In 2008, Katherine Heigl weathered more controversy in the span of a year than most actors deal with their entire careers. In addition to the actress's insinuation that the writers of Grey's Anatomy didn't give her “the material” in the show's fourth season to warrant Emmy consideration for her performance, she also drew ire for calling Knocked Up “a little sexist,” telling Vanity Fair in a now-infamous interview:
“It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. … 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.”
In a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday's Howard Stern Show, Heigl addressed both controversies, but let's stay with Knocked Up for a moment. Despite her critical comments in the Vanity Fair profile, Heigl insists that she “liked the movie a lot. I just didn't like me [in it],” in essence blaming her performance — not writer/director Judd Apatow — for her discomfort with the character she played:
“She was so judgmental and kind of uptight and controlling and all these things,” said Heigl. “And I really went with it while we were doing it, and a lot of it — Judd allows everyone to be very free and improvise and whatever — and afterwards I was like, 'Why is that where I went with this? What an asshole she is.'”
As to the Vanity Fair interview itself, Heigl characterized her moment of honesty as “dumb” but maintains that her comments were taken damningly out of context when the story was picked up by other outlets:
“I don't mean to imply on any level that [the Vanity Fair interviewer] trapped me, she didn't,” said Heigl. “She just…said you know, a lot of women felt that it was a little sexist. So then I felt obligated to answer that. So I tried in my very sort of ungracious way to answer why I felt that it maybe was a little. And I kind of, if you read the whole quote, I'm just saying that can be the nature of broad comedy. They're exaggerating stereotypes, that's what makes it funny. But they just took the 'sexist' thing out.”
Here's where it gets awkward. Though Heigl at the time made a public mea culpa, insisting that “'Look, this was not what I meant. This was an incredible experience for me, and they were incredibly good to me on this movie, so I did not mean to shit on them at all,'” she never privately apologized to either Apatow or co-star Seth Rogen, something she now regrets but feels too “embarrassed” at this point to patch up.
“I feel embarrassed, you know what I mean? I don't want it to feel insincere on any level,” she said, adding later: “I absolutely owe anybody an apology who I unwittingly offended or disrespected, like, I agree.”