TV

Katherine Heigl opens up about 'replacing' Meghan Markle on Suits

It was a 'fit of courage' that landed her the role.

Before Katherine Heigl started in Suits, she was a fan of the show. In fact, both she and her husband, musician Josh Kelley, were addicted to it.

"Two years ago, some friends up in Utah, where we live, recommended it as a perfect show for my husband and I to watch together," Katherine tells TV WEEK.

"As a couple, you're always looking for that one show you can both enjoy. We got totally sucked in and binge-watched the first five seasons."

Katherine's mum, Nancy, who's also her producing partner, was a fan of the legal drama too.

When it was announced that stars Meghan Markle and Patrick J Adams (who play Rachel Zane and Mike Ross respectively) were leaving after season seven, Nancy had an idea.

She suggested Katherine contact series creator Aaron Korsh to see if he wanted to work with them on a project.

"It was during that conversation that he told us they were going to be doing a season eight," Katherine, 39, remembers. "In a fit of courage, I asked if he needed anybody new on the show, and said I was available. It worked out really well for me!"

Katherine in her role as tough nut lawyer Samantha.
Katherine in her role as tough nut lawyer Samantha.

She's not kidding. Aaron created a main character just for her in feisty lawyer Samantha Wheeler.

"He called me about a month before we started filming to run through what he was thinking, and I loved the sound of her," Katherine explains.

"She loves to stir the pot and she'll create trouble, but she's fiercely loyal and ambitious and strong and confident."

In a scene with Harvey (Gabriel Macht, left) and Alex (Dulé Hill) in *Suits.*
In a scene with Harvey (Gabriel Macht, left) and Alex (Dulé Hill) in Suits.

The first scene Aaron wrote for Katherine had her kickboxing. That was a challenge for the actress, who'd given birth to her son, Joshua Jr, just over a year earlier. (She also has two adopted daughters, Nancy and Adalaide.) It had been years since she'd done a kickboxing class, but she was up for it.

"It's always fun to be thrown a challenge and go, 'OK, can I say my lines and do this kickboxing and be in the physical shape I need to be in to do this?'" Katherine says.

"I'm always afraid it's going to look like my limbs are flailing and I have no idea what I'm doing. But, in the moment, it felt good."

A former child actress, Katherine's first regular TV gig was in the sci-fi series Roswell. Then, in 2005, she landed the role that made her famous around the world: Dr Izzie Stevens in Grey's Anatomy.

Katherine left the medical drama in its sixth season.

"I haven't watched [Grey's] in a long time," she admits. "But I find it amazing that a new generation of kids are watching it and bingeing it on Netflix.

"You get all these young girls going, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm a big fan of Grey's Anatomy,' and I'm like, 'You were two when we started this show!' But it's nice to see that it has such legs."

Katherine starred with Ellen Pompeo in the hit drama *Grey's Anatomy*.
Katherine starred with Ellen Pompeo in the hit drama Grey's Anatomy.

Katherine then starred in a string of hit films, including Knocked Up, 27 Dresses and the computer-animated flick The Nut Job.

Recently, she returned to television, playing a CIA analyst in State Of Affairs and a lawyer in Doubt. Then along came Suits.

"There are more opportunities every day for great storytelling for women," Katherine says.

"I'm so thrilled that this new era of television provides so many opportunities to tell those stories, because they're not making them as much in film anymore. They're sticking more to the bigger-budget action-hero stories.