Katherine Heigl has revealed that therapy and meditation helped her ‘get to know [herself]’ after she endured a ‘public shaming’ and was labelled ‘difficult’.
The former Grey’s Anatomy star quit Hollywood for a rural life in Utah in 2010, amid a loud chorus of accusations that she was ‘difficult to work with’ and ‘ungrateful’ for her screen success, thanks in large part to awkwardly-worded interviews.
And the actress, 42, has now revealed that amid her retreat from the spotlight more than a decade ago, she went on a self-help journey that also included the use of crystals, reiki and acupuncture – all of which she continues to practice today.
Self-help: Katherine Heigl has revealed that therapy and meditation helped her ‘get to know [herself]’ after she endured a ‘public shaming’ and was labelled ‘difficult’
Discussing the huge shift in her public image, she told The Telegraph‘s Stella magazine: ‘It was this giant snowball effect. The more conscious of it I was, the more afraid I was, and the more I would say something stupid.
‘It was this vicious cycle. It was a public shaming. Even a little public bullying. And I took it really, really personally. It had me confused about my own worth because I put all my value in other peoples opinions and suddenly those opinions changed.’
Several years after moving to Utah, where she lives with her musician husband Josh Kelley and their three children – daughters Naleigh, 12, and Adelaide, eight, as well as four-year-old son Joshua – Katherine appears to have no regrets.
She said: ‘Getting out of the way for a while was very healing. It was a good time to just figure myself out. I’m not sure why I’ve spent such a long time not knowing who I am… I’m no guru, I still f**k it up regularly, but at least I’m trying now, whereas before, I didn’t even know how to.’
Controversy: Heigl, now 42, skyrocketed to global fame while playing the role of Izzie Stephens in Grey’s Anatomy from 2005 to 2010. But her public image suffered at the time
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. the actress has spent much of the past year at home with her family on their ranch, where they have five dogs, three cats, horses, chickens, goats, donkeys, and pigs.
And while she has a number of projects coming up in the near future, including the series Firefly Lane and the thriller Fear Of Rain, she has privately enjoyed a simple life on her rural ranch with her family.
One of the advantages is husband Josh, who she married in 2007, building what Katherine has dubbed a ‘marriage-saving’ shack, where they regularly watch TV together when they want to enjoy time as a couple.
The star previously hit back at the career-blighting claims she is ‘ungrateful’ and ‘difficult’, insisting that she has been falsely portrayed as ‘unprofessional’ by people who ‘didn’t like her opinions’.
Utah: She now lives in Utah with husband Josh Kelley and their free children. Pictured in 2018
Her once-successful film and TV career has long been overshadowed by reports about her behaviour – leaving her suffering from such bad anxiety that she reached a point where she ‘felt like she’d rather be dead’.
However, Heigl is resolute in her claims that any allegations about her bad behaviour have come as a result of misunderstandings, telling the Washington Post: ‘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**t pisses me off,’ she added.
Heigl has faced controversy after controversy throughout her career – which began with small movie roles in the mid-90s – many of which were sparked by comments that she herself made.
Escalated: ‘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,”‘ Heigl said
While playing the role of Dr. Izzie Stephens in the hit ABC series Grey’s Anatomy, the actress prompted outrage when she refused to put herself forward for an Emmy Award in 2008, claiming that she was not ‘given the material to warrant a nomination’.
Then in 2009, during an appearance on David Letterman, she slammed the show’s producers for making the cast work a 17-hour day, branding them ‘cruel and mean’.
‘Our first day back was Wednesday and it was — I’m going to keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them — a 17-hour day, which I think is cruel and mean,’ she said.
Heigl left the show the following year in order to pursue movie roles, however after scoring a few big hits with comedies like Knocked Up, which she criticised as being ‘a little sexist’, and 27 Dresses, her other on-screen projects underperformed, if not totally flopped, at the box office.
Sorry: The actress added that she was, ‘quickly told to shut the f— up. The more I said I was sorry, the more they wanted it’; seen in 2008
She also struggled to escape her negative reputation – which even saw her labelled in some forums as ‘the most hatred actress in Hollywood’ – and she admits that the criticism caused her to trip herself up more and more.
‘The more I said I was sorry, the more they wanted it, she explained. ‘The more terrified and scared I was of doing something wrong, the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong.’
Initially, the rumours and gossip about Heigl being ‘difficult’ to work with didn’t affect her career, with the actress noting that even the ‘most awful, difficult, horrible’ people can keep a job, if they continue to ‘make money’ – which she was, for a time.
‘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,’ Heigl said.
Dead: She even hit a point around 2015, where she felt she’d, ‘rather be dead,’ though her family helped her get through those tough times; seen in My Father The Hero
‘I knew that whatever they felt I had done that was so awful, they would overlook it if I made them money — but then my films started to make not quite as much money.’
When her successful on-screen career turned into a series of failures and flops, Heigl reached breaking point, struggling to cope with the increasing pressure to secure a box office hit, coupled with the enduringly negative labels that followed her from job to job.
In 2015, her anxiety had become so extreme that she felt like she would ‘rather be dead’ – and she asked her family to help her seek professional help to deal with her mental health issues, revealing that she began taking prescription drug Zoloft which is used to treat depression, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
‘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. I didn’t realise 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,’ Heigl said.
Her husband Josh said that if Heigl had said the things she said then, in today’s climate, she’d be considered, ‘a hero.’
Advocate: She even had another advocate in her 27 Dresses co-star James Marsden, who had nothing but glowing things to say about her
‘I can’t imagine what all of that pressure did to her over the years, dealing with celebrity, dealing with people saying things about her that are not true. It would be hard for anybody to process that, especially when it’s unjust and a lot of it’s negative,’ he said.
She even had another advocate in her 27 Dresses co-star James Marsden, who had nothing but glowing things to say about her.
‘She has very strong convictions and strong opinions on certain things, and she doesn’t back down from letting you know if she feels like she’s been wronged in any way. I’ve always seen that as just strength of character,’ Marsden 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,’ he added.
Marsden continued, ‘One element of Katie that I’ve always thought would define her was her drive. I never thought that she was going to be one that idles well. She’s not going to sit there. She’s going to take control and do it her way.’
Strong: ‘She has very strong convictions and strong opinions on certain things, and she doesn’t back down from letting you know if she feels like she’s been wronged in any way,’ Marsden said; seen in Suits