One of TV’s longest-running dramas has finally (and officially) come to an end: Katherine Heigl confirms in this week’s exclusive Entertainment Weekly cover story — penned by yours truly! — that she is leaving Grey’s Anatomy.
“I am done,” declares Heigl. “We just finalized our agreement. Everyone had been working really hard to find an amicable and gracious way of letting go and moving on. It’s sad but it’s what I wanted.”
The 31-year-old actress reveals that it was family issues, not her burgeoning film career, that prompted her to approach series creator Shonda Rhimes and ask to be let out of her contract 18 months early.
“I started a family and it changed everything for me,” says Heigl, who took a three-month family leave from Grey’s this season to bond with her newly-adopted daughter, Naleigh. “It changed my desire to work full-time.”
Although she was scheduled to appear in this season’s final five episodes, that is no longer happening. As a result, the Jan. 21 episode was her last as Izzie. “I know I’m disappointing the fans,” she says. “I just had to make a choice. I hope I made the right one.”
In response, ABC Studios issued the following statement exclusively to EW: “By mutual agreement, Katherine Heigl has ended her successful run as Dr. Isobel Stevens. The studio wishes her well. Everyone at Grey’s Anatomy is now focused on delivering a shocking season finale and a great show for seasons to come.”
The wide-ranging and candid Q&A, during which Heigl comes clean about every aspect of her rocky six-year tenure — including the fights (Isaiahgate), the feuds (Emmygate), the controversies (Gizzie), and the mistakes she made along the way (17-hour daygate) — hits newsstands on Friday. Look for additional excerpts (as well as details on the afternoon I spent last week in, ahem, Heigl’s home) tomorrow morning right here.
In the meantime, share your thoughts on Heigl’s departure below. And congratulate me on my second EW cover story!