Her career plummeted because she's "ungrateful." But is that a trait we only expect from female stars? "I've never really been America's sweetheart, but for a minute I think that's what they wanted me to be. And I had 'em for a second thinking maybe I was. And then I opened my mouth and it was clear I wasn't."
Katherine Heigl told Elle in 2011. In the last five years, she's gone from big-budget romantic comedies to Nyquil commercials. Why? Heigl has what the industry calls a “likeability problem” — and that problem is being "ungrateful" in a studio system where only male actors are allowed to.
Heigl’s reputation for being “ungrateful” began when she said that Knocked Up, the 2007 comedy from much-beloved Judd Apatow, was "a little sexist. 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?” The backlash was immediate, message boards and blogs calling her uptight, bitchy, a traitor, and — overwhelmingly — "ungrateful." However, Heigl’s hardly the only actor who’s pointed out flaws in her own movie. Earlier this summer, Jim Carrey slammed the violence in Kick-Ass 2, and there are copious other male examples: Shia LaBeouf, George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, David Cross. Their careers continue to flourish.
In 2008 Heigl turned down an Emmy nomination for Grey’s Anatomy because she felt that the quality of the writing hadn’t earned her one. Again, she was called ungrateful. And again, there's an extensive list of male actors who have crapped on the same shows that propelled them to stardom: Kevin Bacon, Jaleel White, Jason Segel, Tate Donovan — even T.R. Knight, also about Grey’s. The word "ungrateful" is never applied to them — male actors
aren't expected to kotow to the showrunners who gave them their start. Or, for that matter, to anybody.
Case in point: Studio execs take issue with Heigl for her temper and requests for creative control.
It goes without saying that there’s no shortage of big-budget male actors whose tantrums and pretensions are well-known to the industry and blogs alike. Russell Crowe, duh. Edward Norton, who demanded so much creative control on 2008’s Incredible Hulk that he was finally fired from the sequel.
Christian Bale, whose infamous tirade at a crewmember on the set of The Dark Knight went viral. But these instances are attributed to their brilliance and talent. While their tantrums appear on gossip blogs for a few days, these fits have done nothing but further mythologize their star power.
And the final point: Yes, Heigl requests a big fat paycheck (example: $13 million for The Ugly Truth). But let’s put this into perspective: Adam Sandler got $25 million for Anger Management. Robert Downey Jr. got $75 million for Iron Man 3 — and, again, his bad reputation has only added to his net worth. Hugh Jackman tops out at $100 million for Wolverine. Heigl's hard-nosed requests are for a fraction of their paychecks. Source.