Katherine Heigl first captured the attention of viewers with her role as an alien in the TV series Roswell, going on to star as Dr Isobel ‘Izzy’ Stevens in the popular Grey’s Anatomy. Transitioning from TV to the big screen is usually a difficult move for an actor, but Heigl has done it effortlessly, starring in the comedies Knocked Up and 27 Dresses.
In The Ugly Truth she portrays Abby Richter, the producer of a morning chat show with a waning audience. When Mike Chadway (Gerard Bulter), a crass ‘shock jock’ is added to the program to spew out his chauvinistic views on women and relationships, Abby is horrified when the ratings begin to soar.
With Izzy being so well known on Grey’s Anatomy, do you look for characters that are totally unlike her, or do you see Abby as a cousin or a sexier, R-rated version
Absolutely, I definitely want to go out and explore different personalities and different people. But, at the end of the day, I feel on television it’s really hard to divorce me completely from the role. It’s nine months a year, it’s every day; sometimes it’s an 80-hour week. The way I walk, talk and gesture is going to slip in there. I can’t completely remove that. I thought I maybe I could for a film, but I don’t think I can. I’m always going to show up in these roles. Something of me is always going to surface. They’re not Izzy, but I like the distant cousin analogy.
How tough was it to get through some of the racy dialogue with Gerard Butler?
For me, I talk like that all the time, anyway. I try to actually rein that in most of the time. That was very freeing for me. I could just be me. I love raunchy humor. I just do. I don’t know why. I should probably get a little more sophisticated, but I just think it’s hilarious, and it’s what makes me laugh the hardest and the most. I’m just not terribly precious about that sort of stuff, unless you’re going really far, but even then it’s still funny.
What do you think this movie says about the battle of the sexes
I would hope that it’s an exaggeration of where men and women are at. I can’t speak for men, because I haven’t really been around a lot of men who act like Mike Chadway. I’ve been around a lot of men who joke like Mike Chadway, but don’t actually believe that and, if they do, then they’re very good actors. I know, for me, Abby is only a small exaggeration of women now, or at least me and my friends.
I went the whole make a list route. I’m a little OCD. I’m very particular about how I like things and how I want things. Maybe it is talking about the differences, but I think the most important part of the movie was talking about how, in spite of those difference you compromise. You don’t have to necessarily completely change who you are to be with someone that you want to be with, but you do have to compromise a little bit. You have to let go a little bit of yourself. There is just that fine line between desperate and honest.
Can you talk about the success of R-rated comedies?
I actually have a really strong opinion about this. I’m a 30-year-old woman and, as much as I love that younger audience and I love those kind of movies, and I loved 27 Dresses and had a great time making it, I still feel like I want to tell a real story to people my age and to my generation. When you have to censor so much for that PG-13 rating, it starts to get a little cute and it starts to feel a little fantasy. Yes, all romantic comedies have that element of fantasy, but the thing I love most about this movie is that they do end up together. Who knows if they end up happily ever after together, but they do end up together and it doesn’t feel like the fantasy. It felt like real life. It felt like two people, who actually were really sexually attracted to one another, and then, ultimately, emotionally attracted to one another, came together in a world that is a grown up’s world and not the cartoon version. It’s not that I always want to do R-rated movies, or that I feel like they’re the most honest movies out there. There was just something about the ability to be crass, and drop the F-bomb on occasion that felt real to me. It felt like the world I actually live in, with my friends and my family. Maybe that sounds bad.
How is it to be back to work on Grey’s Anatomy?
I’m actually really mad at them right now because they worked me on Wednesday for 17 hours, and I thought that was mean. But it’s exciting to be back because I’ve missed my friends, and it is really fun to see everybody. It’s such a strange thing. It’s been two months, but it doesn’t feel like any time has passed at all because you’re right back in the same set, with same wardrobe and the same people. It feels like maybe you haven’t seen each other for the weekend, aside from Ellen Pompeo’s growing belly. The last time I saw her, it was just a tiny bump and now she’s got a basketball, and it’s weird. Other than that, nothing has changed and it’s wonderful, except for the absence of T.R. Knight. That was very strange and really hard, because T.R. provided so much fun, joy and levity for me and everyone else.