The many faces of Katherine Heigl – how many do you recognise?
The many faces of Katherine Heigl – how many do you recognise?

LightboxJuly 18, 2018

What’s Katherine Heigl been up to, you guys?

The many faces of Katherine Heigl – how many do you recognise?
The many faces of Katherine Heigl – how many do you recognise?

Season eight of Suits starts dropping on Lightbox tomorrow – and Katherine Heigl is coming along with it. Sam Brooks details where the former TV princess has been up to since her heyday.

Katherine Heigl has had a strange career, you guys.

First up, she had Roswell. You know, that show about aliens starring the guy with the big lips and the girl who is now on UnReal (season four is bingeable on Lightbox now, fyi)? That one!

After that, she won an Emmy for screaming ‘DENNY!’ on Grey’s Anatomy, and called out the announcer on mispronouncing her name.

Then came Knocked Up, the hit film that is probably most famous now for being problematic – and yet the media gave Heigl a lot of crap when she called it problematic at the time. That looks pretty gross now, doesn’t it, media circa 2008?

And then… kind of nothing hugely prominent. But never fear, I’m here to tell you what she’s been up to, and whether you should watch it!

Killers

Katherine Heigl’s first big stab into movie semi-stardom was this bizarre romantic comedy where she falls in love with circa 2010 Ashton Kutcher, who, from the thumbnail in the above video, you can tell was quite a babe. Also, he plays an assassin.

What was up with all the rom-coms in the late-aughts/early teens involving bounty hunters or hitmen or assassins? What about being paid to kill people for money is romantic? We’ll never know.

Should I watch it: Probably not! Unless you have a strange crush on Ashton Kutcher that you’ve harboured since your preteen days watching him on That 70’s Show, and why would you have that? That would be weird, says this writer who is not trying to distance himself from it.

Life As We Know It

A surprisingly dark film where two people die and, for some incredibly manipulative reason, they give custody of their child to their two best friends who… hate each other. If you take out the jokes, this is basically a horror film.

But no, this is full on romantic comedy noise, with an honest-to-god rush to the airport scene, and proves itself a decent showcase for Heigl being able to sell her flinty kind of charisma.

Should I watch it: Yes? I watched it once on a hungover Sunday and I’ve made worse decisions.

New Year’s Eve

Look, I saw this not only once but twice in the theatre. 2011 was a hard time if you were a Lea Michele stan. The woman can sing, you guys! She’s not in enough things that shows this off, and in this she sings Auld Lang Syne!

No, this was one of those billion celebrity movies that were all the rage around the turn of the decade – begining with He’s Just Not That Into You, a surprisingly good and dark film, and following up with Valentine’s Day, this, and then Mother’s Day, which is more famous for Julia Roberts’ wig than anything else.

In this film, Heigl plays an ex-girlfriend of a character played by Jon Bon Jovi (?!?!) who, through a series of hijinx, ends up promoting his performance at the drop of the New Year’s Eve ball. It’s a performance that Heigl could do in her sleep and frankly I can barely remember her in it, because she’s one of a billion B-plus-listers on the bill.

Should I watch it: Yes! It’s better than you think it is. It’s not good, but there’s some touching moments, and you’ll probably cry.

One For The Money

A headline-baiting title if I’ve ever seen one.

This film is mostly famous for being based on a very good and pretty dark novel about a woman who becomes a bail enforcement agent (essentially a bounty hunter) – but at some point along the way it became a wacky comedy that also involved a huge amount of gunplay.

Or it might be mostly famous for being a film where Katherine Heigl played strongly against type. In that she played a brunette. It truly was her Charlize Theron in Monster moment, except with no Oscar, and she wasn’t playing a world-renowned and widely misunderstood serial killer. But close!

Should I watch it: Yes, solely for what it’s like to see Heigl attempt to balance the roles of rom-com star and action movie star. It’s a difficult one, and she… kind of pulls it off.

State of Affairs

Katherine Heigl at her most… State of Affairs-y? Sure.

Oh, 2014. It was just after the peak of the women-in-pantsuits era of television (See: Covert Affairs, Madame Secretary, How To Get Away With Murder, Scandal) and Heigl threw her hat in the ring as CIA analyst Charleston Tucker (ridiculous name). Tucker is assigned with giving the President, played here by the legendary Alfre Woodard, her daily briefings.

Does it sound very interesting? No, not really! Imagine if somebody made a show out of your work stand-ups, except it was a bit shorter!

Did it work? Kind of, for the one season it was around. The one thing Heigl does well is command a scene. She has that 50s Hollywood charisma where you who she’s playing and what she’s doing the moment she steps into the frame, and there’s a comfort in that. It didn’t really push Heigl (and definitely didn’t push Woodard, who could do this kind of role in a coma), and it’ll be forgotten after the end of this sentence, most likely.

Should I watch it? Probably not? It’s a lot of wheels turning for her, and the series builds up to a place it never got to. Because they stopped making it.

Doubt

Katherine Heigl, in a show you almost certainly haven’t heard of.

Doubt is a show that I would be willing to bet money never existed, but thanks to the internet stalwarts IMDB and Wikipedia, it is recorded in our history forevermore.

It got cancelled after two episodes, which is one of those kind of record-fast cancellings that usually ends up on a list on ‘fastest cancelled shows ever’. It’s a little bit hard to tell why – it’s a buzzy legal drama, the kind that you generally put on in the background while you cook dinner or fold your washing, and those tend to stay around for a while.

Should I watch it? You’re more likely to be able to find the Rosetta Stone than find episodes of this show. But who cares? Because this show not being around anymore frees Heigl up to do…

Suits

Katherine Heigl back on TV!

This is a genius move for everybody involved, well played everybody.

After the departure of Meghan Markle and Patrick J. Adams at the end of last season, the show needs a boost of someone new and something special to give it the reinvention that any show heading into its eighth season needs.

And Heigl needs a guaranteed hit to really flourish. She hasn’t really led a hit show since Grey’s Anatomy, and there she was a part of an ensemble, not carrying the whole thing. When I think of Heigl, I think of Heather Locklear and the roles she played in the mid-nineties right through to the early aughts: she was never just a guest star but a Special Guest Star™. When Locklear appeared on TV, it was a goddamned event.

For whatever reason, Heigl still has that same cache. Her being on Suits is a holy shit moment, not quite like a movie star deigning to appear on TV, but like a head girl returning to the high school for a victory lap. It might be a few years since she was head girl, but she’s still got all the things that made her head girl back in the day – a mixture of chilly charisa, crisp line readings and a Hathaway-esque severity. When you watch Heigl, you feel like you’re watching somebody lay pearls before swine, and you’re ever so thankful for it.

As Samantha Wheeler, a new partner at Zane Specter Litt, she’ll shake things up and bring a new dynamic to the show – she’s another head to butt against, and Heigl will flourish in this way. Maybe she’ll even scream ‘DENNY!’ a lot while wearing a pink prom dress. Who can say.

Should I watch it? Um, yes. And with Lightbox, you can get it right to your TV/laptop/screening device.

Season eight of Suits drops tomorrow on Lightbox, with episodes coming every Thursday.


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You can also check out Get It to Te Papa, a Lightbox Original, made by The Spinoff, that follows Hayden Donnell on an ambitious quest to collect underappreciated Kiwi cultural artefacts (The Waitangi Dildo, the DEKA sign, Suzanne Paul herself) and get them into New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa. Do yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service and all six episodes of this wonderful show.
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