Katherine Marie Heigl, born November
24, 1978) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Dr.
Izzie Stevens on Grey's Anatomy and her starring role in the movies
Knocked Up, 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth.
Heigl started her career as a child model with Wilhelmina Models before
she turned her attention to acting. She made her debut in the
coming-of-age film, That Night. Heigl appeared in the television series
Roswell and movies including My Father the Hero before landing her break
out role in Grey's Anatomy. Over the years, Heigl has established herself
as a sex symbol and cover model appearing on numerous publications
including Maxim, Vanity Fair and Cosmopolitan.
Heigl married Josh Kelley in Park City, Utah on December 23, 2007.
Heigl was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Nancy, a personnel
manager, and Paul Heigl, a financial executive/accountant. Heigl has
German and Irish ancestry, and was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints. She is the youngest of four children (in addition to
siblings Meg, Jason, and Holt). Heigl lived in Virginia and then Denver
before her family settled in Connecticut, where they moved into a large,
old Victorian-style farmhouse in the wealthy town of New Canaan, where she
spent most of her childhood.
In 1986, her older brother Jason died of injuries suffered in a car
accident, after being thrown from the back of a pickup truck while out for
lunch with some of his high school classmates. Following his death, the
family decided to donate his organs. Afterward, their parents converted to
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (prior to that her mother
was Lutheran and her father Catholic). Heigl is now a strong proponent of
organ donation. Although she is no longer a "strong practicing Mormon",
she stated that she hopes to "...find my way back as I get older and a
little less selfish."
When Heigl was nine, an aunt visiting the family decided to take a number
of photographs of her. After returning to her home in New York, her aunt
sent the photos to a number of modeling agencies, with the permission of
Heigl's parents. Within a few weeks, Heigl was signed with Wilhelmina
Models as a child model. Soon after signing with the agency, a client
slated Heigl for use in a magazine advertisement where she made her debut.
At the time, she was earning $75 an hour posing for Sears and Lord &
Taylor catalogs. Heigl appeared in her first national television spot for
She made her acting debut in the 1992 movie That Night. Heigl appeared as
Christina Sebastian in Steven Soderbergh's Depression-era drama King of
the Hill before being cast in her first leading role in the 1994 comedy My
Father the Hero. During this time, Heigl continued to attend New Canaan
High School, balancing her film and modeling work with her academic
studies. Heigl dropped out of New Canaan High School after her sophomore
year to pursue her career in Hollywood.
In 1995, she starred in the Steven Seagal action thriller Under Siege 2:
Dark Territory. Heigl portrayed a 16-year-old travelling on a train across
a mountain pass (out of communications range) to visit the grave of her
deceased father with uncle Casey Ryback (Seagal), an ex-SEAL
counter-terrorist expert. The main plotline has the train hijacked by
mercenaries in Colorado, keeping her as a hostage. Much of her work in the
film was opposite Morris Chestnut, Sandra Taylor and Everett McGill.
Despite an increased focus on acting, she still modeled extensively,
appearing regularly in magazines such as Seventeen. She took the lead role
in Disney's made-for-television film Wish Upon a Star in 1996. Also in
1996, Heigl's parents divorced and her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
After her high school graduation in 1997, she moved with her mother into a
four-bedroom house in Malibu Canyon, Los Angeles, and her mother became
In 1998, she co-starred with Peter Fonda in a re-working of the classic
Shakespearian play The Tempest, set during the American Civil War. Later
that year, she starred in the horror film Bride of Chucky.
In 1999, Heigl turned her attention to television when she accepted the
role of Isabel Evans on the science fiction TV drama Roswell, a role that
was expanded in the show's second and third seasons. Heigl had auditioned
for all three of the show's female leads (the other two roles eventually
went to Shiri Appleby and Majandra Delfino) before she was finally cast as
human-alien hybrid Isabel.
Heigl was frequently featured in photo essays in magazines such as Life,
TV Guide, and Teen as well as FHM. She appeared in the FHM and Maxim
calendars, FHM's annual "100 Sexiest Women in the World", and was featured
in the Girls of Maxim Gallery. In May 2006, Maxim awarded her #12 on their
annual Hot 100List as well as voted the 19th "Sexiest Woman in the World"
by readers of FHM magazine. While Roswell was in production, Heigl worked
on several films, including 100 Girls, an independent 2001 film, and
Valentine, a horror film starring David Boreanaz and Denise Richards.
Heigl accepted a role in Ground Zero, a television thriller scheduled to
be telecast that fall which was based on the bestselling James Mills novel
The Seventh Power, in the spring of 2001. She co-starred as a brilliant
and politically-concerned college student who helps to build a nuclear
device to illustrate the need for a change in national priorities. The
device ends up in the hands of a terrorist following betrayal by a fellow
student. However, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the film
was shelved when its plot was considered inappropriate. It reemerged in
2003 under the title Critical Assembly. After the attacks, Heigl recorded
a public service announcement for the American Red Cross in an effort to
help raise money for victims.
In 2003, Heigl appeared in three television movies. She returned to the
horror genre with Evil Never Dies, a modern-day variation on the
Frankenstein story co-starring Thomas Gibson. Love Comes Softly, for
Hallmark Entertainment, found Heigl starring as Marty Claridge, a young,
pregnant newlywed traveling west. (She reprised the role of Marty in the
sequel Love's Enduring Promise the next year.) Heigl played Isabella
Linton in MTV's modern revamp of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. In
October 2003, Heigl was cast opposite Johnny Knoxville in The Ringer, a
Farrelly brothers comedy that was released in December 2005. Heigl starred
as Romy in the 2005 television movie Romy and Michele: In the Beginning, a
prequel to the 1997 film Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.
In 2005, Heigl was cast in what would become her most high-profile role to
date, as medical intern Dr. Isobel "Izzie" Stevens on Grey's Anatomy, an
ABC medical drama. The show, originally introduced as a mid-season
replacement, became a huge ratings success and is still one of the
highest-rated television series on broadcast television. The same year,
Heigl landed the starring role in the independent film, Side Effects,
about marketing and the pharmaceutical industry. In late 2006, Heigl was
nominated for a Golden Globe award in the category Best Supporting Actress
in a Series, Mini-series, or Motion Picture Made for Television for her
work on Grey's Anatomy. Also in 2006, she filmed Knocked Up, a comedy from
writer/director Judd Apatow, starring opposite Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and
Apatow's real life wife, Leslie Mann. Upon its June 2007 theatrical
release, the film received largely positive reviews from critics, and
proved to be a box office success. Despite her run of success, she also
starred in the box office bomb Zyzzyx Road which despite being filmed in
2004, was not released until 2006. It has been cited as the lowest
grossing film of all time. She has been on FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the
World" list twice as of 2007.
On September 16, 2007, Heigl won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting
Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Izzie Stevens. In her acceptance
speech she acknowledged that even her mother did not believe she would
win, and when her name was called, she had to be censored vocally by the
telecast's producers, due to her saying "Shit!" when she reacted to the
win. Earlier, she had corrected telecast announcer Rebecca Riedy, who had
been given an incorrect phonetic spelling of Heigl's name, when she
mispronounced her name as Hi-jell before the presentation of the award
with Kyle Chandler for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or
Movie. She starred in the film, 27 Dresses which was released in January
2008, playing alongside James Marsden.
Katherine Heigl was announced the Most Desirable Woman of 2008, according
There was some speculation that Heigl may be leaving Grey's Anatomy after
the end of the 2008-2009 season. This speculation revolved around her
refusal to put her name in for Emmy Award consideration and the time she
had devoted to producing a film version of Carolyn Jessop's book Escape.
Grey's showrunner Shonda Rhimes said she was not insulted by Heigl's Emmy
withdrawal, but also noted that Heigl's character Izzy had less to do
during the season because Heigl asked for a light work schedule. However,
despite Heigl's reported displeasure with the previous season as well as
suggestions that her character had died, Heigl's return for the sixth
season of Grey's has been confirmed by ABC.
In 2009, Heigl starred opposite Gerard Butler in The Ugly Truth, which
opened July 24.
Heigl is currently filming the Lionsgate thriller Five Killers, opposite
Ashton Kutcher. She has signed on to star in and produce the big-screen
drama Life As We Know It. Life As We Know It revolves around a woman and a
man whose respective best friends die in a car accident. Following the
tragedy, they are left to share in caring for the deceased's orphaned
daughter. Everwood creator Greg Berlanti will direct the film.
Despite Heigl's constant reassurances that she is "quite boring...
really", Movie Entertainment called Heigl a complex individual with many
contrasts, referring to her as an "ex-model with a strong feminist streak"
and an "actress known for her dramatic roles who really wants to do
In the wake of widespread media attention to accusations of sexism
(including articles in New York, The New Yorker, Slate, The Los Angeles
Times, USA Today, The Guardian, Vanity Fair and People) against director
and producer Judd Apatow and his film Knocked Up, Heigl has been tagged as
a potentially important and assertive modern proponent of women's rights.
In a highly-publicized Vanity Fair interview, as one of the lead actors in
the hit film Knocked Up, Heigl admitted that though she enjoyed working
with Apatow and Rogen, she had a hard time enjoying the film itself. She
called the movie "a little sexist", claiming that the film "paints the
women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as
lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys". Following Heigl's controversial
comments, an online survey of 927 individuals was performed by lifestyle
publication Buzzsugar (a media product of Sugar Publishing) in which the
majority (59%) of movie-goers agreed that Knocked Up was sexist or could
be viewed as sexist (although 38% were not personally offended) while 37%
of viewers saw the film as devoid of sexist aspects. In his review for The
Guardian, humorist Joe Queenan called Knocked Up "the latest in a new
genre of romantic comedies in which an unappealing hero gets together with
a gorgeous, successful woman".
Heigl's comments spurred widespread reaction in the media, primarily
consisting of personal attacks in which she was called "an ungrateful
traitor", "hypocrite", and "assertive, impatient go-getter who quickly
tired of waiting for her boyfriend to propose", in some cases debasing her
religious beliefs and criticizing her private relationships. Heigl
clarified her remarks to People magazine, stating that, "My motive was to
encourage other women like myself to not take that element of the movie
too seriously and to remember that it's a broad comedy", adding that,
"Although I stand behind my opinion, I'm disheartened that it has become
the focus of my experience with the movie".
The Guardian noted that Heigl's comments "provoked quite a backlash, and
Heigl was described as ungrateful and a traitor. Some people even
suggested she would never work again", remarks which in retrospect were
not only proved demonstrably wrong but the publicity and promotion in the
wake of her comments may well have propelled Heigl's career.
Following the release of 27 Dresses, the New York Post expressed some
disappointment with the mismatch of Heigl's talent with the "chick-flick"
triviality of the film, suggesting that Heigl might be more compatible
"with female directors such as Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry) or Tamara
Jenkins (The Savages)...". On the other hand, her newest project, The Ugly
Truth, has been touted as "a battle of the sexes" chick flick.
Heigl dated Joey Lawrence in 1994 and Roswell costar Jason Behr during the
run of the series. In June 2006, she became engaged to singer Josh Kelley,
whom she met on the set of his music video for "Only You". They were
married on December 23, 2007 in Park City, Utah. During a taping of Live
With Regis and Kelly, Heigl stating that she and Kelley chose not to live
together before they were married, saying, "I think I just wanted to save
something for the actual marriage... I wanted there to be something to
make the actual marriage different than the dating or the courtship." For
their honeymoon, they went to the Esperanza resort in Cabo San Lucas. In
December 2007, Heigl and Kelley moved into a new home in Los Feliz area of
At the end of 2007, Barbara Walters named Heigl one of "The 11 Most
Fascinating People of 2007" on an ABC program of that title. Heigl
questioned her inclusion on the list, saying that in fact she is actually
"quite boring...not, just kidding, but really".
On September 9, 2009, Heigl's representative confirmed that the couple had
started the process of adopting a baby girl from (South) Korea. Later that
month, the couple adopted a special needs baby girl they named Nancy Leigh
(named after Heigl's mother and sister), nicknamed Naleigh.