Speaking out. Ellen Pompeo defended her former Grey’s Anatomy costar Katherine Heigl‘s notorious complaints about the show’s long working hours. The actress behind Meredith Grey said Katherine would “be a hero today.”

Back in 2009, Katherine, 43, came under fire for calling out the show’s “17-hour workdays” during an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman. The longtime Grey’s Anatomy star, 52, reflected on the topic during the Wednesday, April 20, episode of her podcast “Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo.”

“I’m very lucky now with my schedule on Grey’s,” Ellen said. “I get to cut back and overall, I’m happy for the production as a whole, because we have cut back tremendously. Back in the day, we used to do crazy, crazy hours.”

The ABC star continued, “I remember Heigl said something on a talk show about the insane hours we were working, but she was 100 percent right — and had she said that today she’d be a complete hero, but she was ahead of her time.”

Ellen Pompeo Defends Katherine Heigl's Notorious Complaints About 'Grey's Anatomy' Working Hours

She then noted that Katherine faced unfair backlash for making the comment. “Of course, let’s slam a woman and call her ungrateful when the truth is she’s 100 percent honest, and it’s absolutely correct what she said,” Ellen continued. “And she was f–king ballsy for saying it. And she was telling the truth. She wasn’t lying. Also, when you’re younger, you’re so excited to be there and you’re so happy to be invited to the party that you’re willing to do whatever it is they’re asking you to do.”

During the 2009 interview, Katherine spoke to David Letterman, 75, about the first day back on set of the medical drama. “Our first day back was Wednesday, and I’m going to keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them, it was a 17-hour workday,” she said. The Firefly Lane actress added that it was “cruel and mean.”

Following the talk show appearance, the actress faced severe backlash and eventually exited the show in 2010. Nearly a decade after she quit Grey’s Anatomy, Katherine reflected on the comments in a candid Instagram post.

“Some of you may remember over ten years ago I was very vocal about the absurdity of the working hours crews and actors were being forced into by production,” Katherine captioned an Instagram post in September 2021. “Even Diane Sawyer interviewed me and not so kindly informed me ‘no one feels sorry for you.’ I very publicly and for many, many years after, got my ass kicked for speaking up.”

Katherine admitted the backlash led her to “struggle with self-confidence and self-worth,” adding that she let herself “be convinced that [she] was wrong.”

“So, I speak up today and say with zero hesitation or regret…14, 16, 17, 18-hour work days are NOT safe,” Katherine wrote. “They are NOT healthy. They cannot and should NO longer be tolerated.”

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