Model-turned-actress Katherine Heigh first attracted the public's attention when she portrayed Gerard Depardieu's disobedient daughter Nicole in the remake of the French film My Father, the Hero (1994). She also gained notice for playing Steven Seagal's niece Sarah Ryback in the blockbuster hit Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995). On the small screen, the American actress gained worldwide fame after a regular role as the arrogant but defenseless Isabel Evans in the teen sci-fi drama Roswell (1999-2002). After the series, Heigl received more awareness for playing roles in such TV movies as Love Comes Softly (2003), Wuthering Heights (2003), Love's Enduring Promise (2004) and playing Dr. Stevens in the series Grey's Anatomy (2005).
Off screen, and in memory of her late brother's organ donation, Heigh helps promote the importance of organ donation. Being asked about her activity, she said, "It's hard for people to be thinking about organ donation for the first time in the midst of crisis. But organ donation is the most honorable way to preserve the memory of someone you love. I learned through difficult experience that this is the right and humanitarian thing to do. The need is always out there. Make sure the people around you know your feelings on organ donation, so your loved ones can fulfill those wishes without any doubt."
As for her private life, the green-eyed, blonde-haired beauty was previously linked to Blossom actor Joey Lawrence (met at Seventeen magazine's 50th Birthday celebration in 1994), but the relationship only lasted three months. Commenting about her brief romance, Heigh said," I was on the East Coast. He was in L.A. It was mostly over the phone."
Heigl is currently dating Roswell costar Jason Behr.
Childhood and Family:
Daughter to Paul Heigl (an accountant) and Nancy Heigl (Katherine's manager), Katherine Marie Heigl was born on November 24, 1978, in Washington D.C. Along with older siblings Holt and Jason (died of brain injuries in a car accident) and sister Meg, Katherine spent most of her childhood in an old Colonial-style farmhouse in a prosperous neighborhood of New Canaan, Connecticut.
A mix of German and Irish origin, Katherine, whose nickname is Katie, tried her hand at modeling by posing for her aunt's hair care product. After the photographs were sent to several modeling agencies, nine-year-old Katie became a child model for well-known international modeling agency Wilhelmina. She immediately made her debut in magazine ads, posed for Sears and Lord & Taylor catalogs, and made her TV debut in a national commercial for Cheerios breakfast cereal. Following modeling work and commercial ads, Katie then added acting to her endeavors when she was 12 years old.
In New Canaan High School, Katie experienced a hard time balancing her academic studies with work. After the divorce of her parents, Katie, whose favorites actors are Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Jessica Lange, Marlon Brando, Robin Williams, Anthony Hopkins, and Russell Crowe, relocated to Malibu Canyon, Los Angeles (with her mother) to pursue acting professionally. Commenting about her choice, she said," I was a good student, but I had found my niche as an actress and I was already looking to the future."
My Father, the Hero
Starting out as a child model for Wilhelmina at the age of nine, Katherine Heigl quickly appeared on magazine ads, posed for Sears and Lord & Taylor catalogs, and a TV commercial for Cheerios breakfast cereal. Following a number of commercials and modeling jobs, twelve-year-old Heigl debuted in That Night (1992, played Kathryn) and later appeared in Steven Soderbergh's King Of The Hill in 1993.
In 1994, Heigl's break out role came when she was cast as Gerard Depardieu's daughter Nicole in the remake of the French film My Father, the Hero (1994). Her role as a disobedient teen dealing with her overprotected divorced father drew the attention of pleased audiences.
Heigl followed it up with a role in the action film Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995), in which she portrayed Steven Seagal's niece Sarah Ryback. Through the blockbuster's worldwide release, Heigl was invited to appear on such popular TV shows as The Tonight Show and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
A year later, after starring as Alexia Wheaton in the Disney feature Wish Upon a Star (1996), Heigl, with the support of her manager (also her mother), relocated to Los Angeles to begin a fulltime acting career. During the early years in L.A. she landed starring roles as Princess Ilene in the independent film Prince Valiant (1997, opposite Stephen Moyer and Edward Fox) and played Taffy-Rita Hayworth's Stand-in in Stand-ins (1997).
Venturing into the horror genre, Heigl portrayed Shannon Griffin in Bug Buster (1998) and Jade in Bride of Chucky (1998) before being seen as Miranda Prosper in the made-for-TV movie The Tempest (1998, costarring Peter Fonda).
At the end of decade, Hegl cemented her position on the small screen when she won a regular role as one of the teen aliens in Isabel Evans' sci-fi drama Roswell (1999-2002). Her character as the arrogant, but defenseless younger sister of fiancé Jason Behr drew the attention of the public. Being asked about her role, Heigl said, "One of the most interesting things about that show for me was that because Isabel was an alien, I got to do many things, so that was creatively satisfying. I think anyone's fear of getting involved in a show that could run for several years is that you'll be playing only one character for that long; that can get stale for an actor, so on Roswell, I really lucked out."
During her three-year stint on Roswell, Heigl also played the character of Arlene, the competitive tomboy in 100 Girls (2000). She also starred with David Boreanaz and Denise Richards in the horror film Valentine (2001), by playing Shelley Fisher, a medical student who meets an unexpected demise.
Returning to the small screen, the Roswell star was cast as Vincent Ventresca's boss in the never aired show Vegas Dick (2003) before having a lead female role in a popular Hallmark's telefilm Love Comes Softly (2003), portraying young, pregnant newlywed Marty Claridge who travels west in a wagon and faces tragedy in her new life. She also returned to horror genre with TBS' Evil Never Dies (2003, played the role Eve).
The same year, after playing a role in the movie Descendant (2003), in which she starred as Ann Hedgerow and costarred with Bride of Chucky star Jeremy London and Nick Stabile, Heigl was seen in a number of television works like the NBC thriller Critical Assembly (2003, played brilliant student Aizy), an adaptation of Emily Bronte's classic novel Wuthering Heights (2003, portrayed Isabel) and Hallmark's anticipated sequel Love's Enduring Promise (2004, reprised her role of Marty Claridge).
Recently, Heigl tried her hand in the comedy Romy and Michele: In the Beginning (2005, as Romy White), a prequel to the movie Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, which starred Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow. Though the show failed to air on ABC, she was happy to have been involved in the film. Commenting about the film, she said, "It was the first time I had ever done broad comedy. I had so much fun."
She next was seen with Tom Sizemore in the bizarrely titled Zzyzzx Rd. (2005, as Marissa) before playing Dr. Isobel "Izzie" Stevens in ABC's medical drama Grey's Anatomy (2005). Starring as a model-turned-surgical resident, Heigl's popularity rose as the show became one of the hottest of the year.
2005 remained busy for Heigl when she was cast in the starring role of Karly Hert in director Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau's satirical comedy Side Effects. Fans will also catch Heigl in Barry W. Blaustein's comedy The Ringer and then as Delilah in Richard Janes' horror film The 9th Passenger.
2006 will find Heigl starring in John Cosgrove's comedy Caffeine.