'I Wasn't Trying To Be A D--k': Did Katherine Heigl Really Turn Down An Emmy Nomination When Things Were Allegedly Not Great On Grey's Anatomy?

 Katherine Heigl in episode 3 of Grey's Anatomy Season 1.
Credit: ABC

Back in 2008, after Katherine Heigl had wrapped her fourth season on Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Izzie Stevens, the actress released a statement. In it, she revealed her decision to not submit herself for Primetime Emmys consideration, because she did not feel she was “given the material” that season to “warrant” a nomination. Fifteen years later, the sentiment remains a controversial comment from Heigl, especially since it's cited as one of the reasons she abruptly left Grey’s during Season 6. Now, Heigl has shared new thoughts regarding whether she truly turned down the nomination amid allegedly turbulent times on the show.

When Katherine Heigl appeared as a guest on the Let's Be Clear with Shannen Doherty podcast , the host asked the former Grey’s Anatomy lead about refusing the prestigious TV award. Here’s how Heigl responded:

Well I didn't, and everybody keeps saying that. I didn't turn it down. You know, you have to submit yourself. You have to submit your work and then they deliberate and then they decide if they want to give you a nomination. I just didn't submit my work that year. And I should, you know, I don't know, my mother and I were talking about this recently. I should have said nothing. I should have said nothing. I should have just said ‘Oh I forgot,’ because it created such a maelstrom that was so unnecessary, and it really was.

As the Firefly Lane star explains, she regrets making the statement about the Emmys, given how the comments have still followed her so many years later. Previously, in 2021, the actress weighed in on what exactly happened, saying that she believes she “ambushed” the Grey’s writers with her sentiments and it “wasn’t very nice or fair.” The star further emphasized that she didn't attend to cause harm and "wasn't trying to be a dick":

I was kind of trying to make a bit of a snarky point about my material that year, but I was also just not feeling my material. I didn't think I had anything that warranted even the consideration for a nomination. I just wasn't proud of my work…I would never be so bold or so arrogant to turn down a nomination. I would take that nomination if it came my way. I'd be down. But I just knew there wasn't anything that would really warrant one that year, and I was trying to be honorable, I guess. I was trying to have some integrity. I wasn't trying to be a dick.

Katherine Heigl did win an Emmy the year prior for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role on the medical drama. As she remained with the series however, tensions began to rise between herself and the producers. In 2009, Heigl publicly called out the Grey’s producers for having the cast and crew work a 17-hour day, which she called “cruel and mean.”

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It was a year later when series creator Shonda Rhimes agreed to release the star from her Grey’s Anatomy contract 18 months early. At the time, the official reason given was the fact that the Knocked Up alum and her husband, Josh Kelly, had just adopted their first child the year prior and that family obligations were their No. 1 priority. There were a number of other conflicting reports, though. Some noted that the Izzie actress wanted to focus on her film career instead and wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Rhimes on the hit show’s content.

Katherine Heigl did appear in a guest spot on the long-running medical drama back in 2016, though. Also, at this year’s Emmys ceremony, Heigl reunited with her cast members, much to the delight of fans -- many of whom took to social media to share their joy. While it’s hard to forget what could have been regarding Izzie’s story if the star hadn’t left so abruptly, it’s great to see that she is on good terms with her Grey’s collaborators. And, should anyone have further questions about her Emmy statement, I'd imagine that Heigl will continue to double down on setting the record straight if needed.

Grey’s Anatomy was renewed for Season 21 and is set to return to ABC this fall as part of the 2024 TV schedule. While you wait for new episodes to arrive, stream the latest season along with other past episodes using a Hulu subscription.