“I felt like I would rather be dead.”
What exactly is a ‘difficult woman’ and why is she so much worse, according to Hollywood, than a difficult man?
I feel like all my life I’ve been hearing about all these difficult women, and while I have no doubt there are women who act like divas, there are many men who do the same but walk away without the term ‘difficult’ attributed to them.
One case in particular, which has come to light again due to the anticipated release of Firefly Lane, is the Hollywood blacklisting of actor Katherine Heigl.
Heigl had an enviable career in the early 2000s with a main cast role on hit show Grey’s Anatomy and several leading lady spots in films such as Knocked Up and 27 Dresses.
But then it all came crashing down and for years no one has heard much from the 42-year-old actor. But why?
Well, not unlike what happened to Joey on Friends (who funnily enough was also playing a doctor in a TV show) Heigl made some controversial remarks regarding roles, such as the one she played in Knocked Up which, were not well received.
“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 bitch; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you’re portraying women?
Ninety-eight percent of the time, it was an amazing experience, but it was hard for me to love the movie.”
While I understand why her comments could be seen as ungrateful, and it probably wasn’t the greatest thing to say when asked about the movie, I can’t help but draw comparison to the multitude of times that Twilight actor Robert Patterson said he hated Twilight and regretted taking the role.
Patterson was never blacklisted for his distain for the vampire films that made him a household name, neither was he called ungrateful.
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill also said that he wasn’t happy with the latest Star Wars movies while promoting them as he reprised his role as Luke Skywalker.
Both of these men were called honest and “just giving their opinion”. Heigl however was difficult and ungrateful.
More controversy arose when Heigl decided to take herself out of the running in the Emmys for Best Supporting Actress.
Heigl says that while people took it as a swipe against Grey’s Anatomy she honestly felt like she didn’t deserve the nomination as her character Izzie did not have much screen time on that particular season;
“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.”
Marlon Brando also famously refused to accept his Academy Award in 1973 for The Godfather, as did actor George C Scott in 1970.
Soon after this decision Heigl began to see her roles start to disappear as media sources and pretty much all of Hollywood branded her ‘difficult’ to work with, even after multiple apologies from the then 30-year-old.
“At the time, I was just quickly told to shut the fuck up.
The more I said I was sorry, the more they wanted it.
The more terrified and scared I was of doing something wrong, the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong.”
Heigl went on to say that being blacklisted and suddenly having everyone hate her had a serious effect on her mental health.
It was not the first time the former Grey’s Anatomy star had dealt with mental health issues as Heigl gave several interviews in her early career discussing her battle with depression after her brother died in an accident when she was a child.
Heigl says she finally sought help after she saw how much her spiralling mental health was hurting her family;
“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 realize how much anxiety I was living with until I got so bad that I had to really seek help.”
When asked if she would take back anything Heigl said no. In fact, the older she gets, the more angry she is at just how much everyone came for her for simply having an opinion.
“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 shit pisses me off.”
I’m not going to lie, I remember falling onto the ‘I don’t like Katherine Heigl’ bandwagon without knowing why I didn’t like Katherine Heigl. In fact, I actually did like her but every magazine I picked up told me not to.
I had no idea that a lot of it had to do with her questioning her role in Knocked Up, which I’m not particularly a fan. But wven if she did have notions or was a bit of a diva, did that really entitle everyone to constantly bad mouth her?
When Caroline Flack tragically passed away, we all said wasn’t it awful how the tabloids treated her. When it turned out Britney Spears had no freedom we all backtracked on how much we mocked her mental breakdown in 2007.
When it turned out Paris Hilton had suffered years of abuse as a teenager, suddenly she wasn’t the ‘tramp’ from the sex tape anymore, but a victim and an inspiration.
If looking deeper into why Heigl was blacklisted should tell us anything it’s that maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to hate women just because we’re told to.