How the ‘Knocked Up’ feud derailed Katherine Heigl’s career
(Credit: Netflix)

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How the 'Knocked Up' feud derailed Katherine Heigl's career

From the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in Grey’s Anatomy to the silver screen in a string of successful romantic comedies, Katherine Heigl seemed poised for Hollywood stardom. However, a cloud of controversy descended upon her career following her role in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up.

Heigl’s candid remarks about the film’s alleged sexism sparked a feud that not only tarnished her reputation. It also served as a turning point in her career trajectory.

In a 2008 interview with Vanity Fair, Heigl labelled Knocked Up as “a little sexist” and expressed dissatisfaction with her character in the film. These comments, though candid, ignited a firestorm of backlash from both Apatow and her co-star, Seth Rogen. Apatow expressed shock at Heigl’s choice of words, while Rogen admitted to feeling “hurt” and somewhat “betrayed” by her critique.

In a discussion on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show, Rogen revealed his initial enthusiasm for working with Heigl and expressed a desire to collaborate on future projects. However, he noted that Heigl’s public criticism of the film prompted him to reassess their working relationship. “People seemed to like it,” he said. “We were funny together. I was having a really good time, and then when I heard afterward that she didn’t like it, that she seemed to not like the process, and she did not like the end product either, I think when that happens — also your trust feels somewhat betrayed.”

Despite this, Rogen maintained that he harboured no ill will toward Heigl and acknowledged her right to voice her opinions. “I respect the fact that perhaps she realises that it has hurt her career, and I don’t want that to have happened to her at all because I’ve said a thousand stupid things, and I really like her.” Rogen also added, “The only people who in this situation should in any way take anything from it is me and Judd because we’re the ones she was talking about.”

Years later, Heigl expressed regret over her comments, conceding that she disliked how her character was portrayed but acknowledging that she mishandled the situation. In hindsight, she wished she had addressed her concerns privately rather than airing them in a public forum.

Heigl’s experience with the fallout from Knocked Up shines a spotlight on the pervasive gender double standard in Hollywood. While male actors are often praised for their candour and perceived as assertive, their female counterparts risk being labelled as difficult or uncooperative for similar behaviour. Robert Pattinson has actively criticised and mocked Twilight, an act he gained even more fanfare for. Heigl’s outspokenness, far from being celebrated, became a liability that haunted her career for years to come.

The repercussions of the Knocked Up feud reverberated throughout Heigl’s career, contributing to a decline in her leading roles and casting opportunities. Even Rogen commented on the unfairness of the whole thing: “For other people to not work with her because she didn’t like her experience with us is—I think is crazy.”

Knocked Up is currently storming on the top ten films chart on Netflix US, where it is stationed at the eighth spot.