During a press tour for her upcoming NBC drama, State of Affairs, Katherine Heigl was asked by a reporter to address the the recurrent speculation that she and her ever-present momager are difficult to work with.
Seeming momentarily unsure how to answer, a flustered Heigl haltingly offered, "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. I think it's important to everybody to conduct themselves professionally and respectfully and kindly, so if I've ever disappointed somebody, it was never intentional."
Translation: Even if I was difficult to work with, it wasn't my intention to be difficult, ergo I am absolved of my difficultness.
The same reporter also asked Heigl if the criticism directed towards her was due to the fact that she is an outspoken women. Heigl, however, didn't respond to that part of the question.
Now, I call bullshit on that. Blaming it all on her being a woman with an opinion ignores a cardinal rule of the entertainment industry: Difficult individuals are tolerated as long as they are profitable. Really, that goes for anything. Steve Jobs was a huge asshole but he was a genius who made Apple billions of dollars so everyone let him scream at them. People stopped working with Heigl because she stopped making sense financially and she was difficult.
Her reputation for being difficult to work with can be traced back to January 2008 when she called her star-making film, Knocked Up, "a little sexist." And you know what? That movie was sexist. Heigl was also a hot commodity at the time so scripts still came her way.
Later in 2008 she withdrew from Emmy consideration for her role in Grey's Anatomy because she felt the show hadn't given her the material to justify a nomination.
"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. In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials."
Her statement was less outspoken and more just plain rude. Her feelings towards the material may have been valid, but it seemed like an issue that would have been better addressed with the show's creator, Shonda Rhimes.
Heigl was released early from her Grey's Anatomy contract a year and a half later. She subsequently made 27 Dresses and about three hundred other terrible romantic comedies. The simple fact is, when she stopped making money, people stopped putting up with her shit.
The real issue doesn't seem to be that Heigl was difficult or outspoken. The problem is that she was difficult and unpopular. You can be difficult as long as you deliver.
State of Affairs looks pretty good (Hello black lady president Alfre Woodard!) and Katherine Heigl really is a good actress, so I hope she doesn't fuck this with a bad attitude. And if the show is successful, my guess is that Heigl can probably go back to being as difficult as she wants.
Image via NBC.