After saving lives on Grey’s Anatomy and winning hearts in rom-coms like 27 Dresses, Katherine Heigl tells HELLO! that landing her latest role in the thriller Unforgettable (in theatres now) was a “true gift.” The actress is unlike you’ve ever seen her as Tessa, who struggles to come to terms with the fact that her ex-husband has a new fiancée, Julia (played by Rosario Dawson).
When the star calls us from Los Angeles, we can’t resist asking if her husband, musician Josh Kelley, 37, has seen the movie. “No, not yet,” she says with a laugh. “It’s going to terrify him.”
When she isn’t in Hollywood pursuing new projects, Katherine, 38, calls her family ranch in Utah home. She and Josh, who welcomed baby Joshua in December, also have two adopted daughters – Naleigh, 8, and Adalaide, 5.
While her new film isn’t exactly family-friendly, Katherine tells us her maternal instincts helped her at least understand what drove some of Tessa’s jealous actions. In our exclusive interview with the star, she also pulls back the curtain on her life with her new baby boy, her hopes for her young daughters and the mantra she thinks all moms should follow.
Why was this the right time in your life to take on such a juicy role?
I don’t think I would have understood it as much if I didn’t have children. I’m trying to imagine if Josh and I got divorced, he met someone new and she was 180 degrees different from who I am. How would I feel? Hopefully, I would never behave as Tessa did. [ Laughs] But I could have sympathy for her.
When the cameras weren’t rolling, was there anything that you and your co-star Rosario bonded over?
Rosario has an adopted daughter as well. We talked a lot about that and a lot about our kids. It’s such an equalizer, I think, talking about our lives as moms. It’s such a blessing because I feel like the most important part of this human experience is not making each other feel alone. We’re all experiencing similar things independently. Rosario is wonderful. She’s someone you can totally trust to get it.
Did your family visit you on set?
The girls came the day we were filming at the equestrian centre. You know what they love? They love the craft services table because there’s just a plethora of candy. They look at me like, “Can we have this?” and it’s the only way I can bribe them into staying quiet while we’re rolling. So I’ll say, “Take as much as you want.”
‘I want my daughters to have unwavering faith in themselves’
What’s something you want to make sure your daughters know as they grow up?
So much. I think the most important thing I want my daughters to know is I want them to be unstoppable in whatever it is they’re passionate about. I want them to have an unwavering faith in themselves.
In the movie, Rosario’s character, Julia, thinks Tessa is perfect. Have you ever struggled with trying to do it all and be the perfect everything?
I’m still struggling with that. My mantra for the month and probably for the year is: “You don’t have to do it all.” And it’s so funny that I have to remind myself of that. It seems obvious, doesn’t it? For me and many of my friends, you fall into a trap of feeling like, I can do it, so I should. It’s a battle to remind myself not to try to be perfect, not to try to do it all, not to try to do it all perfectly.
You have a very polished wardrobe in this movie. In your own life, do you have a day-to-day outfit?
Yes, but it’s not very glamorous. I’m actually desperate to switch it up because I still like to feel cute, you know. Even when I’m home, covered in spit up and I’m trying to deal with our dogs and the kids. It’s my go-to pair of leggings and a sweater. Poor Tessa’s in an outfit everyday where she has to hold those shoulders back and suck her tummy in. I’m the exact opposite.
You and your family are based in Utah. Why did you relocate there?
Utah is the perfect respite for me. I am a total homebody. I feel most comfortable when I’m at home with my family. Utah gives me that solitude and it’s beautiful, it’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s just a quieter life for me and my family. My kids go to a public school there. It’s a community of people who are kind, gracious and don’t care at all about Hollywood.
‘My mantra for the year is: “You don’t have to do it all”’
It sounds like the perfect place for you!
For so many reasons. I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older that I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert. After a press day like today, I will go back to my hotel room and decompress, because it can be exhausting to be on all the time. Extroverts are people who get energized by that. After a long day, I’ll be exhausted by it.
You’re now sharing more about your life outside of Hollywood on your blog. What’s the most fulfilling part about communicating with your fans online?
It’s sharing a different part of myself with fans who have been on my side for years. When I’m writing, I can totally control what goes out, so I still show the truest version of myself possible.
Since your blog is called Heavenly Days, what’s the most heavenly part of your days lately?
I have two. In the morning when I get up, I’ll go and get the baby. He stretches, looks at me and smiles this insanely big smile. Then I take him into the bedroom to nurse and the girls come in and we all pile on the bed. There’s just joyful noise all around me in the morning. That’s my favourite part of the day. My second favourite part of the day is when I put him down for the night, and the girls, Josh and I pile into the media room and watch Roswell, which is a TV show I did in the early 2000s [she played an alien with special powers]. It’s so fun and hilarious to watch with my family.
Do they realize that you’re in it?
They get it. Adalaide looks at me and says, “Can you do that? Do you have those powers?” I tell her that I do and that she better watch out. [ Laughs]