Katherine Heigl's CIA drama State Of Affairs recently debuted on TV3 in New Zealand and Stuff magazine caught up with her to discuss her return to television.

Katherine Heigl In State Of Affairs

Why did you decide to come back to TV?

At first I wasn't sure it was the right choice for me because now I have two children and I live in Utah. But when I was approached about the idea, I was just going to produce it. As we continued developing it I got more attached to the character. It's such a remarkable time in TV and now you have the opportunity to play some really complicated, intriguing characters that are not really available in film as much.

Did you talk to women who do your onscreen job in real life?

Two of our producers on the show are ex-CIA. One was an operative and one briefed two different Presidents, so I talked to them a lot and realised what sacrifices they have made for our country when there is very little money or glory in it for them. They are flawed, of course, but it was important my character was a patriot who cares about the country and the world and is not in it for any other reason.

What are the biggest stretches for you playing this role?

Because I had the good fortune to be able to help create her, in a way I got to tailor-make her for me. So oddly, I included this very dysfunctional personal life and I am not sure why, but I just thought it would be more interesting if this woman who comes off so in charge and so powerful, so smart and on top of things, is a very flawed person who drinks a lot and she has a lot of one-night stands. (laughs)

So she's nothing like you? (laughs)

God forbid, my mother would kill me. I mean, I certainly like my evening cocktail but Charlie is on a bender because she has gone through a very difficult time in the last few years, and she's not handling it very responsibly. But I also feel it keeps her grounded and relatable. I guess where she is like me is that she's a very strong woman, which I try to be. I have two daughters now and I think it's important to show them that being a strong woman doesn't mean you are a bitch, and it doesn't mean that you are difficult, but just that you know who you are and you can draw boundaries with people and ask to be treated respectfully and treat others respectfully in return.

You went through a lot of tough times with people calling you 'difficult' after you left Grey's Anatomy. Has it gone away now?

I think it will probably never stop. It really hurt my feelings for a long time, and I let myself wallow in that for a little bit, and it also confused me because I wondered if they knew something about me that I didn't. I was more than willing to say sorry but I didn't know what they were talking about.

Why do you think strong women are often criticised and strong men are not?

I think people are just intimidated on some level around someone flat out saying what they want or don't want. I did a movie a year ago and I was so paranoid about this difficult reputation that I'd earned, and so afraid of perpetuating it, that I wore a pair of shoes that were a size too small for me every day for three weeks on set because I was too afraid to tell the wardrobe people they purchased the wrong-size shoes. I was incredibly ashamed of myself looking back, because this is not the daughter my mother raised. So I'm teaching my daughters it's absurd to be afraid of offending someone when you sometimes just need to tell the truth.

How do you and your husband handle parenting?

I am far more the disciplinarian because Josh loves those girls and he's such a pushover. It's awful.

Do you stay in touch with any of your Grey's Anatomy cast?

TR Knight (George O'Malley) and I have been inseparable since the pilot, so he's family to me still and is my daughter's godfather. I see Justin (Chambers) every once in a while and all of them are exceedingly wonderful people that I had a pretty great time with. Maybe I should have a little Grey's party just to get them all together again.