Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl Recalls Thinking She'd ‘Rather Be Dead' After Label Ruined Her Reputation

In a new interview with The Washington Post, Katherine Heigl addressed her self-described “shunning” from Hollywood and the impact it had on her mental health

In this file photo, Katherine Heigl as Charleston Tucker in "State of Affairs."
Nino Munoz/NBC

Years after she gained a reputation for being difficult to work with, Katherine Heigl is taking on the court of public opinion.

The actress confronts what she called Hollywood's "shunning" in a new interview with The Washington Post, admitting that the immense criticism once made her feel like she "would rather be dead."

As Heigl recalls, the public's impression of her changed when she began to speak her mind about the projects she worked on.

"I may have said a couple of things you didn't like, but then that escalated to 'she's ungrateful,' then that escalated to 'she's difficult' and that escalated to 'she's unprofessional'... What is your definition of difficult? Somebody with an opinion that you don't like? Now, I'm 42, and that s--- pisses me off."

The more Heigl apologized for speaking negatively about her experience starring in projects like "Knocked Up" and "Grey's Anatomy," "the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong."

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Her "27 Dresses" co-star James Marsden told the Post that she really did have good intentions at the time.

"She has very strong convictions and strong opinions on certain things, and she doesn't back down from you know if she feels like she's been wrong in any way."

But Marsden said he doesn't believe Heigl deserved such harsh backlash.

"I've always seen that as just strength of character," he said. "I can see how that can get construed as being difficult or ungrateful or whatever. But if you know Katie, it's simply because she has the courage to stand behind something she believes."

Similarly, her husband, Josh Kelley, said that he thinks "she'd be a hero" if history repeated itself today.

Even so, Heigl said she faced unexpected consequences for her actions. The "Grey's Anatomy" actress thought her reputation wouldn't matter as long as the movies she starred in were profitable.

"You can be the most awful, difficult, horrible person on the planet, but if you're making them money, they're going to keep hiring you."

But, as she noted, the projects that followed the success of "27 Dresses" and "The Ugly Truth" didn't "make quite as much money."

Becoming a pariah in Hollywood inflicted major damage on Heigl's mental health.

"I think my family, my mother, my husband, my friends were scared. And I regret deeply that I scared them like that," she said. "But I just couldn't control it. I had no tools."

It was only in the years after welcoming her son, Joshua Jr., that the star was ready to confront her weakened emotional state.

"I asked my mom and my husband to find me somewhere to go that could help me because I felt like I would rather be dead," Heigl said. "I didn't realize how much anxiety I was living with until I got so bad that I had to really seek help. You can do a lot of inner soul work, but I'm a big fan of Zoloft."

And with time, Heigl said that she's learned to have "a little more gentleness" with herself.

"I've grown into accepting that ambition is not a dirty word, and that it doesn't make me less of a feminine, loving, nurturing woman to be ambitious and have big dreams and big goals."

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resourcesfor additional resources.

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