27 Dresses - Katherine Heigl interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
KATHERINE Heigl talks about playing the eternal bridesmaid in 27 Dresses and some of her own wedding experiences [she got married last year to singer Josh Kelley].
She also talks about the differences between Knocked Up and 27 Dresses, the overwhelming success she has enjoyed in her career and why she takes being a role model seriously.
Q. What made you say “I do” to 27 Dresses?
Katherine Heigl: I’m a huge romantic comedy fan and have been in this business for 17 years and I think for all 17 I’d hoped and dreamed and wished to some day be in a romantic comedy myself. This was the first one that I read that I really laughed out loud to along in my living room. I just really loved the characters. I thought they were very honestly flawed and yet so very endearing and welcoming. There was just something about them that I felt people – and myself included – could identify with. They weren’t so shiny and perfect all the time.
Q. You appear in virtually every scene, so how was that?
Katherine Heigl: It was exhausting. And when I say that I’d been wanting to star in a romantic comedy my whole career, I didn’t quite realise what that entailed, how much work and how many hours that meant. I’m used to having more of an ensemble cast, so it was overwhelming and I had to learn to manage my downtime as best I could to keep my energy up. At the end of a really long day, in order to keep the performance fresh and honest and real, it could get very difficult and I didn’t realise that when I began. I didn’t have a day off to recuperate; I just had to keep it going. I drank a lot of coffee.
Q. Which was the worst dress you had to wear and do you have a closet full of dresses at home?
Katherine Heigl: I’ve actually gotten really good at cleaning out my own closet. The only two dresses that I have saved for a really long dress are my prom dress, from 1995… I’ll never wear it again but I really loved it. And a dress my mum made me when I was 14 for a Christmas party. Other than that, I get rid of anything I know that I’m never going to wear. But I think the one I really hated putting on [in the movie] wasn’t actually a dress, but a bathing suit for the underwater wedding – because it was a bathing suit, and then a tutu, and then a flowered bathing cap. It was really unappealing.
Q. How long did the scene where you parade all the dresses take to shoot?
Katherine Heigl: I think it was a good day and a half and it was kind of torturous. I was already dreading it because it looked like a really hard scene on paper to imagine. I was already nervous about it. And then by about dress four, 12 hours into the first day, I was like: “Why can’t this movie have just been called Four Unusual Dresses?” [laughs] Can’t we just stop the madness? But I was really happy when I saw it because I thought Anne made it work so well inter-cutting the scenes from the weddings and the sort of playful fun that James [Marsden] and my character had. It ended up working but it was totally in the after shoot.
Q. Do you have much bridesmaid experience, or any plans to do it in the future?
Katherine Heigl: I was actually my sisters’ maid of honour last October for her wedding and it’s a wonderful honour. I was so excited and pleased that she asked me but it’s a tremendous amount of stress and pressure on that particular day – even leading up to it, to just make sure that everything goes smoothly. My sister is a real tomboy, so to get her to go and pick a wedding dress and go to fittings… she hated the hair and make-up tests. Her embarrassment was just profound. But I was like: “You’ve got to do it, you’ve got to do it because this is your day and you want to look beautiful.” So, trying to get her to do what she needed to do and to make everything run smoothly and be prepared for any problems that might arise was very stressful. I’d rather not do it again.
Q. What was the status of this film while you were doing that?
Katherine Heigl: Well, I had been planning my wedding for nine months [to Josh Kelley] and then they decided to release the film a week or two after I got married. I’d had enough of weddings and the whole thing by that point, but it worked out really nice and helped with the promotion of the movie because I had some personal experience as well [laughs].
Q. Having been a bridesmaid 27 times in the movie were you mindful about what you were going to ask your own bridesmaids to wear? And why red?
Katherine Heigl: I chose red… I was originally going to go with gold. My theme, my colours were sort of ivory and gold. It was a Christmas wedding but I thought it was kind of cruel to ask them to pull of a cold cocktail dress so we went with the kind of cranberry red because it kind of fit into the Christmas vibe. But I didn’t want them to hate their dresses. I’ve never understood that theory that a bride would not want her bridesmaids to look as good as her on her wedding day. It seems kind of silly and petty. At the end of the day, I want them to enjoy the experience too and to be excited to get dressed up as well.
Q. How many did you have?
Katherine Heigl: We had four, including my sister, who I made be maid of honour. And then three really close friends I’ve had since I was 14.
Q. When did you find out that your husband was the right man for you?
Katherine Heigl: I guess I knew pretty early on. I had a conversation with a girlfriend of mine who said: “When did you start talking marriage?” I said: “About nine months in and I brought it up.” But I didn’t bring it up at all thinking he wasn’t on the same page, like some kind of masochist. But I think I knew really early on how much I really adored this person and when I imagined my life without him, I really couldn’t. I didn’t want to have to live my life without him. It felt very real and very right pretty early on. You go through those first couple of months where everyone is walking that tightrope of, “is this serious or just flirty?” But I knew that I wanted to go in that direction in my life and I knew that marriage and family was important to me, so I didn’t really want to just date. I wanted to move forward… and then I asked him.
Q. To marry you?
Katherine Heigl: Not to marry me, I just brought it up.
Q. What do you think of the emphasis that’s put on weddings and did you turn into a Bridezilla?
Katherine Heigl: I tried really hard not to be a bridezilla because it’s very hard to understand. Since I’ve been on this European press tour I’ve been asked a lot of questions like: “What is it about America that puts so much emphasis on weddings?” I kind of felt the way they did. I don’t know. I don’t know why everybody makes it such a big deal and I refused to give into that. I kind of agree with Kevin [James Marsden’s character] a little bit. It is a bit of a racket. As soon as you say “wedding” the cake goes from a couple of hundred bucks to a couple of thousand. It’s crazy and it frustrated me. It’s the only time I got edgy was with everyone trying to take this one day out of your life and turn it into the most expensive, crazy, affluent thing. I just wanted everyone to stay grounded and keep remembering that it’s over in eight hours – and that’s the best you’re going to get. So, I tried hard not to be a Bridezilla.
Q. Have you noticed any changes in your relationship since being married?
Katherine Heigl: There’s a sort of steadiness to it that wasn’t there before and a subtleness to it, which sounds really boring [laughs]. But I think in our particular lives and professions that’s a great thing. It’s a really safe and wonderful thing to have this person that you know is in it for the long haul, that has made this commitment. I feel like I can just be me all the time. I don’t have to worry about impressing him, I don’t have to worry about couching for who I really am, it’s just a very comfortable and wonderful relationship.
Q. You’ve starred in two very big comedies [Knocked Up and 27 Dresses] in the past 12 months that had very different tones. Did you approach them differently?
Katherine Heigl: I thought Knocked Up was a little more about the kind of humour born from experiences versus born from situations. And I think Alison in Knocked Up, her comedy came from a more uptight, serious place playing against Seth’s character, who was such an outrageous guy that any woman would want to throttle. Whereas Jane was a little more shticky, it was a little more physical comedy and a little more goofier. She was pretty uptight herself but it came from a different place. What I’d like to do next is find the perfect comedy that is the combination between that lovely, sort of fantasy/escapism world that women love, and a little edgier – but not raunchy – that Knocked Up was, so that women don’t have to drag their boyfriends to go see the movie. They actually want to go too.
Q. Who was the best kisser: James Marsden or Seth Rogen?
Katherine Heigl: They were both pretty excellent to be honest. I’m not supposed to talk about it because it makes Josh really unhappy. I keep telling him that it’s important, that we have to generate chemistry so that the audience can believe it. Seth was a very sexy kisser, as was James, but I think because Josh and I were engaged at the time we did 27 Dresses, James was a little more nervous because Josh would stick around and it made Jimmy feel a bit awkward. But I had a pretty good job.
Q. Did you ever pursue anyone as hard as your character does in the movie when you were younger?
Katherine Heigl: I never tried too hard. I had enough of an ego and enough self-worth that any guy that didn’t really show interest, I wouldn’t pursue. I just wasn’t going to put myself in that position. I felt like I’d move on to someone that was interested. Anytime you start to try too hard to get somebody’s attention it lessens your value.
Q. Is your own life anywhere near as ordered as Jane?
Katherine Heigl: No, that’s the one thing from Jane that I thought I was going to try to walk away from having a little more organisation and being a little more put together like Jane. I kept asking the set decorators if they had another filofax that I could have for me to keep things in order. I’m terrible about planning ahead. I got very organised around the time of my wedding with all of my nail appointments, hair appointments and wardrobe fittings, but then after the wedding I have know idea of where I’m going next.
Q. You have a lot of teenage fans, so do you feel any kind of pressure as a role model? Or to look a certain way given the celebrity focus that’s put upon you?
Katherine Heigl: Certainly to look a certain way: they just kill you if you go out in your pyjamas or something; they just crucify you. Again, I have enough of an ego that it would be embarrassing for me. So, if I’m going out shopping I know that I’m going to be photographed and try to kind of pull it together. But there were a few months when it was really, really hard for me to do. But thankfully one of my bridesmaids is also a great stylist and she’d come over with her sister and help me put together outfits and talk to me a lot about what looks good on my body so that I didn’t have to try so hard. But there are days when I’m just going to the drugs store to get some cough medicine that I’m going to be in a sweatshirt and pyjamas.
As far as being a role model, it’s a tough one because I don’t want to criticise other people, but personally I feel that I’ve put myself in a position of being looked at and looked up to and I do think, to some degree, that it’s my responsibility to take that seriously. I am flawed, I do have my problems and my vices that I’m trying to overcome – for example, my smoking. I always try to make it clear that it’s not something I think is cool or something, obviously, that I think other people should do. It’s a really stupid habit that I started at a really stupid age that I now have to fight to get out of my life. I have to fight this addiction.
Q. How have things changed for you in business terms since you’ve enjoyed such success? Do you find people dealing with you any differently?
Katherine Heigl: Everything’s changed. Everything. The level of success has changed, the level of attention has changed, certainly the level of respect and the level of opportunities. People’s reactions and responses have changed. Everything has changed. There’s nothing that’s even remotely the same except for my family and friends. My whole wardrobe has changed [laughs]!