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.


LOL Your name is "Lauren is rude"? Holy crap, how childish. You know what? Hate her. Hate me. I really don't care. I can honestly see why I stopped coming to this website. Have fun :)


You outright called Lita an idiot simply for having an opinion that differed from yours. If that isn't calling names I don't know what is. People are entitled to their opinions and you don't have to call them idiots just because you disagree. I think if anybody got their panties in a bunch it was you, since you have no reservations about calling people you've never met idiots.


Jess, lovely rebuttal. Megan, I never called anyone names. All I asked was why people have to bash her when they don't even know her. Getting your panties in a bunch because you clearly didn't read what I said isn't my problem.


Mer: please don't go, this is your home...
Iz: no it's not, not anymore. it's just a place I worked and I can do that anywhere Season 6 Episode 12 (39:36 - the last moment we see Izzie) Farewell.


I am sorry to see her go. I will miss Izzie & Alex. I understand why she is leaving and I wish her well. But I still love Grey's. Looking forward to tonight's episode.


"the show is better without her" Have YOU been watching the same show I've been watching? I mean I'm not saying her leaving is what has lead it to being as bad as it is, but the show is definately nowhere near as good as it use to be....


I'm happy she recognized her mistakes. That's a hard thing to do and well, I respect her for that. But by some reason, I don't buy this interview.


Lauren- She is a horrible person....and you should start watching the show again, it is amazing how much better it is without all of the izzie drama. PS...just because we don't agree with you does not give you the right to call us names....i mean, seriously!!! You and Katherine must be pretty tight for you to get all bent out of shape....


Lauren, Shut up. Thats all.


KH had some really good points in her interview. I'll miss her because I will miss Izzie. I loved Alex and Izzie. But if KH is gone now, I'll just move on. I think that a proper send off was good until I read that she wouldn't want to do that again. I think she did have a proper send off, now that I think about it. It broke my heart a little when she said that Meredith's house is not her home anymore. I'm glad she chose movies so she can be with Naleigh more. The baby is cute! I'll miss KH and I'll miss Izzie. :)

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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.