Katherine Heigl

Also Credited As:

Katherine Marie Heigl

Biography

With a beauty harkening back to old Hollywood, Katherine Heigl - a onetime Sears catalog child model who later paid her dues as a decidedly less-than-glamorous slasher film victim - finally earned widespread acclaim for her role as Dr. Izzie Stevens on the award-winning medical drama, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ). She took Hollywood by surprise with her starring role in Judd Apatow's critically-hailed and hugely successful "Knocked Up" …
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Job Title

Actor, Producer

Born

Katherine Marie Heigl on November 24, 1978 in Washington, Washington D.C., USA

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About

With a beauty harkening back to old Hollywood, Katherine Heigl - a onetime Sears catalog child model who later paid her dues as a decidedly less-than-glamorous slasher film victim - finally earned widespread acclaim for her role as Dr. Izzie Stevens on the award-winning medical drama, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ). She took Hollywood by surprise with her starring role in Judd Apatow's critically-hailed and hugely successful "Knocked Up" (2007), and proved her big screen star power was no fluke with the huge box office of "27 Dresses" (2008) and "The Ugly Truth" (2009). In addition to her onscreen work, Heigl also became infamous for a willingness to speak her mind at the expense of playing the game, earning her both respect and censure. This trait burned her "Grey's" bridges as she jumped full-time into film acting - and motherhood to an adopted special-needs baby - but Heigl proved that she was more interested in following her own instincts rather than pleasing critics.

Heigl was born on Nov. 24, 1978, the youngest of five children to Paul and Nancy Heigl. The Mormon family moved several times while Katherine was young, so she lived in Washington D.C., Colorado, and Virginia before the family settled in New Canaan, CT for the remainder of Heigl's childhood. When she was nine years old, an aunt visiting from New York City took a series of portraits of the all-American blonde with the big smile, submitting them to modeling agencies. Heigl was promptly signed by the prestigious Wilhelmina agency and began catalog modeling and eventually TV commercial acting. In 1991, she was cast in the coming-of-age feature film, "That Night," alongside Juliette Lewis and C. Thomas Howell, but the picture was not released until 1993. She followed up her acting debut with a pair of higher profile big screen roles in Steven Soderberg's Depression-era drama "King of the Hill" (1993) and the romantic comedy, "My Father the Hero," playing the rebellious teenage daughter of Gerard Depardieu (1994).

By now, Heigl's modeling career had ramped up to include regular appearances in Seventeen and other teen and beauty magazines, while she tried to maintain a regular life at New Canaan High School and build her acting resume in the meantime. She next expanded into action films with small roles in Steven Seagal's "Under Siege 2" (1995) and the made-for-TV gravy train with Disney's "Wish Upon a Star" (1996). Following the break-up of her parents and her graduation from high school, Heigl and her mother relocated to Malibu in 1997, at which time Nancy Heigl became her manager. The mother-daughter duo made an auspicious start on the West Coast, with the teenager landing a role in a European production of "Prince Valiant" (1997), a made-for- TV adaptation of "The Tempest," opposite Peter Fonda (1998), and a pair of bill-paying horror films - "Bride of Chucky" (1998) and "Bug Buster" (1998).

The following year, Heigl was thrust into the bright spotlight when she landed a starring role on "Roswell" (WB, 1999-2002), playing one of a group of high school students in Roswell, NM, who live secretive double lives as alien offspring. The slick, moody, sci-fi drama with the teen angst edge fared well at a time when programming grids were crowded with high school dramas. Over three seasons, Heigl's character Isabel gained a more and more prominent part of the show's ever-complicated storyline. During the run of the show, the over-18 actress also became a mainstay in magazines like FHM and Maxim, often appearing on "Sexiest" and "Most Beautiful" lists. When "Roswell" was cancelled in the spring of 2002, Heigl stayed busy with unremarkable TV movies, horror films, and an MTV remake of "Wuthering Heights" (2003). In the 2005 romp "Romy & Michele: The Beginning" - a prequel to the film "Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion" (1997) - Heigl reprised the role played by Mira Sorvino in the film.

In 2005, Heigl had established the chops and the personal background to perfectly fill the role of underwear model-turned-medical intern Isobel Stevens for a mid-season replacement medical drama called "Grey's Anatomy." It was her third role as an Isabel, and it did prove to be a charm, with the ensemble show developing into a critic's pick and audience favorite. Heigl even received her first Golden Globe nomination, following her heartbreaking storyline of falling in love with her patient, Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who dies of heart failure after asking Izzie to marry him. The public's respect for Heigl grew when, after a highly publicized cast argument, where costar Isaiah Washington used derogatory language against gay cast member T.R. Knight, Heigl appeared on camera in interviews to publicly express disgust with Washington and support Knight, who she said was her best friend.

The year "Grey's" premiered, Heigl had appeared in her first big screen comedy, the low-brow Farrelly Brothers flick, "The Ringer." The film was not a huge success, but Heigl's handling of the material obviously made an impression on writer-director Judd Apatow, who cast Heigl in the lead in his one-night-stand-whoops story "Knocked Up" (2007). The film was slated for a June 2007 release, with early reviews touting it as one of the year's best comedies. The film was also sure to instigate a whole new flurry of "Sexiest" and "Most Beautiful lists," however, sadly for her male fans, Katherine had become engaged to singer-songwriter Josh Kelley in June of 2006. Also in her off-screen life, Heigl was an outspoken supporter of organ donation, involved with the charities Donate Life America and the James Redford Institute of Transplant awareness. She was also, not surprisingly, a supporter of GLAAD (Gays and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). Meanwhile, Heigl won her first-ever Emmy award after getting the nod for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of Izzie Stevens.

Heigl earned her movie star stripes by toplining and opening her next feature, the sweet romantic comedy "27 Dresses" (2008) to solid box office and reviews. As she blossomed into a full-fledged film star, the cracks began to show on the set of "Grey's Anatomy" - Heigl controversially withdrew her name from Emmy contention the year after winning, saying that she had not been given enough quality material from the writers, and complained on various talk shows about the grueling work schedule the actors and crew members endured. She also drew fire for making the comment to Vanity Fair that she found the execution of "Knocked Up" to be "a little sexist [the film] paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys." While some found Heigl's candor refreshing, others grumbled that she was showing a lack of gratitude and professionalism. With the success of her battle-of-the-sexes romantic comedy "The Ugly Truth" (2009) with Gerard Butler, Heigl announced that she and husband Josh Kelley were adopting a special-needs baby from South Korea. The question of whether or not she would return to "Grey's" grew louder as the 2010 season of the show began with Heigl not returning to the set on her start date. She was let go from the series, and gave her reason as wanting to spend time bonding with her new baby.

With a reputation for being intelligent but difficult, outspoken and honest to a fault, Heigl gave an exclusive cover story interview to Entertainment Weekly where she was photographed in a penitent, hands-clasped pose with the headline "I'm Sorry." In the piece, Heigl apologized to "Grey's" fans who felt let down by her character's abrupt departure, and explained the motivation behind several of her more controversial decisions and quotes. As she later told The OC Register, "One of the most important things you can do as a human being is to grow and change, and admit when you're wrong. I was wrong, and I admitted it. Believe me, I'm going to make a million more mistakes in my life." Focused on her family and her career, Heigl explored another side of her winning big screen romantic comedy persona with the newlywed action picture, "Killers" (2010), co-starring Ashton Kutcher as a secret spy.