The Hollywood curse of the ‘difficult’ woman

A Hollywood 'difficult' woman, Katherine Heigl
Katherine Heigl: The most infamous 'difficult' woman in Hollywood. Source: www.lukeford.net (via Wikimedia Commons)
For many actresses, Hollywood's curse of the 'difficult' woman stunted their careers. Things have begun to change, but how much?

By Tirion Davies | Editor-in-Chief

We often hear of actresses in Hollywood who are ‘difficult to work with’, or are incredibly ‘bossy’. Yet, after the height of the MeToo movement, it’s becoming more apparent that perhaps those who were once branded ‘difficult’ were simply those voicing their opinions.

Actress Katherine Heigl is synonymous in Hollywood with the phrase ‘difficult to work with’ since her work in both 2007’s Knocked Up and her time on Grey’s Anatomy.

In 2008, Heigl was the cover star for Vanity Fair, where she noted in her interview that although she enjoyed her time working on Knocked Up, she did not approve of the portrayal of women. She told the magazine that she thought the film showcased the male characters like Seth Rogen’s Ben Stone as “lovable, goofy, fun-loving” whilst the females characters such as the one she portrayed as being “humourless and uptight”.

At the time, both the director Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen took offence, with Apatow admitting he believed he deserved an apology for Heigl’s comments. Their responses did not help Heigl’s reputation in the film industry, and it wasn’t until 2016 that Rogen noted he may have taken offence when it was not needed.

Heigl removed herself from the Emmys race in 2008, saying she didn’t think the material she was given on Grey’s Anatomy warranted her a nomination. She was removed from the show by 2010.

Janet Hubert faced a similar fate after her Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star Will Smith commented unkindly on her departure of the show, which she said made it difficult for her to find work.

Hubert claims she was fired from the show due to Smith, although this has not been confirmed. Janet Hubert has since said she left the show because the terms of the contract offered to her were not adequate, in particular for a mother attempting to remove herself from an abusive relationship.

In retrospect, Will Smith has said he believed Ms Hubert hated him, and he notes he had a part to play in her removal, although he did not ask for it directly.

The actress noted that once she left the show, she was considered hard to work with and that her career significantly stalled as a result of noting her displeasure at her contract. In a 2020 HBO Max reunion, Hubert even called Smith’s comments a “kiss of death”.

For many actresses, voicing their opinion became a quickfire way for them to become blacklisted in the business. Things are beginning to change, however.

The world is beginning to notice that ‘difficult to work with’ is not what it seems. Many of these people, particularly women, are once again being hired in Hollywood. It does not mean that the industry is perfect, however.

Hollywood is slowly becoming more diverse, and in the wake of the MeToo movement, more and more people are open to noting when they think something is unfair.

According to Deborah Coughlin, author of Outspoken: 50 Speeches by Incredible Women, “I’m not sure MeToo showed women that it isn’t risky to speak out, it just showed women there are occasions when the risk is worth taking”.

Yn aml, rydym yn clywed am actorion yn Hollywood sy’n cael ei alw’n ‘anodd i weithio gyda nhw’. Ond, o ganlyniad i’r symudiad MeToo, mae’n fwy ac yn fwy amlwg bod yr air ‘anodd’ wedi’i selio ar fenywod sy’n lleisio’u barn.

Un sy’n aml yn cael ei chynnwys fel ‘anodd i weithio gyda nhw’ yw Katherine Heigl, sydd wedi gweithio ar ffilmiau megis Knocked Up a rhaglenni teledu megis Grey’s Anatomy.

Yn 2008, pan oedd Heigl yn wneud cyfweliad gyda Vanity Fair, wnaeth yr actores sôn er fe wnaeth hi fwynhau gweithio ar y ffilm Knocked Up, doedd hi ddim yn cytuno gyda’r ffordd yr oedd y ffilm yn portreadu menywod. Dywedodd Heigl yr oedd hi’n teimlo bod y ffilm yn portreadu dynion fel pobl hwyl, hapus, tra’r oedd y menywod yn y ffilm wedi’i phortreadu fel llym.

Ar y cyfnod, wnaeth cyfarwyddwr y ffilm, Judd Apatow, a’r actor Seth Rogen nodi eu bod wedi’u chwithio gan yr hyn fe wnaeth Heigl sôn. Dywedodd Apatow ei bod yn haeddu ymddiheuriad gan Heigl. I nifer, yr oedd sylwadau Apatow a Rogen wedi eu troi nhwyn erbyn Heigl, gyda Rogen ond yn sôn yn 2016 ei bod wedi bod yn annheg.

I Janet Hubert, actores ar y rhaglen Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, yr oedd sylwadau Will Smith wedi effeithio’n sylweddol ar ei gyrfa. Wnaeth Smith sôn am Hubert yn gadael y rhaglen mewn ffordd annheg, oedd yn wneud i’r actores teimlo ei bod wedi colli nifer o gyfleoedd o ganlyniad.

Gadawodd Hubert y rhaglen oherwydd yr oedd hi’n teimlo bod ei chytundeb yn annheg, yn enwedig i fam yn ceisio dianc rhag perthynas difrïol.

Nawr, mae Will Smith wedi nodi yr oedd ef yn teimlo bod ganddo rôl i chwarae yn Hubert yn gadael y rhaglen, ac yn ymddiheuro.

Ar raglen HBO Max yn 2020, yn edrych ar y rhaglen eto, fe wnaeth Janet Hubert nodi bod sylwadau Smith yn “kiss of death” i’w gyrfa.

Mae’r byd erbyn hyn wedi dechrau sylweddoli bod ‘anodd i weithio gyda nhw’ yn annheg. Mae nifer o’r bobl yma, yn benodol menywod, yn dechrau derbyn swyddi yn Hollywood unwaith eto. Ond, nid yw hyn yn meddwl bod y busnes yn berffaith.

Yn fyd wedi’r cyfnod MeToo, mae Hollywood wedi dechrau dod yn fwy amrywiol, a diolch byth, mae menywod yn sylweddoli bod hawl iddynt nodi pan bod pethau’n annheg.

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