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Katherine Heigl Confirmed That Grey's Anatomy Rumor You Heard Is Wrong

When "Grey's Anatomy" premiered as a mid-season replacement in the spring of 2005 on ABC, fans were introduced to the medical drama's five original surgical interns: Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), George O'Malley (T.R. Knight), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), and Isobel "Izzie" Stevens, played by Katherine Heigl. By this point, every single one of those actors has left the show — even Meredith, who ostensibly puts the "Grey" in "Grey's Anatomy" — and Heigl left the series early in its sixth season amidst some nasty allegations regarding her "difficult" on-set behavior. So does Heigl have any regrets? Yes ... and it has to do with the 2008 Emmys race, where she didn't compete in the supporting actress field.

On Shannon Doherty's podcast "Let's Be Clear," the "Charmed" veteran asked Heigl about "turning down" a nomination, to which Heigl responded, hoping to clarify the whole thing. "Well, I didn't, and everybody keeps saying that," Heigl responded. "I didn't turn it down."

"You know, you have to submit yourself," Heigl continued. "You have to submit your work, and then they deliberate and then they decide if they want to give you a nomination," Heigl explained. "I just didn't submit my work that year."

In 2008, Heigl released a statement (via the New York Times) explaining her absence from that year's hopefuls for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series. "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," the statement read. 

Katherine Heigl won an Emmy for playing Izzie — but didn't submit her work in a later season

It's not normally a particularly big deal when an actress, for whatever reason, decides not to submit herself for awards consideration. So why did Katherine Heigl's 2008 statement make such a stir? Likely because she won an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series in 2007 — for playing Izzie Stevens. To be fair to Heigl, Season 2 of "Grey's Anatomy" was a particularly great outing for the actress; Izzie's now-legendary plotline involved a cut LVAD wire and the death of her fiancé, patient Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Season 3 was also, admittedly, not quite as good (partway through the season, Izzie performs emergency surgery on ... a deer). Still, Heigl regrets the way she handled it all.

After saying she "should have said nothing," Heigl continued. "I should have said, 'Oh, I forgot [to submit my work],' because it created such a maelstrom that was so unnecessary, and it really was," she said. "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."

Perhaps most vitally, Heigl said she would never decline some as prestigious as an Emmy nod. "I would never be so bold or so arrogant to turn down a nomination," she stated. "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 d*ck."

Who did Katherine Heigl play on Grey's Anatomy, and did she ever return to the show?

Let's rewind for a moment: who was Izzie Stevens? How did the character — and Katherine Heigl — ultimately leave the show? And did Heigl ever make any sort of return to "Grey's Anatomy?"

The five original interns were all incredibly different, and immediately, Izzie is presented as an eager, friendly doctor who forms close bonds with her patients. (This eventually gets her in trouble, particularly where Denny Duquette is concerned.) After stealing a heart transplant for Denny and cutting his LVAD wire, only for Denny to die of a stroke post-transplant, Izzie briefly leaves her surgical residency at Seattle Grace Hospital before eventually returning. Still, when Izzie starts hallucinating a corporeal Denny — in one of the show's least popular plotlines of all time — she realizes she has cancer and nearly dies, but during her recovery, she makes an enormous mistake regarding a patient's medication and is fired from the hospital. Izzie vanishes, by then married to Alex Karev, and only returns briefly in the Season 6 episode "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked," which aired in 2010.

Heigl never formally returned to the series as Izzie — though, presumably, she still could — but she sat down with former co-star Ellen Pompeo for an "Actors on Actors" segment for Variety in 2023, and this year, she and some original "Grey's Anatomy" cast members appeared together as presenters at the Emmys. So what has Heigl been doing since playing Izzie Stevens?

What has Katherine Heigl been doing since Grey's Anatomy?

During her time on "Grey's Anatomy," Katherine Heigl simultaneously made a name for herself in huge romantic comedies like "27 Dresses" and "Knocked Up," and after her time on the show, her continued work in that genre didn't fare quite as well. Movies like "The Ugly Truth" and "Killers" produced diminishing returns with critics, and unfortunately, her reputation regarding her "Grey's Anatomy" conduct did follow her. 

Still, Heigl made a comeback. In 2014, she led the brief NBC drama "State of Affairs," which began her time as an executive producer on her own projects. In 2018, she joined the cast of "Suits" as high-powered attorney Samantha Wheeler, and remained on the show until 2019; in 2021, her biggest television role since "Grey's Anatomy" came thanks to the Netflix original series "Firefly Lane." Alongside Sarah Chalke as her co-lead Kate Mularkey, Heigl plays reporter turned national television host Tully Hart, who supports Kate through thick and thin ... even as their relationship faces major hurdles. "Firefly Lane" ended in 2023, but it definitely re-established Heigl as a major TV star.

As for "Grey's Anatomy," the series is streaming now on Netflix and Hulu — so you can relive Izzie Stevens' best (and worst) moments.