Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Five theories why Katherine Heigl is a leading lady

I'm only half-joking with this post. While my original intent was to have some fun with this topic, the truth is that the more I think about it, the more it bothers me, because something like this seems to defy conventional wisdom.

Katherine Heigl had been kicking around film and television ever since the 90s prior to her role in the hit TV series Grey's Anatomy. (Apparently she had a part in one of my favorite Steven Soderbergh movies, the underrated King of the Hill.) Then, in 2007, came the Judd Apatow film Knocked Up, a huge hit. Suddenly she's in great demand. Understandable. Hollywood tries to market her as a leading lady, but she can't quite pull it off. From 27 Dresses (41% on the Rotten Tomatoes rankings) to The Ugly Truth (13%) to Killers (11%) to Life As We Know It (28%), it's been one long streak of fail, and now she appears to have hit a new low with her current film, One For the Money (an embarrassing 3%). She was also part of the god-awful ensemble comedy New Year's Eve (7%). Dresses and Truth did relatively well financially, but the box office numbers have dwindled considerably since then. She's certainly not making Reese Witherspoon numbers.

And then there's her controversial side.

Given all of this, one has to wonder why Heigl continues to be given all these chances to succeed as a leading lady in films - not as a character actress, but an above-the-title star, with a marketing campaign and everything. Posters for One For the Money are everywhere in NYC right now, and I recall recently walking past the AMC Lincoln Center where they were setting up a red-carpet premiere for Money that evening. Talent is not the question here. Heigl is an Emmy winner, so she presumably has the goods. It's more about why she not only makes bad movie after bad movie, but is allowed to make them.

You don't need me to tell you that women in general have a harder time succeeding in films than men, and that the older they are, the tougher it becomes. Yet here we have a case where an actress, propelled to stardom as a result of her television work and one big hit movie (one in which she was not the focus), has been continually permitted to make bad movies to diminishing returns at the box office, something you rarely see from an actress. Sarah Jessica Parker fits this bill also, but she doesn't have the bad rep as a constant complainer that Heigl has.

So what's going on here? Maybe it's one of these reasons - which are purely speculative and are not meant to be all that serious:

- She... gets around. If you know what I mean. And I think you do. Don't mean to be crass about it, but hey, she wouldn't be the first.

- She's a closet Scientologist. I'm probably more inclined to believe this, which tells you a lot about how much Hollywood has changed over the years.

- She has dirt on the studio heads. Blackmail! Always a great way to advance one's career.

- She and/or her agent have no taste in screenplays. Money appears to be a step away from the rom-com formula, at least, but it looks like that's not working either.

- Mind control. Though maybe that should fall under Scientology!

Of course, maybe it's possible she's just misunderstood. That wouldn't explain all the bad choices she's made with her movies, though. Perhaps you have a better theory you'd like to share.


  1. I've got a friend who's been urging me to do mock "reviews" of crappy Heigl movie trailers for about a year now. And every time he brings it up, I have to say "Who is she again?"

    And then I remember who she is and I wonder, well... basically the premise of this article. "How the hell is she getting female protag roles?"

  2. For something like that he should pay you!

  3. She has been a mystery to me, too. I can never quite point out what I don't like about her, but she just doesn't do it for me, and I felt that I wasn't alone. I'm glad your post confirmed this for me! Yet, she sticks around somehow.

    I keep meaning to do a post for your blogathon. I will attempt to squeeze one in. :)

  4. That would be terrific, thanks.

  5. She was terrible as Stephanie Plum, but I'm not entirely sure that's entirely her fault, since Janet Evanovich spent 90 minutes sucking the life out of her very funny first book.

  6. If you say so. I doubt I'll ever watch it.

  7. She was bankable (or so they thought), that's really the only reason studio need. Sadly for her, the days of 27 Dresses are long gone and her box office returns have been in a steady decline since.

  8. I don't doubt that she was bankable at one point, but does anybody really wanna see her movies anymore?

  9. Ahah, fun read, Rich. Heigl's star power is a real head-scratcher to me too, not only 'cause she can't act but she's actually irritating to watch on screen. The Ugly Truth has got to be the worst rom-com ever, Gerry Butler's presence notwithstanding. At least w/ Aniston, she still has a certain likability about her, though both are definitely famous not for their talent.

  10. Imagine if Heigl and Aniston got into a movie together...?

    On second thought, don't.

  11. Yikes!! No, let's not torture ourselves with such a thought, Rich.

  12. Well, you must really love your man Butler if you sat through 'The Ugly Truth' for him.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.