|The always beautiful Katherine Heigl|
'"AN unsmiling Katherine Heigl, at work on a new movie in this Pittsburgh suburb in August, stepped out of a chauffeured black S.U.V. and strode onto the set. She briskly filmed her scene and decamped to her air-conditioned trailer. “I admit that I’m particular about the way I work,” she said, stopping to stare at a stuffed rabbit on the floor. She continued her thought, but not before giving the bunny a swift kick.
True? Yes. But the morning could also be accurately described like this: Relaxing in her trailer between scenes, Katherine Heigl apologized for the mess — her daughter, Naleigh, had been playing with stuffed animals. Gracious and funny, Ms. Heigl talked about her struggle to balance work with family. “I guess everything in life requires some kind of compromising,” she said.
So which is it? Cold diva or likable mom?
As Ms. Heigl has learned the hard way, Hollywood and the news media aren’t big on nuance. Stars are supposed to come packaged with neat captions: bubbly (Julia Roberts), charming (George Clooney), quirky (Johnny Depp). When they step outside those assigned boxes, either in a film role or in real life, the machinery starts pushing them back.
Ms. Heigl, 31, has been assigned the diva box. Reporters are supposed to look for the smallest signal of imperiousness. (Bunny, kicked — scribble that down.) Forget that she’s warm and genuine in person. She demanded to be freed from the “Grey’s Anatomy” role that made her a star before her contract came to an end, and for that she will be punished.
Returning to theaters on Friday in “Life as We Know It,” Ms. Heigl has a chance to rehabilitate herself with an industry that is newly nervous about her drawing power — her last film, “Killers,” flopped badly — and redefine her public persona with the popped-claws celebrity media while winning back any “Grey’s Anatomy” fans who may have wandered. “Life as We Know It,” about two single people who become the parents of a little girl when their mutual best friends die in an accident, offers Ms. Heigl the kind of character that won her a fan base in the first place: big-hearted and goofy yet sympathetic and relatable. It’s a comedy, but she does a lot of crying.
Ms. Heigl unwittingly created her image problem by being honest in interviews. Her comments were not particularly scandalous but spawned tabloid feeding frenzies, because she didn’t just mouth promotional platitudes about her projects. When she told Vanity Fair that her 2007 movie “Knocked Up” was “a little bit sexist” — well, duh — the blowback was swift and severe, culminating with her co-star from that film, Seth Rogen, trashing her on Howard Stern’s radio show. Then Ms. Heigl complained about the quality of writing on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Again, duh: Shonda Rhimes, the creator of that show, had Ms. Heigl’s character, Izzie, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a deer.
But Ms. Heigl was quickly branded a traitor. In a Hollywood twist, her publicist fired her.
Her Q score, a measurement of a star’s likability, has even decreased. In the summer of 2008, 29 percent of people surveyed viewed her positively, according to Marketing Evaluations Inc. This summer it was down to 20 percent. Ms. Roberts, to compare, has a Q score of 38 percent.
It is difficult but not impossible to escape the kind of pigeonhole in which Ms. Heigl finds herself or, better yet, to shift the focus to the acting. Just ask Robert Downey Jr. But it’s usually harder for women in Hollywood to pull off the feat. (It took a decade for Drew Barrymore to escape her party-girl image. Russell Crowe eventually moved beyond his throwing-the-telephone moment. Angelina Jolie has yet to move past being branded a home wrecker.) Is Ms. Heigl willing to cram herself into a pretty-but-not-heard public persona, which is, after all, what the celebrity media want from blond bombshells like her?
She seemed to be struggling with the answer.
“I’ve been told I’m too forthright with opinions,” Ms. Heigl said with a sigh. “Well do they want a fierce woman or milquetoast? Should I be me, or should I pretend to be something I think people want? Pretending seems pretty ridiculous to me.” She paused to think for a moment before adding, “I didn’t think that what I was was so bad that I needed to hide it.”
Later, the topic came up again. “I feel totally normal on a set, probably because I’ve spent so much of my life on one. It’s when I go out into the real world that I don’t seem to know what to do.”
When it comes to her work, Ms. Heigl has proved herself a gifted actress — someone whom movie studios see as finally being able to pick up the romantic comedy baton from Ms. Barrymore and Ms. Roberts. Ms. Heigl won an Emmy Award for her work on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and critics have cheered the natural way she has inhabited roles like the pathological bridesmaid in “27 Dresses,” a 2008 comedy that was made for $30 million and sold more than $160 million at the global box office. She now earns an estimated $15 million per picture.
“Katherine Heigl’s early performances seem to imagine Grace Kelly at a frat party,” said Bob Gazzale, chief executive of the American Film Institute, “but I think a deeper look sees the gifts that Carole Lombard gave the world — stylish, sincere and silly — an artist whose talents run deep beneath the unmistakable glamour of a Hollywood star.”
Although her last film, the $75 million action comedy “Killers,” was a dud, selling only $92 million around the world, expectations are high for “Life as We Know It,” which cost only about $38 million to make. The film, directed by Greg Berlanti (TV’s “Everwood”) and co-starring Josh Duhamel (“Las Vegas”), tries to showcase Ms. Heigl’s range, giving her plenty of slapstick moments along with dramatic scenes. Her character, Holly, is the Type-A owner of a successful bakery, who, after the death of her best friend, receives co-custody of her friend’s baby. Mr. Duhamel’s Messer — a name that tells you all you need to know about him — forces Holly to learn how to roll with the punches.
“For those difficult scenes, where the character has to totally break down, you’re always waiting on bated breath — what happens if the actor can’t get there? — but Katie just did it on a dime,” said Mr. Berlanti, who was also startled to discover that Ms. Heigl has a photographic memory for lines. He recalled a day on the set when she was handed a new scene to learn on the fly.
“She looks at it, says it out loud once to herself, and didn’t need it again for the next eight hours,” he said.
Robert Luketic, who directed Ms. Heigl in “Killers” and “The Ugly Truth,” an inexpensive 2009 comedy that sold about $205 million in tickets, chalks the skill up to television. “Katie always comes prepared and nails it in one or two takes,” Mr. Luketic said.
“Life as We Know It” is also Ms. Heigl’s transition to active producing. She was involved with casting and fought for Mr. Duhamel after Warner Brothers, the studio behind the film, expressed concerns about his comedy chops. (His last lead role in a comedy, which came earlier this year in “When in Rome,” didn’t captivate audiences.) “I’m proud of myself for that,” she said. “People try to talk you out of things. They try to make the safe choice.”'
You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/movies/03heigl.html
This is a long but fantastic article. They do mention "OFTM" but never ask her to comment about it, so no new info yet. In fact, the interview took place, it seems, when she was in Pittsburgh filming "One for the Money."=(
To answer KH's question in the article, should she be herself or 'act' the way the media wants her to act? The road less traveled may be a harder road, but I have a hell of a lot more respect for a strong, intelligent woman who tells it like it is than a woman who is a people pleaser. Not that my opinion matters, but I like KH just the way she is....HERSELF!!