Katherine Marie Heigl (/ˈhaɪɡəl/; born November 24, 1978) is an American actress, film producer, and former fashion model. She started her career as a child model with Wilhelmina Models before turning her attention to acting, making her film debut in That Night (1992) and later appearing in My Father the Hero (1994) as well as Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995). Heigl then landed the role of Isabel Evans on The WB television series Roswell (1999–2002), for which she received nominations for Saturn and Teen Choice Awards.
From 2005 to 2010, Heigl starred as Izzie Stevens on the ABC television medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, a role which brought her significant recognition and accolades, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2007. Her best known film appearances include roles in Knocked Up (2007), 27 Dresses (2008), The Ugly Truth (2009), Killers (2010), Life As We Know It (2010), New Year’s Eve (2011), The Big Wedding (2013), and Unforgettable (2017). Heigl has also starred in several films that have seen limited releases, including Jackie & Ryan (2014), Home Sweet Hell (2015), and Jenny’s Wedding (2015). She also portrayed the lead role on the short-lived NBC television series State of Affairs from 2014 to 2015, and has lent her voice to the animated film The Nut Job (2014) and its 2017 sequel.
Additionally, Heigl has established herself as a cover model, appearing in numerous publications including Maxim, Vanity Fair and Cosmopolitan. She is married to singer Josh Kelley, with whom she has one son and two daughters.
2011–present: recent roles
In 2011, Heigl appeared in the ensemble romantic comedy New Year’s Eve, directed by Garry Marshall. Despite being a commercial success, grossing over $142 million worldwide,[ the film received generally negative reviews. Heigl next had the lead role in One for the Money (2012). Based on a series of novels by Janet Evanovich, the film’s lead character is Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter working for a bonding company. The film was a financial failure, grossing just over $36 million worldwide against its production budget of $40 million. For her performance, Heigl received a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress.
In January 2012, Heigl stated in an interview that she had asked the producers of Grey’s Anatomy if she could return to the show to wrap up Izzie’s storyline. “I’ve told them I want to [return],” she said. “I really, really, really want to see where [Izzie] is. I just want to know what happened to her and where she went and what she’s doing now. My idea is that she actually, like, figures it out, and finds some success and does really well in a different hospital. She was always floundering, you know, and so she was always one step behind the eight ball and I want to see that girl take some power back.” She said she regretted leaving the show. “Oh yeah, sometimes, yeah. You miss it. I miss my friends. It was a great work environment … and it becomes a family. I spent six years together with these people every day … you grow up together, in a way … I always felt that if they wanted me to come back and sort of wrap up that storyline … I want them to know that I’m down with it if they want me to, but I completely understand if it doesn’t necessarily work … They’ve got a lot of storylines going on there.”
In 2013, she appeared alongside Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon in The Big Wedding, a comedy about an estranged family reuniting for a ceremony. A very poor critical and commercial reception greeted the film upon its release—it holds a 7% rating on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and only made US$7.5 million in its opening weekend—and for her role, Heigl was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress at the 34th Golden Raspberry Awards. In June 2013, she began appearing in a television commercial for Vicks’ ZzzQuil.
In November 2012, Heigl was cast as the voice of a squirrel, Andie, in the animated film The Nut Job, which was released on January 17, 2014. Heigl starred in the romantic drama Jackie & Ryan (2014), opposite Ben Barnes, portraying a recent single mom battling to hold onto her daughter and the love interest of a modern-day train hopper. The film was released in a limited release and through video on demand by Entertainment One in the United States.
She next starred as a rejected and jealous housewife in the dark comedy Home Sweet Hell (2015), alongside Patrick Wilson and Jordana Brewster. Released for VOD and a limited theatrical run in North America, the film received largely negative reviews. Variety wrote in its verdict: “Considering how often [Heigl] has been slammed for not being just another docile, eager-to-please female celebrity, it’s hard not to suspect that she might have relished the chance to play an unapologetically ball-busting shrew—a grotesquely exaggerated version of a stereotype she’s been assigned many times over. Indeed, Heigl’s performance as a coolly murderous model housewife is the only real reason to even consider watching Home Sweet Hell, an otherwise flailing and risible tale of adultery, extortion and suburban malaise that suggests a poor woman’s Gone Girl”. She received a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress. Heigl starred as the titular role in the independent film Jenny’s Wedding, about a woman who finally decides to get married, but her choice of partner tears her conventional family apart. An Indiegogo campaign was later launched to help raise money for post-production costs, and like Heigl’s previous few projects, the film was distributed for a VOD and limited release in certain parts of the United States only.
Heigl returned to television in the NBC drama series State of Affairs, about a CIA attache. The show premiered in 2015, to largely negative reviews; Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus was: “State of Affairs benefits from Alfre Woodard’s talent, but this overly serious show is dragged down by Katherine Heigl’s unsympathetic character and a surfeit of unintentional laughs”. It cancelled after one season due to a lackluster viewership. In 2017, Heigl replaced KaDee Strickland in the lead role of Sadie Ellis, in the CBS legal drama Doubt. However, as with State of Affairs, the show premiered to what was described as “tepid” ratings by The Hollywood Reporter, and CBS announced its cancellation after just two episodes.
She starred opposite Rosario Dawson and Geoff Stults in the erotic thriller Unforgettable (2017), portraying a divorcée who begins to torment the new fiancée of her ex-husband. The film was her first wide release in three years; it garnered mediocre reviews and grossed a paltry US$4.7 million in its opening weekend. Nevertheless, The Globe and Mail remarked that “Heigl works overtime to humanize the resentful mom—her face is like an old-fashioned cash register with the prices popping up—but she’s more fun to watch as the story grows ugly and violent, and she unleashes the demon within”. She reprised the voice-over role of Andie in the animated sequel The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which was released theatrically on August 11, 2017.
In 2018, Heigl joined the cast of the USA Network legal drama series Suits where she would play the role of Samantha Wheeler, a new partner at the fictional law firm of Zane Specter Litt.