Thursday, November 27, 2014 / 12:29 pm
Discussing State Of Affairs
Catch up with some of the press interviews Katherine has given over the last few weeks and get the scoop on her new show, the NBC TV thriller State Of Affairs.
Katherine Heigl Battles More Than Her Enemies In State of Affairs
This cast is amazing! What's it like working with these great actors including Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard?
The cast is fantastic. I'll start with Alfre, who plays President Constance Payton. She's such a gifted woman, I learn from her every scene we share. Her focus, dedication, and energy in this role are inspiring to me.
David Harbour, who plays the chief of staff, DP, has a clear idea of his character and when we step on set he's in it 110%. The gang of Adam Kaufman, Sheila Vand, Tommy Savas, and Cliff Chamberlain, who play my fellow CIA briefers, are fun. We've all become really close. We enjoy each other on and off screen. When we're on set for long hours it's great to share that time with this group. We've really bonded as friends, which makes going to work a genuine pleasure.
Tell us about your character Charlie Tucker. What do you like most about playing her?
Charleston Whitney Tucker is a strong, smart female. She has access to the most confidential information our country has, and she's working for the most powerful person in the United States.
I love getting to play this woman who seems to have it together professionally, but much less so on the personal side. She's somewhat broken because of her fiancé's death, but yet she's very intelligent and good at her job so that keeps her going. Sure she's a little bit unfocused personally, but I think that would happen to anyone who has experienced such a major loss. Obviously, we are making a television show so it might be a bit more exaggerated, but I think it's true at the core and I like playing that.
On the professional front, it's invigorating to play a confident woman who is looked up to by her peers and who is an authority on some very complex issues that face our country. It's given me some serious respect for the people who do this in real life.
If you could have anyone guest star on the show, who would it be?
I have to say one of my best, closest friends, T.R. Knight. I'd love him to come on as a guest star. He's not only a close personal friend, he's an extremely talented actor and I'd love him to be on
Who is your favorite person to follow on Twitter?
Louis C.K. I just find him to be very funny, like most people do, and his Twitter feed is highly entertaining to me. I think I gravitate towards him because he's smart, outspoken, and also very intelligent.
Growing up who was your ultimate TV crush?
I started working in the industry when I was young and I didn't have a ton of time to watch TV. So actually I can't say I had a crush.
The holidays are coming up. What is your favorite holiday dish?
I love so much of the holidays. The food, the time with family - it's all great. My best dish is rutabaga puree. It's so good with tons of carrots, cream, and butter. Not the healthiest dish, but I love it. Actually thinking about it now makes me hungry to have some!
Katherine Heigl Stands Up for Herself and Women
By Kristin Dos Santos - E! News
E!'s Kristin Dos Santos sat down with Katherine Heigl to talk about the importance of standing up for herself and other strong-minded women.
The first time I met you was right when you started Grey's Anatomy, and I remember being totally floored by how real you were. You didn't have a filter. You were funny and honest. It's pretty rare in this town that we get to chat with people who don't get fed every single line to say. So now, a decade later, given everything you went through, I'm wondering, how has that changed? Do you feel like you need to be a lot more careful about what you say? Can you still speak your mind?
Back when all that happened, I was a little naive. I didn't know. At the time, social media and all of that wasn't what it is now. I didn't realize the impact that this comment or that comment would have or that it would catch like wildfire. But it did. It spread and it turned into something a lot uglier than I ever intended. Obviously I'm more aware of that now. If I'm going to voice my opinion and I'm going to speak my mind, I better be very clear about what my intentions are when I say it. It should never be flippant or carelessly tossed out there. I'm still going to have opinions and some of them people are going to agree with, and some they won't. But that's life and that's every single person on this planet.
I spent time trying to be more of a publicity packaged thing, and I just couldn't. I couldn't sleep at night. It kept me up. It felt so dishonest to me and it felt like such a cop out, like me saying that I am inherently wrong about how I feel about things or I am inherently wrong if I have something to say. I don't like that for my daughters. I don't like that for my girlfriends. I don't like that for any woman in this world to be made to feel like that. Your voice, your opinion and you are made to feel like if someone disagrees with you, that now you're a bad person?
Above all else, you have to be able to respect yourself.
Yes. At the end of the day, call me any name you want but I'm going to continue to stand up for myself and I'm going to continue to be heard and voice what I feel and not be bullied into being a doormat, just so you'll call me a sweetheart. I don't want to teach my kids that. And I know certainly some remarkable women like Alfre and my mother and the women that I work with at the network and studio who exude the most gracious confidence in a non-aggressive, non-egotistical way. That's what I need to learn. I need to learn to be like that and not just vomit my ideas out there.
Once you learn that, I still think it's important to be true to yourself. I don't want my kids to feel like they don't have a voice or that having a voice makes them a bitch. I've gone through that phase, too, where I just sit in the corner quietly and look pretty and smile a lot. It's not terribly satisfying. It's living in a weird place of fear of what others think about you. But what matters most is what I think about me. I hold myself to the standard that I think is important. Do I have integrity? Am I compassionate? Am I charitable? Am I forgiving? Am I respectful and decent? That's far more important to me than saying what everyone wants me to say.
Do you think your comments would have been received differently if you were a man? There's no male equivalent for the word 'diva'. Do you feel that women have less freedom to stand up for themselves and what is right, without coming across as abrasive?
Why isn't there the male equivalent for even bitch? It's so derogatory. I can get into a whole conversation about this. My husband and I talk about this and he's like, 'Well, let's come up with a word!' But look, I don't want to be a victim, either. I don't want to sit around and complain about the way things are, I want to power through it. My mother never subscribed to the idea that a woman had to be this or a woman was only capable of this in a professional way. Even if that stigma was placed on her in the '50s and the '60s and the '70s, she just ignored it and kept moving forward and kept being who she was capable of being and doing. It's not always possible if the people in charge say no because the people in charge do say no. But that's my approach at this point, to not let it make me a victim of society or sexism. It's up to me to bully my way through it.
This show has been in the works for a while now, and it's finally almost here. How are you feeling?
Nerrrrrrrvous. And I said to my husband, I don't know, a week ago, 'Look I'm on edge and I apologize. I'm stressed out and I'm nervous and until this thing is over, and just airs already we're gonna have to just live with this version of me and I will try not to freak out. But if I get really quiet, you'll know why. I'm having a panic attack!' [laughs] I mean, we've been at this for three years... When they picked up the pilot and started filming the season I was like, ‘I can't believe we made it.' Now I want to get through the airing, keep my fingers crossed and keep sending out my prayers that the fans and the audience feels as strongly about it as I do and we can get to season two. I really like this job. I really really like it. I'm having a great time, it's a great group of people in the cast and the producers and the writers, and we have incredible support from NBC and we really couldn't do it without them and all their marketing and advertising and how much they've invested in the show. It's such a great job, and I'm incredibly thankful for it. I'd like to keep it.
Alfre is so good as the president on your show. Are you hoping for a female president in 2016? Are you very political?
I'm not [very political]. I'm so terrible, here I am doing this show…But honestly, I stay away from voicing too many opinions about that, because I feel like I don't have the education to support any kind of public opinion about this. It would make me feel silly if I said anything about it because I don't pay enough attention. But I do vote! Before I vote that's when I'm all in, and I find out whose platforms are what and what are their policies and what do I feel most strongly about.
If Alfre were running, I would vote for her. What has it been like portraying that dynamic?
I really love it. I love the relationship between these two women. It's wrought with emotion and vulnerability and loss and love and grief and on top of that you add their particular jobs and there are the restraints that are put on them because of this job and you can add mistrust and disloyalty into the mix. It's fascinating.
I personally still miss Izzie and George on Grey's, and it gives me some solace to know that you and T.R. Knight still friends in real life... They're still together in another universe.
Oh yes! T.R. is like family at this point. We've been best friends for 11-something years. We clicked immediately on the pilot and I can't even remember life without him now. He's my daughters' godfather and is like a brother to me. He lives now on the East Coast which breaks my heart, because I don't get to see him. We used to literally hang out every single night and now I'm lucky if I can squirrel him away from New York to just spend one weekend with me. But we talk all the time. He's such an incredibly decent, big-hearted, incredibly talented, unbelievably loyal friend. I'm lucky to have him.
I was there at the Big Brothers Big Sisters gala where you raised your hand and offered to be a mentor to that high school student up on stage. I heard you followed through?
Yes. The whole event was so inspiring and so moving, with the Littles getting up with their Bigs and the Bigs talking about how the kids inspired them and how they changed their lives. She got up there and gave that incredible speech and I was like, 'Oh girl, I'm so in!' I'm so anxious and excited to get started. I think she's going to breathe life onto the set and show all of us hardened, old actors who have been around the block, like, 'Remember what it was like when you were that age and the world was opening up to you and was shiny and new with all these possibilities?' Let's help make that her reality.
Terrorism, Drinking, and Regrets
By Mike Ayers - Wall Street Journal
Katherine Heigl spoke with the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy column about her return to TV, the real-life implications of fictionalizing the war on terrorism, her days after Grey's Anatomy, and more.
In State Of Affairs, you play CIA analyst Charleston 'Charlie' Tucker who deals with daily terrorist threats. Her job sounds stressful.
She manages that stress by getting drunk every night! We're definitely trying to play the tension, the high stakes of the job and then show the other side of that - how that can wear you down emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It's fun.
Is this a stressful job for you to try and create this?
It is in the best possible way. I said recently to my husband that I'm having the best time. And yeah, I come home at night just wiped. But I just want to talk about it. I want to talk about the day and the decisions we've made. It's been exciting and thrilling to be involved not only as an actor, but a producer on it and feel like my hands are in every part of telling this story. Which has been a dream of mine for a long time and I didn't even realize it until I got the opportunity. As stressful and time consuming and mind melting as it can be, when I have days off, I feel adrift. I don't know what to do with myself.
It must be a new way for your brain to be thinking creatively?
That's why I find it so engaging. I've been an actor since I was 11. I don't want to sound arrogant, in that I 'nail it' every time – but the steps – memorizing your lines, hitting your mark, finding your light, understanding your character – all those things become innate in a way. This other stuff is totally new to me and challenging in a way that I hadn't anticipated. I love the challenge. I love being a little rocked off my heels.
As you mentioned, Charlie loves to relieve stress through hard liquor and random hookups. Have you ever gone through a phase like that?
I was raised Mormon. So there was no drinking, no partying and no pre-marital sex. When I hit about 20 is when I started drifting a little bit – I'm talking about the drinking [Laughs.] I started having my first glass of wine, then my first bottle of wine, then a vodka cocktail. So I went through that phase of exploring the inebriated youth in my 20s verses my teens. It took me about five years to figure out how to drink like an adult and not get plastered. I don't think I did anything horribly regretful. A few drunken moments where somebody had to hold my hair back. It happens.
Is it weird to make a fictional show about terrorists beheading Americans when that's actually happening right now?
It is. And it's disconcerting. We shot [the pilot] in March. When the, pardon my language, the s--t started hitting the fan, I was sitting in my trailer and CNN was on and I was like "Are we going to have to cut this out of the show? It's almost too close to home." It's so disturbing and so upsetting that this isn't just fiction. Is it going to be too sensitive in a way? The more we thought about it and talked about it – the more I felt like people aren't burying their heads in the sand about this. People know what's going on. People are afraid. It's a scary time. Maybe if we do it right and we show the behind-the-scenes heroes who are doing everything in their power to protect our freedoms and protect our civil liberties and protect this nation – maybe it will put a little bit of ease in their daily life. These people are not entirely fictional. These people exist, these jobs exist. These people are fighting and working and sacrificing everything to get it right.
Is it difficult to make things look real versus cheesy?
Two of our producers are ex-CIA. It was their concept that they brought to me three years ago. They've been pretty heavily involved. Without them, I think it would be hard to keep it grounded in some reality. Of course, we have to exaggerate things and make it dramatic, entertaining television.
State of Affairs feels a bit like Homeland at times. How are they different?
They're taking it from more of the operative side. We're taking it more from inside Langley and inside White House and how the government works with the CIA to get stuff done. We're certainly dealing with a lot of the same topics – terrorism, spies, intel – but I don't want to re-do Homeland. It's awesome. [Claire Danes is] awesome. I want to make sure that we do have something different and unique about the show.
This is your first big role on TV since "Grey's Anatomy." Did you always want to come back to TV?
It was a hard decision for me to make. I knew I was going to have to immerse myself into this. As a working mother, you're always going to feel some guilt about not being 100% there. Or even 50%.
For me it was never something I ruled out. A few years ago, I tried to develop something with HBO. I love television. I watch pretty much everything. I justify it by saying it's part of my job, to see how other people are telling their stories. Television, right now, is sort of the golden age, especially for women. There's more opportunities to play complicated, powerful, strong women then there are in film right now. The landscape is really changing.
Now that years have passed since you left Grey's, do you regret how it went down? Are you a regretful person?
Yes. [Laughs] I second guess myself a lot. I'm working on it. But there's certainly things I regret about it, but at the end of the day... I don't know when I came to this conclusion... maybe like in the last year or so. I realized I don't regret the decision. It was the right decision for me to make at the time. Because I made that decision, I did right by my husband, my children, myself. Like I've said, I've been doing this a long time. My career has been the number one focus of my life for as long as I could understand it was a career - since I was 17. I really wanted to be a mother. I've wanted to be a wife. I've wanted a family. And I was sacrificing one for the other, over and over again. It's a really hard decision to make. I didn't want to give it up. But I needed to be able to wrap my brain around both and not screw up my kids for life.
Somebody asked me recently "How do you deal with it?" And you just deal with it. I chose this profession. I chose to be in the public spotlight. I can't take one without the other. There's always good and bad in every profession. That's what it happens to be: Scrutiny and judgment and the rumors. It's part of what the job entails, I guess, is putting up with that, learning to live with it and not let it destroy you.
And if it does, you can always go out drinking.
Exactly. Which I do. Often. [Laughs]
Katherine Heigl Opens Up About Her Return to TV
By Aubry D'Arminio - TV Guide Magazine
TV Guide Magazine: How did State of Affairs lure you back into the spotlight?
Heigl: Executive producers Rodney Faraon and Hank Crumpton are ex-CIA. Rodney was on the briefing team for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. They'd tell stories, and I'd think about how no one really talks about those analysts. There's no real glory in the job, because they have to remain anonymous. There's not a lot of money in it. Plus, the idea of playing a grown-up woman in a powerful position seemed really appealing to me.
TV Guide Magazine: How is she different from Izzie?
Heigl: Izzie had a very serious grown-up career, but she was - and I was - young. She was still fumbling around life. So I was excited to play a true adult.
TV Guide Magazine: You've said returning to TV isn't a step backward. Are you tired of constantly defending your career choices?
Heigl: I find it interesting that people even ask if TV is a demotion. How can you say that and watch something like Matthew McConaughey in True Detective or Kevin Spacey in House of Cards?
TV Guide Magazine: The first episode has gone through many versions since you shot it. Has the process been nerve-racking?
Heigl: The pilot morphed from one thing to another and then back again, because, honestly, what Joe Carnahan made was so phenomenal. But I find the whole process fascinating rather than nerve-racking.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you ever disagree with where the writers want to take Charlie?
Heigl: Oh, yeah. That always comes up. But I think it does for every actor. There are moments where you're like, "That's not who she is, or who we're trying to make her." The beauty of also being a producer is they do have to at least hear me out.
TV Guide Magazine: Were there any changes you did insist on?
Heigl: My mother and I felt strongly that Charlie needs to have an intriguing love interest who is not dead like her fiancé. We added someone to the pilot.
TV Guide Magazine: Given recent events, why did you decide not to cut the beheading storyline?
Heigl: [Because] that was actually when I realized, "My God, what we're talking about isn't far-fetched." The story we're telling is relevant.
TV Guide Magazine: Charlie has a very high-security job with big secrets to keep. Can she trust her colleagues?
Heigl: Right now, Joe and I are arguing because he always wants to have someone either die or be really horrible. I'm like, "No, no, the team has to be the team! The audience has to be able to count on them. No one should be the secret bad guy." We'll see who wins the argument. I'm not sure!
TV Guide Magazine: On Grey's, you stood up for yourself and said, "Look, I don't think this material is good." If a male actor did that, it might not have been a big deal.
Heigl: Yeah, I know, we'd have to write a book if we were to talk about that. Look, there are gracious, classy ways of doing what I did. Then the not-so-gracious and not-so-classy ways. I fell into the latter at that point in my life. I spent the next couple of years wobbling. If people keep saying something about you, you wonder if they're right and you're wrong. It's uncomfortable to think, "My God, am I really this s--tty person?" But it wasn't the end of the world either. There's a lot worse I could have done. I'm always going to fight for the material to be great.
Katherine Heigl Calls Her State Of Affairs Role 'Off The Rails'
By Ryan Berenz - Channel Guide Magazine
Ah, there's nothing quite like coming home to relax after a hard day of work in Kabul, Afghanistan.
"I finished work early today," Katherine Heigl says. "I can sit down and watch TV because my kids are at school and my husband is off working, so I finally have a quiet house."
Heigl stars as Charleston 'Charlie' Tucker, a top CIA analyst responsible for assembling the President's Daily Briefing (PDB or The Book) informing the president of the day's highest-priority national security hot spots. But she also has a tragic personal link to POTUS Constance Payton (played with power and pathos by Alfre Woodard): Charlie was engaged to Payton's son and witnessed his violent death during a terrorist ambush in the Middle East. Foreign policy is a personal matter for Charlie and her commander in chief, and both struggle internally with their trauma. For Charlie, it's trying to fill in the emptiness with drinking and casual sex.
"I think you need some connection with these people on a personal level to delve into their world and see them as real human beings and not just robots going about the business of analyzing," Heigl says of Charlie and her cohorts. The realism of the characters and their cloak-and-dagger world is achieved in part due to contributions from real CIA veterans Henry Crumpton and Rodney Faraon, who shared their experiences and let Heigl into the 'inner circle' of the intelligence community.
"You're getting to work at 2 in the morning preparing the brief for the day, and you usually brief the president sometime in the morning," Heigl says, "and then you're done until 2 in the morning. So they would go to this bar in Maryland and just get hammered and blow off steam, which is slightly terrifying if you think about it!"
So the CIA briefs POTUS with a hangover? "These guys are serious CIA. They do not come into work hungover," Heigl reassures us. "Charleston will, on occasion. For dramatic purposes, we have to have her be a little off the rails."
State of Affairs is a bold venture for Heigl, who is royalty among rom-com movie stars but has not done a TV project since leaving Grey's Anatomy in 2010. She has grown up personally and professionally in the past four years. "I took a couple of years off to just really be with my family," she says. "And I needed that time. I needed to be a mom and be a wife and be a friend and really revel in that and remember what it is I feel so passionate about in this industry."
In addition to starring, Heigl also shares State of Affairs' executive producer credit. It's her first TV series experience at this level, and she says it took about a week of filming before she found a nice balance between acting and all the behind-the-scenes duties. "I didn't realize exactly what I was walking into. But I've loved it. It's really been satisfying and exciting work for me," she says.
"I'm having the time of my life. I love every bit of this. I feel immensely connected to the show. I feel immensely connected to my character. I feel immensely connected to the success of it or the failings of it. It's so a part of me because I got to be so a part of it on these levels."
Catch State Of Affairs Mondays at 10/9C on NBC after The Voice.