Where Do Ellen Pompeo and Katherine Heigl Stand Years After Their ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Days?
Throughout its 17-year run, Grey’s Anatomy viewers have watched many cast members come and go. Katherine Heigl, who played Dr. Izzie Stevens, became one of the first leading actors to leave the medical drama. Before Katherine’s exit, though, the Firefly Lane star had expressed her opinions about the Shonda Rhimes show’s work environment, which soon affected her acting career.
Unlike Katherine, Ellen Pompeo decided not to speak about her behind-the-scenes experiences until much later publicly. However, her relationship with her former co-star changed once she chose to remain on the show as Dr. Meredith Grey. So, are Ellen and Katherine friends today?
Ellen Pompeo supported Katherine Heigl speaking out against ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ – are they friends?
Ellen and Katherine remained friends after the Knocked Up actress left the show. Once she filmed her final episode, “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked,” Katherine confirmed in her April 2010 cover story for Entertainment Weekly that it would be her last. The actress also said she and Ellen still “text a lot” even though they’re no longer co-workers, and Katherine was eager to meet Ellen’s daughter, Stella Luna Ivery. Stella was born during Katherine’s final season.
Years after Katherine’s exit as Izzie, Ellen has discussed her friend in interviews. Although she rarely talks about their personal relationship, the Grey’s OG has shared how much she misses Katherine, Sandra Oh, and the rest of the original Seattle Grace surgeons. In April 2022, Ellen spoke about Katherine’s 2009 comments about Grey’s’ working conditions. The 27 Dresses star said the cast worked 17-hour workdays, which she found to be “cruel and mean.”
In her podcast, Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo, Ellen said that, even though she’s “very lucky” she can “cut back” her time filming the show now, she ultimately agreed with Katherine for voicing her concerns back then.
“I remember Heigl said something on a talk show about the insane hours we were working, but she was 100 percent right — and had she said that today she'd be a complete hero, but she was ahead of her time,” the actress said of Katherine’s David Letterman interview.
"Of course, let's slam a woman and call her ungrateful when the truth is, she's 100 percent honest, and it's absolutely correct what she said.”
“And she was f--king ballsy for saying it,” Ellen added. “And she was telling the truth. She wasn't lying. Also, when you're younger, you're so excited to be there, and you're so happy to be invited to the party that you're willing to do whatever it is they're asking you to do."
Is Katherine Heigl coming back to ‘Grey’s Anatomy?’
The simple answer is no. While speaking with Entertainment Tonight, Katherine said the producers hadn’t approached her to revive her character and don’t think it will happen. However, Grey’s has brought several beloved doctors back on the show, as Patrick Dempsey returned as Meredith’s husband, Derek Shepherd, in Season 17.
“I would never say never,” Katherine said. “But it’s not likely.”
Although she believes her time on Grey’s officially ended in 2010, her character helped close out longtime actor Justin Chambers’ time on the show. When the actor quit the show in January 2020, his character, Alex Karev, left his job and wife, Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington), to be with Izzie. The episode shows that Izzie secretly had twins using her and Alex’s embryos. Katherine referred to the characters’ reunion as an “a--hole move.”
Watch new episodes of Grey’s Anatomy Thursday nights on ABC at 9 p.m. EST.