Why Katherine Heigl is a changed woman, as she joins Foxtel legal drama, Suits
IT’S difficult to name a more outspoken, ballsy Hollywood A-lister than Katherine Heigl.
Case in point: after she and husband Josh Kelley bingewatched Suits, she picked up the phone and called its showrunner Aaron Korsh.
After speaking with the Emmywinning, ex- Grey’s Anatomy actress, Korsh promptly created her a role as Samantha Wheeler, the newest lawyer to join season eight of the legal drama.
As Heigl tells TV Guide: “I was coming into the show as a massive fan-girl and wasn’t thinking about the pressure on me until I got there. And then I realised, ‘ I really hope I don’t mess up my favourite show by being in it!’”
Even those with a passing interest in the series will know there have been some major changes to personnel on the popular drama.
There was the departure of Patrick J. Adams, who played legal savant Mike Ross; but it was the exit of his on- screen wife, played by Meghan Markle, which drew bigger headlines – leaving as she did to marry Prince Harry and assume her new role as the first ever Duchess of Sussex.
Heigl says she was disappointed not to have met Markle.
“Like everyone else, I feel like I know her as Rachel [Zane], who I’ve been watching on Suits for the past seven years,” she says.
“So, it’s crazy to now see her in this new role as royalty.” Recurring stars Dule Hill ( The
West Wing) and Amanda Schull ( Pretty Little Liars) have also been promoted to series regulars.
Heigl has long been one of Hollywood’s most polarising figures, described and dismissed as ‘difficult’. It’s a tag which often follows women who speak their mind, though some of Heigl’s actions have also been poorly received.
She famously withdrew herself from Emmy award contention in 2008 because she thought the writing material for her character, Izzie Stevens in Grey’s “didn’t warrant an Emmy nomination.”
Additionally, she made disparaging comments about her 2007 breakout hit Knocked Up, in which she starred opposite Seth Rogen.
So does she regret any of those comments which proved rather hurtful to her co- stars, writers and directors at the time?
“My career took off in my 20s and when it first took off, I’m not going to deny there was some arrogance,” she says. “I was feeling pretty untouchable and pretty on top of the world. I felt like I had worked really hard to get there, so I was really gonna relish it. And now, sometimes I’ll look at magazine covers from that time and be, ‘Girl, take it down a notch!’”
Heigl attended therapy sessions after the negative fallout from the Emmy awards, which proved to be too traumatic for her to handle on her own.
“There’s some of that feeling that I wish in a way I had known better,” she says. “But like a mother to your younger self, I just have so much more forgiveness for that girl now than I did a couple of years ago. I was really mad at her for a long time and now I feel that, ‘ It’s all right girl’.”
She chuckles, and adds, “everybody acts like an asshole in their 20s.”
Heigl has found firmer foundations in her private life, after marrying musician Kelley in 2007. Two years later, they adopted a daughter, Nancy Leigh, from South Korea (where Heigl’s adoptive sister was born); and in 2012 they adopted a second daughter, Adalaide.
In December 2016, Heigl gave birth to a son, Joshua Bishop.
“My children have given me perspective,” she says. “I know what really matters now. My career has always mattered to me. I’ve always been an ambitious person and I love what I do, but nothing feels like big stuff anymore until your kid’s sick or until your kid’s going through something hard and you need to be there for them. That’s the big stuff.”
As far as keeping her marriage on an even keel, she notes: “Josh will go on a 10- day tour of Europe and I’ll stay home on those days. It’s a juggling act for both of us. He’s my best friend, so I get very lonely.”
Heigl will be turning 40 soon, but seems in no rush to make the milestone.
“Not for another few months!” she laughs. “You know, if it weren’t for this business, I’d find ageing a fascinating sort of science experiment. I probably find the best part about ageing is feeling like I have a stronger voice because of my age. I keep saying to people, ‘ Hey, I’m 39. You can’t tell me what to do. I have earned the right to tell you what I’m going to do!’”
She smiles, adding: “I’m sure I will hit 40 even harder.”
Hollywood may have to brace itself come that big day in November, with Heigl laughing: “That’s right. I will literally never listen to another person again!”
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