Why Hollywood won't cast Katherine Heigl anymore

Once upon a time, Katherine Heigl was one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood, with movie stardom and an Emmy-winning role on Grey's Anatomy. However, she garnered a reputation in Hollywood was being an ingrate, and it's hindered her ability to get work.

Heigl lamented to Entertainment Weekly after her Grey's exit in 2010, "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."

Was her public mea culpa a case of "too little, too late?" Possibly, because not long afterward she appeared in Zzzquil and cat litter commercials. What exactly led to the demise of Katherine Heigl's movie career? As it turns out, much of it had to do with Heigl herself ... but there may be hope for her yet.

She dissed the projects that made her a household name

To this day, Katherine Heigl's biggest blockbuster is Knocked Up (2007). Heigl had a beef with the romantic comedy — but conveniently waited until her check for it cleared before speaking out against the Judd Apatow smash. She told Vanity Fair in 2008, "It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I'm playing such a b****... It was hard for me to love the movie."

That wasn't the only time Heigl slammed a project that made her a star.

In June 2008, Heigl withdrew from the race for Emmy nominations for her role of Izzie on Grey's Anatomy, despite winning the award for best supporting actress in a drama series in 2007. Heigl told press (via The New York Times), "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention." Translation: "I believe the writing sucked. I also want attention, and possibly to get out of my contract."

She was a bit of a hypocrite when it came to her roles

Despite thinking Knocked Up (2007) was sexist, Katherine Heigl went on to star in a slew of poorly selected romcoms, most notably The Ugly Truth (2009) — which she also executive-produced —that played up some seriously screwed up gender stereotypes. Her Knocked Up director, Judd Apatow, dissed her on The Howard Stern Show in July 2009 with co-star Seth Rogen, saying, "I hear there's a scene [in The Ugly Truth] where she's wearing ... underwear ... with a vibrator in it, so I'd have to see if that was uplifting for women."

Heigl's big screen work outside of Knocked Up (2007) was largely critically panned, and many of her films were box office flops as well. The Ugly Truth (2009) and Life As We Know It (2010) profited at the box office, but were poorly reviewed; Killers (2010), One For The Money (2012) and The Big Wedding (2013) were rotten critically and commercially. Studios will only tolerate so many failures before they quit casting a star ... especially if that star is a woman.

She didn't give studios bang for their buck

Katherine Heigl was reportedly so demanding during negotiations for ensemble romcom Valentine's Day (2010) that she didn't get cast, though whether it was her choice or the studio's depends on who you ask.

"Producers at New Line originally had Katherine on their casting list. They wanted her for the project, but during the talks, she came back demanding $3 million for the role," a source told The New York Post, adding that the studio dropped Heigl because the demand was "ridiculous ... [the movie has] an ensemble cast where there is really no one lead role. Actors are only filming between three and 14 days, and no other actors asked for nearly that amount." Heigl's rep at the time, however, snapped, "The story is ludicrous. Early negotiations are a daily occurrence in this business, and just for clarification, Katherine walked away from this project for multiple reasons."

It may have been a good call on the studio's behalf: Forbes reported in December 2013 that Heigl was Hollywood's most overpaid actress, netting studios a return on investment of just $3.50 for every $1 she was paid. (For contrast, Forbes estimated that Natalie Portman earned a whopping $42.70 for studios for every $1 paid based on the actresses' respective box office numbers.)

She burned some serious bridges

In what was perhaps a desperate move, Katherine Heigl said in 2012 that she'd love to return to Grey's Anatomy. That was never going to fly with showrunner Shonda Rhimes, who told The Hollywood Reporter of the cast of another of her hit shows, Scandal, in October 2014, "There are no Heigls in this situation ... I don't put up with bulls**t or nasty people. I don't have time for it."

Meanwhile, Judd Apatow told Howard Stern in 2009, "[You think] at some point I'll get a call saying 'Sorry, I was tired...' and then the call never comes." By 2017, Heigl still hadn't buried the hatchet with Apatow. He told Vulture he was shocked she hated Knocked Up so much because he thought everyone loved and had grown close on the set of the film.

He explained, "To learn that she had reservations was difficult ... We've all had opinions about the work we've done, but what's a drag is that the negative ones separate people. Because what you really want to do is make something and then for the rest of your life be able to call the people you made it with and say, 'Wasn't that fun? Wasn't that great when we did that thing?' Now we can't do that." He added that Heigl never actually apologized to him, but noted, "I don't want her to ever feel bad. I'd like her to love the movie as much as I do."

She was 'desperately difficult'

In 2013, an insider who worked on Life As We Know It (2010) told The Hollywood Reporter that working with Katherine Heigl led to "desperately difficult situations."

"She can cost you time every single day of shooting. Wardrobe issues, not getting out of the trailer, questioning the script every single day. Even getting her deal closed at Warners was hard," the source said. "She hit that point of 'no.'"

A staffer who worked on 27 Dresses (2008) had a similar experience with Heigl, lamenting, "There were movie-star demands — big rooms, the mother there, all the stuff. ... 'We need the presidential suite at The Bristol!' It was just a sense of entitlement. The biggest stars don't do that kind of thing."

Still, when Heigl was later asked about her reputation as rude and difficult to work with, she wasn't apologetic. "I certainly don't see myself as being difficult; I would never intend to be difficult. I don't think my mother sees herself as being difficult," she said in a press conference in 2014 (via The Hollywood Reporter). "It's always important to everybody to conduct themselves professionally and respectfully and kindly, so if I have ever disappointed somebody, it was never intentional."

Her momager was out of control

Katherine Heigl's mother, Nancy, has served as her manager since the beginning of her career, and it hasn't exactly worked out well.

A source told OK! Magazine (via Star), "Nancy isn't a producer ... but she thinks that she has a right to make decisions and she has angered a lot of people in the process. ... Katherine doesn't know when to stay quiet and she has damaged her reputation, and her mother encouraged that behavior. She is very close to her mom, but she knows she needs to salvage what remains of her career with someone else — that is if anyone else will take her."

Another insider echoed those sentiments to The Hollywood Reporter. "I have never experienced anything like Nancy Heigl," the source fumed. "It's about the mouth. 'F**k you. You are a f**king liar.' ... Whatever you'd say, you were an idiot," the source continued. "The call would be, 'This is the worst craft service we've ever had! There's nothing to eat! This is the worst wardrobe!' You knew that every day, you were going to get slammed."

Someone please get Kris Jenner on the phone STAT to show these women how it's done.

Her publicists couldn't deal with her

Page Six reported that Heigl ditched her longtime publicist, Jill Fritzo, in 2010 in favor of Melissa Kates. In a move that's almost unheard of in the media world, Kates fired Heigl — not the other way around — later that year.

"PR people rarely resign from accounts, especially when starting their own company, and the client in question is a legitimate movie star," a source told Deadline. Heigl then signed with Kelly Bush, who nabbed a coveted Entertainment Weekly cover for Heigl to do damage control. An insider dished to Deadline, "Kelly did amazing job. That EW piece was initially a takedown but she turned it into a love letter." Heigl repaid Bush by firing her after just five weeks, then crawling back to Fritzo.

Heigl's contentious relationships with her publicists may have been a big mistake: Variety reported that Heigl hardly did any interviews leading up to the premiere of her NBC series, State Of Affairs, in 2014. 

Her TV shows tend to tank

Katherine Heigl's avoidance of the press leading up to her projects may have hurt her shots at success on the small screen — The Los Angeles Times reported that State Of Affairs was canceled in May 2015 after just one season due to lackluster ratings. Heigl's next television project, Doubt, premiered on CBS in February 2017 ... and was canned after just two episodes, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Her luck seemed to turn a bit when she signed on to star in USA's Suits in January 2018, with the series benefiting from the buzz of a former star you may have heard of — her name is Meghan Markle, and she recently married some rich ginger guy. Unfortunately, it seems like Markle may have taken the ratings with her when she exited. Fox News reported that since Markle left the series to become the Duchess of Sussex, Suits has had a steady decline in viewership.

How she can turn it around

Heigl seems to be self-aware, at least in terms of what projects she's choosing as of late — she's not signing on to every single romantic comedy that comes her way anymore.

She explained to Marie Claire in 2014 of her previous niche, "I love romantic comedies. ... But maybe I hit it a little too hard. I couldn't say no. ... I stopped challenging myself. It became a bit by rote and, as a creative person, that can wear you down." She added, "I took that time off to ask myself, 'What do I want?' What am I looking for?' and shut down all the noise."

A source close to Heigl told The Hollywood Reporter in 2013 that she's truly trying to behave better ... at least publicly, and especially if it gets her a healthy paycheck.

"She's really determined to put everything behind her. The only way to do that is to go to work in film or television with good people and for those people to have good things to report back," the source said. "And it's not an overnight thing. There's a really loyal, huge fan base that's waiting to see her."

And when all else fails ... There's media training.