Emmy-winning actress Katherine Heigl tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Leslie Bennetts that she thinks Knocked Up, the movie that catapulted her onto the A-list, is "a little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I'm playing such a bitch; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you're portraying women? Ninety-eight percent of the time it was an amazing experience, but it was hard for me to love the movie."
In her own life Heigl is an assertive, impatient go-getter who quickly tired of waiting for her boyfriend [singer-songwriter Josh Kelley] to propose and demanded to know what his intentions were. She even went and picked out the diamond for her ring. "I'm not really a first-move kind of gal," she says. "I'm one of those women who always thinks it's better to play it cool and keep them wanting more, but I really threw myself at him. I broke all the rules."
Heigl says she doesn't have any "grand illusions about marriage. I think it's a crapshoot. The odds are really bad, especially in this town. But I have a lot of faith in Josh, and I wanted to have that one day when I stand in front of my friends and my family and honor him and how important he is in my life. My career is really important to me, but there have to be other great, important things in your life besides work."
When Heigl's Grey's Anatomy character, Izzie Stevens, began an affair with her married best friend on the show this season, Heigl became concerned about her character's seemingly uncharacteristic actions. "That was kind of a big change for Izzie, wasn't it, after she was so up on her moral high ground. They really hurt somebody, and they didn't seem to be taking a lot of responsibility for it. I have a really hard time with that kind of thing. I'm maybe a little too black-and-white about it. I don't really know Izzie very well right now. She's changed a lot. I'm trying to figure her out and keep her real."
Heigl is well aware of the commercial considerations that often drive such decisions. "It was a ratings ploy," she tells Bennetts. "It was absolutely something that shocked people; it wasn't predictable, and people didn't see it coming. It's our fourth season; there's not a lot of spontaneity left. And business is business; I understand that, but I want there to be some cooperation between the business end and the creative end, so there's some way of keeping it real."
Heigl's star is certainly on the rise: her movie price has risen to $6 million from the $300,000 she got for Knocked Up, according to a source involved with the production.
Other highlights of the interview include:
ON THE MORMON INFLUENCE IN HER FAMILY'S LIFE AFTER HER BROTHER'S DEATH:
"A couple of Mormon families were a great comfort [after the death of her brother when Heigl was 7 years old]. Both my parents felt a great desire for answers, and they found an answer in the Mormon church--or answers they could live with, anyway, because there really are none. I didn't really understand death, so it was very confusing for me. The worst part was watching the devastation of my family. They weren't the same people anymore. Everything was kind of a mess for a while. It wasn't like Ordinary People, where it destroyed that family so badly that there was never finding any joy or loving or appreciating being alive again. But I give my parents unbelievable credit for pulling it together, and I give the Mormon church a lot of credit for helping them to do that."
ON HER OLD-FASHIONED VALUES:
"I ... didn't want to live together before we were married. I still have enough Mormon in me--not a lot, but enough--that I wanted to keep that a little bit sacred."
ON HER CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH HER MOTHER:
"I talk to my mother every day, and I've always felt the need to defend or excuse my relationship with my mother. The men in my life can feel, I should be more important in your life than your mother. A lot of men would have problems with that relationship, but Josh is unbelievably mature. He's really wise and really grounded. He was the first man in my life I could go to with a problem and feel confident that he would help me find a solution. For my mother, Josh is a relief, because at the end of the day, any good parent wants you to be happy, and Josh makes me happy. I laugh a lot more. I'm not as stressed out. My burden is lightened."
ON FINDING HAPPINESS:
"As women, we have more of a tendency to be people-pleasers, and I know a lot of women who are not vocal about what makes them happy. I was like that in my early 20s, but not anymore. I spent a lot of time not being clear about who I was and what was important to me. It's easy to be taken advantage of if you're not honest. I knew that dance of trying to please a man, trying to guess what they want you to be, and I got really tired of that, really confused and frustrated. I decided I was sick of trying to figure out what everybody else wanted, and I should just decide what I want, and be honest, and not spend all my time guessing. Josh is the first serious relationship I've ever had where I was like, This is me. From the moment I met him, I said, This is what I want and what I need."
The January issue of Vanity Fair hits newsstands in New York and Los Angeles December 5 and nationally December 11.