Patrick Dempsey is back on Grey’s Anatomy, Isaiah Washington is feuding with Katherine Heigl … what year is it again? More than a decade after his controversial exit from the ABC medical drama, Washington took to Twitter to slam Heigl.
“This woman once proclaimed that I should ‘never’ be allowed to speak publicly again. The world agreed with her proclamation back then and protested for my job and my head in 65 languages. I wish I was on Twitter in 2007, because I will NEVER stop exercising my free speech,” the actor, 57, tweeted on Monday, November 16, alongside a picture of the 41-year-old actress.
Back in October 2006, reports surfaced that Washington, who played Preston Burke, used a homophobic slur during a fight with Dempsey, 54, on set. T.R. Knight (George O’Malley) later revealed in January 2007 that hearing Washington use the word “f—-t” encouraged him to come out as gay. After the former 100 star denied using the slur at the Golden Globes that month, Heigl (Izzie Stevens) told Access Hollywood that her then-costar “needs to just not speak in public, period.”
On Monday, Washington went on to call Heigl “the first Karen” and dragged Chandra Wilson, who has played Miranda Bailey since season 1, into the drama.
“Your opinions are your own, but you are a fool, a liberal and misguided feminist to even try and defend this woman,” Washington tweeted at a fan defending Heigl. “You weren’t there, so die on this hill, whoever you are. She could have cared less about her gay friend. Chandra Wilson knows all about that too.”
When another fan asked why he is dredging up the past, Washington added, “Because it’s the TRUTH. The End.”
A source close to Heigl, meanwhile, tells Us Weekly that the Suits alum stands by her decision to have Knight’s back.
“Katherine stood up for her close friend twice when Isaiah publicly outed him and called him a f—–t. That’s hate talk, not free speech,” the insider said. “She is proud that she stood up for him. Katherine is and always will be an advocate and ally to LGBTQ community.”
Months after the scandal first broke, ABC announced that Washington was not asked back for season 4 of Grey’s Anatomy. In July 2007, he admitted that he used the word while arguing with Dempsey about being late to work.
“I said, ‘I don’t need Ellen, I can act,’” he said on Larry King Live at the time, referring to Ellen Pompeo. “And that was the moment that sent it into a different zone. [Dempsey] became unhinged, sprayed spittle in my face. … I said several bad words. ‘There’s no way you’re going to treat me like the B-word, the P-word or the F-word.’ … I am not homophobic – in no way, shape or form.”
Knight, for his part, left Grey’s Anatomy after season 5 and alleged that creator Shonda Rhimes was “concerned” about him coming out “so close” to the drama with Washington. Rhimes denied his claims at the time.
“I said, ‘If you want to come out, that’s awesome. We’ll totally support that.’ And then he went away, thought about it, and came back and said, ‘I’m going to make this statement.’ I remember saying to [executive producer] Betsy Beers, ‘This is our proudest day here. T.R. got to come out, and I got to say to him that it wouldn’t affect his character’ — because he was concerned that he was going to come out and George would suddenly be gay,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I was like, ‘We are not going to do that.’ The idea that a gay actor can’t play a straight man is insulting.”
Several months after Knight’s departure, Heigl left Grey’s Anatomy during season 6 in 2010. While Knight, whose character died, and Heigl have yet to return, Washington made a surprising comeback to the long-running series for one episode in 2014 to help wrap up Sandra Oh’s story line.
“My first decision and my first responsibility is to the story. I have to be the keeper of the story and make sure that we’re telling the story we need to tell, regardless of whatever outside factors are involved or whatever history is involved and, frankly, Sandra was so lovely and open to it. It has been a really kind of amazing experience,” Rhimes told EW about the decision.
The former showrunner added: “I also want to just be clear that Isaiah is a person that we all love and have loved for a very long time. I feel like there have been a lot of people that have been like, ‘How can you do this?’ And I feel very strongly and fully believe in people’s ability to grow and change and learn from their mistakes and when they know better, to do better. If people don’t think that, over the course of seven years, it’s possible for a human being to change, then there really is no future for the human race at all.”
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