Blast from the past? Isaiah Washington slammed Grey's Anatomy co-star Katherine Heigl more than a decade after his controversial exit from the show.
"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 57-year-old actor tweeted on Monday, November 16, alongside a picture of Heigl, 41.
Washington took to Twitter to call Heigl "the first Karen" and proceeded to drag Chandra Wilson — who plays Miranda Bailey — into the bitter feud. "Your opinions are your own, but you are a fool, a liberal and misguided feminist to even try and defend this woman," he tweeted at a fan who stood by 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."
"I've learned that all money ain’t good money and no amount of money can replace your dignity and integrity. Some call it living by your principles," he added in another tweet.
In 2006, reports surfaced that Washington — who played Preston Burke on the show — used a homophobic slur while arguing on set with Patrick Dempsey. Many people felt the outburst was aimed at co-star T.R. Knight's sexuality at the time. Knight — who played George O'Malley — later revealed in January 2007 that hearing Washington use the word, "f****t," helped him come out as gay.
After the actor denied using the word at the Golden Globes in 2007, Heigl told Access Hollywood that her former co-star "needs to just not speak in public, period. I'm sorry, that did not need to be said, I'm not okay with it. I just feel like this is something that should be very much in-house we need to deal with," she added. "... T.R. is my best friend. I will throw down for that kid."
"Katherine stood up for her close friend twice when Isaiah publicly outed him and called him a f****t," a source close to Heigl told Us Weekly. "That's hate talk, not free speech. She is proud that she stood up for him. Katherine is and always will be an advocate and ally to LGBTQ community."
ABC announced Washington wasn't asked back for season 4 of Grey's Anatomy months after the scandal. Washington admitted to using the word in the dispute with Dempsey two years later on Larry King Live. "I said, 'I don't need Ellen, I can act,'" he said 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," he confessed. "'There's no way you're going to treat me like the B-word, the P-word or the F-word.'" Still he added, "I am not homophobic — in no way, shape or form."
Washington later made a re-appearance on Grey's Anatomy in 2014 to wrap up Sandra Oh's storyline on the show. "My first decision and my first responsibility is to the story," showrunner Shonda Rhimes explained of her decision to let Washington back. "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 also noted she wanted to "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," she added.
Grey's Anatomy is currently in its 17th season. The season premiere shocked fans when Dempsey, 54, made a bombshell return as Dr. McDreamy. Since leaving the show in 2015, the actor said it was really "great" to see everyone and noted the "dynamic behind the camera had changed."
"There's much more diversity within the crew. There was a nice balance, too, of equality that I was seeing. So, culturally, there was a lot of things that were different, that I thought were very positive and very inspiring, actually," Dempsey explained.