Rhimes opened up to — who else? — Oprah Winfrey about Heigl's exit in an interview for Oprah's Next Chapter. Winfrey asked the Grey's creator about Heigl's behavior in 2008, when she withdrew her name from consideration for an Emmy award because she didn't feel the writing was deserving of a nomination. (Heigl had won the prize for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama the year before.)
"On some level, it stung and on some level I was not surprised," Rhimes told Winfrey coolly before echoing a piece of Oprah advice that she said had served her well over the years. "When people show you who they are, believe them."
At the time of her withdrawal, Heigl said in a statement: "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention. In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials."
After taking subsequent leaves of absences from Grey's Anatomy on more than one occasion, Heigl officially left Seattle Grace in 2010, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family. Her character Izzie left Seattle to start a new life elsewhere.
"Everyone had been working really hard to find an amicable and gracious way of letting go and moving on," she said at the time. "It's sad but it's what I wanted."
In January of this year, Heigl said she'd like to return to the show and revisit Izzie's story line — but Rhimes doesn't appear to be on board with the idea.
"It was really nice to hear her appreciating the show," Rhimes told TV Guide in March. "We are on a track we have been planning, and the idea of changing that track is not something we are interested in right now."
Watch part of Rhimes' interview with Oprah below: