James Marsden is standing up for former costar Katherine Heigl after the actress recently opened up about being perceived as "difficult" in Hollywood.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Heigl explained that looking back at how she was described in her twenties "pisses me off."
"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,'" the actress said. "What is your definition of difficult? Somebody with an opinion that you don't like? Now, I'm 42, and that s— pisses me off."
Her 27 Dresses costar, Marsden, told the Post that he always attributed her opinions to her "strength of character."
"She has very strong convictions and strong opinions on certain things, and she doesn't back down from letting you know if she feels like she's been wronged in any way," Marsden said. "I've always seen that as just strength of character."
Though the actor, 47, said he understood how her comments could be "construed as being difficult or ungrateful or whatever," those were never Heigl's intentions.
"But if you know Katie, it's simply because she has the courage to stand behind something she believes," he said.
The Enchanted star went on to share that he always admired Heigl's "drive," and is not surprised that she's signed on to more executive roles. Heigl is both starring in and executively producing the upcoming new Netflix series Firefly Lane.
"One element of Katie that I've always thought would define her was her drive," Marsden said. "I never thought that she was going to be one that idles well. She's not going to sit there. She's going to take control and do it her way."
Much of Heigl's reputation was formed during her time on Grey's Anatomy from 2005 to 2010.
Heigl won an Emmy award for her role as Izzy Stevens on the long-running medical drama, but chose to withdraw from the Emmy race the following year. She also blamed producers for scheduling her for 17-hour workdays while production was reportedly trying to accommodate her schedule.
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While Heigl didn't mention these dramas directly, she told the Post, "At the time, I was just quickly told to shut the f— up. The more I said I was sorry, the more they wanted it.
"The more terrified and scared I was of doing something wrong, the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong," she said.
Eventually this began to take a mental toll on Heigl, telling the Post that she she suffered from severe anxiety in the years that followed.
"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," said Heigl. "I didn't realize how much anxiety I was living with until I got so bad that I had to really seek help. You can do a lot of inner soul work, but I'm a big fan of Zoloft."
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