Ellen Pompeo Says Katherine Heigl Was ‘Absolutely Correct’ to Slam ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Long Hours

Ellen Pompeo and Katherine Heigl Grey's Anatomy
Jordin Althaus / ABC; Michael Desmond / ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo has defended her former co-star Katherine Heigl for speaking out about the harsh conditions in the early days of the ABC medical drama.

During a conversation with fellow Grey‘s star Kate Walsh on the latest episode of the Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo podcast, Pompeo brought up an old talk show appearance where Heigl publicly criticized the show’s long working hours. “She was 100 percent right, and had she said that today, she’d be a complete hero,” stated Pompeo.

The Golden Globe-nominated actress went on to say that Heigl was considered “ungrateful” at the time for airing her complaints. “The truth is, she’s 100 percent honest, and it’s absolutely correct what she said,” Pompeo continued. “And she was f**king ballsy for saying it. And she was telling the truth; she wasn’t lying.”

Heigl made reference to the working conditions at Grey’s Anatomy when she appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman in 2009. Discussing the filming of Season 6, the Knocked Up star said, “Our first day back was Wednesday, and I’m going to keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses [the production team]; it was a 17-hour day, which I think is cruel and mean.”

The long-running medical series has been the subject of various behind-the-scenes drama over the years. In addition to Heigl’s complaints about the working hours, she also withdrew her name from Emmy contention in 2008, stating that she “did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination.”

Heigl would ultimately exit the series in 2010. In a 2014 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the show’s creator Shonda Rhimes referenced her past with Heigl, claiming that Scandal‘s cast works so well together because “there are no Heigls in this situation.”

Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, 9/8c, ABC