Josh Duhamel stood by his former colleague Katherine Heigl who he said got a "bad rap" for being outspoken about the treatment of women in the industry.
Hollywood had not yet undergone a serious reckoning for its sexist, misogynistic history when Heigl was one of the few women who spoke critically of the various injustices in the industry.
Her honest complaints came at a cost—her career suffered for it.
Duhamel—who currently stars in Shotgun Wedding opposite Jennifer Lopez—appeared as a guest on the Chicks in the Office podcast and defended Heigl.
The two previously worked together in 2010’s Life as We Know It and 2011’s New Year’s Eve. Despite her "difficult to work with" reputation, Duhamel had a different recollection of his own experience.
You can watch him reflect fondly on his professional relationship with Heigl in the clips below.
Heigl's name came up during a discussion about some of Duhamel's more memorable on-screen kisses.
The actor mentioned some of his female co-stars like Elisha Cuthbert –whom he worked with in 2022’s Bandit—and Kate Bosworth–with whom he worked in 2004's Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!.
“Katie Heigl gets a bad rap, but she’s awesome. She’s great.”
“She probably said some things that she wishes she could’ve taken back.
"But my experience ... my on- or off-screen [experience] with her was awesome.”
You can see the entire interview from the Chicks in the Office podcast here:
Last April, Heigl's Grey's Anatomy co-star Ellen Pompeo agreed with the statements Heigl made in 2009 as a guest on the The Late Show with David Letterman.
At the time of Grey's sixth season, Heigl called out the working conditions and long hours on the set of the long-running medical drama. Her being vocal about her concerns labeled her as "difficult to work with" and "unprofessional."
After having been an original cast member of Grey's as Dr. Izzie Stevens from 2005 to 2010, Heigl was written off the show after sparring with the show's producers and even showrunner Shonda Rhimes over grueling work hours and her character development.
Reflecting on working with Heigl in retrospect, Pompeo said on her Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo podcast:
"I remember Heigl said something on a talk show about the insane hours we were working and she was 100 percent right."
In 2008, Heigl refused to submit her name for Emmy consideration for her work in Grey's.
She released a statement at the time expressing her decision not to compete:
“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.”
”In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.”
She disclosed in a 2008 interview with Vanity Fair her 2007 hit comedy film Knocked Up was "a little sexist" and it "paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys."
Her comment was made when Judd Apatow–who co-produced and directed the movie–was at the height of his career.
Although he didn't outright disagree with her accusations, he said:
"I'm just shocked she [Heigl] used the word shrew. I mean, what is this, the 1600s?"
He added the characters in the film:
"Are sexist at times... but it's really about immature people who are afraid of women and relationships and learn to grow up."
The backlash in response to her interview led to the derailment of her career which eventually took a toll on her mental health.
In 2021, she told The Washington Post:
“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.”
“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 s**t pisses me off.”