Katherine Heigl is notorious for her role as Izzy Stevens on Grey's Anatomy and her nonstop romantic comedy hits of the past few years. From Valentine's Day to The Ugly Truth, Heigl has made a name for herself as one of the queens of rom-com. With her latest film, One for the Money, the beautiful actress breaks the mold as a gun-weilding, butt-kicking bounty hunter. Heigl sat down recently with Izumi Hasegawa to chat about firing a real gun, becoming a brunette, and how tough guys will love her latest flick.
Izumi Hasegawa: What was the worst job you've ever had?
Katherine Heigl: I started modeling when I was nine, did some things for Sears. I modeled Cabbage Patch underwear. Good times. Kids at school really liked that.
IH: In this movie, you work with tough guys. What is the definition of a tough guy for you?
KH: I have no idea. Oh, that's right. Josh (Kelley) is here. I just insulted all three men in the room that I work with or live with.
IH: Can you talk about your entry point with the material, being a producer, and the role you had in bringing it to the screen?
KH: I was approached about the project when I was doing The Ugly Truth with Lakeshore, and they wanted to turn the book into a movie, and I had, at that point, not read the book, so I started reading them and I became obsessed with them, and then got really excited about the idea of bringing it to film. I really loved the producer role on this because it was so important to me to keep the film really close to the book, because that's what I fell in love with. That's what millions of people have fallen in love with, in terms of the One for the Money Stephanie Plum series. So it was great to get to be in the room and have an opinion...not that it was always necessarily listened to. But it was fun. And where we are. Yeah, we made it. We did it, guys. We did this.
IH: Girls love chick-flicks. This film kind of has a crossover appeal for guys as well. Usually guys just endure films that are chick-flicks. Can you speak to that? And what makes this a good non-chick-flick?
KH: I think what's sort of interesting about the books, is that they all have like a murder mystery tie-in with the bounty-hunting aspect of it. So it's not all just about romance. It's not all just about comedy. Especially, actually, in this movie, the murder mystery storyline is kind of dark and a little edgy, and gives it a vibe that is not purely chick-flick-ish. I'm really excited about it because I think it does appeal to everyone. It isn't just a girls' movie, and I think we're working hard to advertise it so everyone knows that. It's a good time for everyone, men included. And I forgot where I was going.
IH: Tough men.
KH: Oh yeah, tough men. Tough men will love this movie.
IH: I wasn't familiar with the books. I didn't feel that this was a chick-flick at all, but you just mentioned the advertising and I wanted to see how you felt about the campaign. I was just driving up Robertson Boulevard and there are a ton of billboards with you holding a pair of handcuffs.
KH: I know. It could be any type of movie, couldn't it? I actually just got back into town Saturday night, and yesterday was the first day I really left my house, so I hadn't seen any of the posters or anything yet. It's always really thrilling. There's always this moment of adrenaline when you see your face and butt and name on a big poster when you drive down whatever boulevard. So I'm really thrilled. I'm really excited and very hopeful, fingers crossed, it works.
IH: I was just curious what you think about the character of Stephanie Plum and why it has so resonated that we have 17 books with her?
KH: I just think there's something about her that's really endearing. You just really like her. She's a decent person with a big heart, and she's fearless and courageous but perpetually puts herself in situations where she's in over her head…but doesn't take herself very seriously. She doesn't take other people too seriously. She has this great perspective on life that happens to be really funny and witty and charming as well. I just like everything about Stephanie, and she's that hapless heroine that we don't get a lot of. Normally you get the overly perfect heroines that you can never aspire to be like, but Stephanie's a sort of everyday girl.
IH: Is that a nice way of saying possible sequel?
KH: I hope so. I mean, if you all go see this movie and promote it really well for us, and everybody else goes to see the movie, we could do this again. And again and again and again.
IH: What's your favorite scene? What's the one scene in this movie where you had the most fun?
KH: The best is when there's nothing I can do except laugh, where I can't try to stay in character or respond with something witty. I just start dying laughing. So then I ruin it because you can't use it.
IH: How did you like shooting the weapons scenes when you were learning with Ranger (Daniel Sunjata's character), and had you ever had any experience with that before? What was it like for you?
KH: I've been yielding guns in films since I was 15, but they're fake and there's no actual bullet in them. So they took us to a shooting range to practice because there are certain things that you're not supposed to do, like blink when you shoot. But it's impossible not to blink. It's really hard. It was really intimidating and nerve-wracking the first time they put a loaded gun in your hand. Plus, they'd just given you a 20-minute spiel about the dangers of this gun, so you're freaking out. I really enjoyed it because it was super satisfying and cathartic on some level. And then I turned around and Jason O'Mara was... What kind of gun was he shooting? It shot fire out of it or something. It was a little intense, but it was fun. I had a good time. I started wanting to go to the gun range regularly. And then I started shooting clay pigeons with Josh. I really like to shoot things. I know, it's funny.
IH: We don't see you brunette that often. Was that your choice? Or is the character in the book written as brunette?
KH: Yeah, she's brunette. Her look is very specific in the book, and once you get attached to that idea in your head, I couldn't imagine Stephanie any other way. It would have been really weird to play Stephanie blonde. It just wouldn't have worked. But the other side of that is that most people know me as a blonde, so it was disconcerting, I think, for certain fans to see me as a brunette. And then it was disconcerting for the fans of the book to imagine me as Stephanie 'cause I'm blonde and blah, blah, blah. So I dyed it brown before we started filming, trying to get people on board. And then I ended up just wearing a wig because I don't have curly hair and Stephanie does. Then I went back to blonde while I'm promoting the movie. I didn't really think it through, but hopefully people will buy it.
IH: Some cast and the director and creators and behind-the-camera people worked on Grey's Anatomy. Was that a Grey's Anatomy connection to make this movie?
KH: It's actually kind of random. We had met on Grey's and really enjoyed working together, so certainly it influenced us working together on this because we were like, "That was great fun. Let's do it again." And then Jason O'Mara and Daniel Sunjata were on the show after I left, but we didn't have any scenes together so I didn't even remember them. Yeah, I don't watch anybody else's work except my own. But it is really funny that the four of us have all had some connection to Grey's. It's so random.
IH: You had some fun scenes with Debbie Reynolds. Could you resist the temptation to ask her about Singin’ in the Rain?
KH: No, she totally will tell you. You don't have to ask. But it was really funny because I was complaining one day about the hours, as I normally do, and Gary (Lucchesi), our producer, said, “Oh, you ought to hear Debbie's story about her hours on Singin' in the Rain.” So then I asked her, and it was so horrifying what that woman went through to make that movie. She was so young at the time. It was her first big break, and she's working with an icon. And they were dancing and singing, and I think she said they were working something like 20 hours a day and she would just get a few hours of sleep on the sofa in her dressing room and then go back to work a few hours later. It was just so much that I couldn't really even believe it. I thought she was exaggerating, and it was sort of one of those “When I was your age I walked to school in bare feet and 10 feet of snow.” I thought, “This can't be true.” And then she told me how she had to dance with bleeding feet at one point. Gene Kelly, he wanted to stop it. Like, “I guess we should stop. Debbie's feet are bleeding all over the scene.” And she was like, “No, no. I'm fine. I'll wrap them up. I'm fine. I can keep going.” So then I stopped complaining about my hours.
IH: Did you get any sort of key insight by talking to Janet (Evanovich) at all? And also fans, as you said, become very attached to their ideas. Did you have any conversations with fans that informed what you wanted to do?
KH: Sherri (Shepherd) is a big fan, so I was like, “What do you think? Am I close enough to this?” And then as far as Janet goes, I didn't speak to her until after the movie was made and after she saw it. I really wish I had gotten to talk to her on the phone beforehand, because I think she would have relieved a lot of pressure. She was so supportive and so cool about it, and just took the angle of, “Look, you're always going to have a few people that don't think you're the right fit for the role. But I think you are, and I think it's great. So just be you and do your Stephanie, and people will embrace it.” That was such a relief to hear from the creator of the novels because I was trying so hard to fit myself into... It's hard to know what anyone else is thinking of the character. You only have your imagination to go off of. But I was trying to read people's minds and fit myself into it somehow. And ultimately, I just have to do my thing. That's the best I can do.
IH: If this does become a franchise, is there one of the books or a part of her life that you're looking forward to getting a chance to play onscreen?
KH: Oh, totally. They just keep getting better and better and more and more fun. I love when Lula and Stephanie team up and are detectives together. And it's very Cagney & Lacey, and it's super weird. And then the relationships keep bouncing, which is going to be so much fun.
IH: Does it make a difference to you when women are more directly involved in the production?
KH: Yeah, I think it does. I completely forgot, actually, that this was such a female-driven project. I didn't think of it like that for the same reason that Julie Anne [Robinson] was saying -- it was really just the best people for the job. It wasn't necessarily a gender issue, but it does make a difference because women communicate differently than men do. And when you've got a room full of people making the decisions about a project, communicating sort of the same way that you do, it does make it a little bit easier. Because it's not necessarily like I have to have everybody communicate the way I communicate to get the job done. It just does make it a little bit easier because you feel like you're being understood in a different way.
IH: Are you doing anything special in the gym?
KH: I just turned thirty-three last year, so I'm like, "I gotta make more of an effort." Every year I get older, it's more of an effort. Even just to keep my back from going out, I have to do more weight training, more cardio.
IH: Do you hate it or do you love it?
KH: I hate it. But when I'm in Utah, I actually love it because I can be outside and be active, whereas in LA, if I'm going to go for a job and get photographed, it's super embarrassing to me. So then it's treadmills in a basement somewhere, and I hate that.
IH: How is your daughter doing?
KH: She's great. She's upstairs in the room. She's just too cute for words.
IH: What's the latest mommy magic moment that you've had?
KH: Naleigh seems to like me better when I'm prettier, so when my hair is done and my makeup is on. And she was so cuddly with me today, and I was like, "That's funny. Usually she's so squirmy and wants to run around." It was because I look pretty right now. Somebody else made me look pretty.
IH: Would you consider adopting again?
KH: Oh yeah. I hope we do. I'm trying to, yes.
IH: Are you reading any books?
KH: I'm not reading anything at the moment. What was the last book I read? I think it was a Jodi...
KH: Yes. Thank you. I can never say her last name.
IH: Anything green/eco-friendly at home?
KH: Our house in Utah is solar-powered and radiant floors and reclaimed wood. I did the whole thing. It's a little pricier, though. I'm just telling anybody else out there who doesn't realize that when they start.
Lionsgate's 'One for the Money' is released in theaters on January 27, 2012.