl is gone, but will not soon be forgotten.

EW: Would you describe it as an amicable parting?

Katherine Heigl: Yeah, I think so. I think that it was a little bit shocking for everybody, and a little bit like, “Can’t we find a way to work it out?” And I really wanted to, but at the same time I just strongly felt like I couldn’t sacrifice my relationship with my child.

Naleigh and I will always be a little bit complicated. I really had to work on bonding with her because I was obsessed with her, but she could really do without me. [Laughs] It was really hard because she loved Josh so much but she just kind of tolerated me. And I want this child to know that she will forever have me in her corner and I don’t want to disappoint her. [Fighting back tears] And even though I know I’m disappointing the fans, and I know I’m disappointing the writers and my fellow cast members and the crew, I just had to make a choice. I hope I made the right one. It sucks. You wish you could have it all exactly the way you want it. But that’s not life. I had to try to find the courage to move on. And I am sad. And I’m scared. But I felt it was the right thing to do; we just didn’t quite know how to do it appropriately, gracefully, and respectfully to the audience. And I think we all felt it wasn’t respectful to the audience to bring [Izzie] back again and then have her [leave] again. We did it twice this season. It starts to feel a little manipulative.

EW: In 2008, you announced that you decided not to enter yourself in the Emmy race because, you said “I did not feel I was given the material this season to warrant a nomination.” Any regrets about making that statement?

Katherine Heigl: Yes. [Laughs]

EW: Why?

Katherine Heigl: You know… At the time I thought I was doing the right thing. And I wanted to be clear that I wasn’t snubbing the Emmys. The night I won [in 2007] was the highlight of my career. I just was afraid that if I said, “No comment,” it was going to come off like I couldn’t be bothered to [enter the race]. But really, I could have more gracefully said that without going into a private work matter. It was between me and the writers. I ambushed them, and it wasn’t very nice or fair.

EW: That statement, and the one you made on Letterman, combined with the fact that you’re leaving the show before your contract is up, have fostered a perception of you as an ungrateful diva. Are you aware that is how some people view you?

Katherine Heigl: Yes. The ungrateful thing bothers me the most. And that is my fault. I allowed myself to be perceived that way because I was being whiny and I was griping and because I made these snarky comments. So much about living life, to me, is about humility and gratitude. And I’ve tried very hard to have those qualities and be that person and I’m just so disappointed in myself that I allowed it to slip. Of course, of course I’m grateful. How can I not be grateful? I have been afforded such a wonderful life. And to have come this far and to have this kind of success and the freedom and the choices it allows me… The fact that I could even have Naleigh in my life - adoption isn’t cheap - is something to be so unbelievably grateful for. I am disappointed in myself for allowing that perception to exist… There’s nothing more gross than [the idea of] somebody in my position being ungrateful… And I hope that in the coming years I can change people’s minds about that. The six years [I spent on Grey’s Anatomy] were important years, and I don’t want them to be demeaned. And that’s another reason why I’m so annoyed with myself. I let myself demean something that was actually very beautiful and very important. Like any job, there are ups and downs. But I don’t want to demean what that experience was. I don’t want it to become about this negativity that I’ve spewed.

How do you feel about Katherine's exit from Grey's Anatomy?

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


As a fan from the very beginning, I only have one word to say: SAD!!! :(


I WANT IZZIE BACK!! I don't care abt. KH statments, mistakes, excuses, humility and gratitude blabla. Even if she would be a big bitch, who cares?? As Izzie she did a great job and gave us some nice moments at night, allowing to hide from our own crapy lives, invoices and stupid bosses. Who cares if she hated the job, do we all love ours? Katherine come back to GA, your movies are not really good. Or at least go for good movies. We know you can more than these boring characters. I'll def. will miss Izzie Stevens


what about alex?


Well I'll always be sad that Izzie is gone since she is/was my favourite character on the show. Plus I can't imagine Alex with anyone else right now. (Personally I think Alex/Lexie is kinda gross.) Maybe in the future I can, but not right now. But I understand Katherine Heigl's reasons for leaving. I believe she's sorry for her past comments too. People make mistakes all the time, after all, and then regret their decisions or words. =/ I don't believe she wanted to leave for years and is now just using her daughter as an excuse. If she really wanted to leave GA, she could have EASILY done that at the end of last season when Izzie flatlined. It would be easy for her and the writers wouldn't be in such a fix to wrap up her character's story either. Oh well. GA isn't as good as it used to be anyway. The only reason I still continue watching now is because of loyalty and not because the show is that great anymore.


i actually met katherine heigl in an airport and she was one of the sweetest people ive ever met. she stopped and took a picture and talk to me about where i was from. very genuine.


"better without her?"
Hell no!!!
The show went god-awfull-throwing-things-because I'm so irritated by Lexie, Mark, Owen Mercy westers BLEGH! The show got really weak this season, I even considered leaving it, and I only watched hoping Izzie would return,,,but she didn't.... Fortunatly, the last few episodes where good, and I love "game changers"....so I'm TOTALLY in now!


@anuflas I'm with you on this one. I don't buy this interview either.


Having a baby and adopting a baby is very different, people should realise that. A lot of things go wrong after adopting (e.g. bonding, attachment) and it takes a LOT of investment (and even than it's hard). Good thing KH realises this on time! I think it's a good interview, admitting mistakes and all. And if it's all blabla - who cares? It's her life, not ours. I think her final quote ("it's not [home], it's just a place I worked and I can do that anywhere" - Thanx BurkeComplex, for the reminder!) says it all. The statement is sad, but so true.


I've always respected her and I respect her now. She says she's leaving because she doesn't want to have a full time job now that she has a baby than good for her :) she wants to be a mother full time and watch her baby girl grow and take her first steps and she can't do that if she's working 18 hour days now can she? I'm proud of KH for wanting that. Of course a girls got to work and she'll be doing some part time acting so i'm glad she'll still be on the same screen :) I'm just sad she couldn't finish off the season :(


I'm not being childish simply for making what seems to be quite an accurate observation about how you come across in your posts. You, like some other users here seem to be opinionated to the point that you think it's ok to insult other people, while trying to stand on a high horse. You are being rude, plain and simple. I don't hate Katherine Heigl at all. The fact you also accuse me of this proves that you're not interested in others opinions, just interested in attacking them. I never once said I hated Katherine Heigl. I also don't hate you, that would be kind of stupid since I've never met you. I just don't like it when people leave comments in the kind of manor such as yours. There is no reason to attack people because you don't agree with their opinion, and trying to make yourself look like you haven't done anything wrong in the process. If you stopped coming to this site before it had nothing to do with my comments, so again don't try to make yourself look good out of nothing. Try giving people some respect and you won't have runs ins like this.

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Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

There's a reason I said I'd be happy alone. It wasn't 'cause I thought I'd be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It's easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don't have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.