Katherine Heigl may have found the plumb franchise role she’d been waiting for – as in Stephanie Plum.
Taking on the part of novelist Janet Evanovich’s popular plucky bounty hunter heroine in the film version of the book series first entry “One for the Money” may provide the blonbe actress with her first-ever film franchise, and Heigl tells PopcornBiz that the role came with big challenges (like replicating Plum’s signature Jersey hairstyle) and perks (learning to love a day on the shooting range).
On her entry point into the world of Stephanie Plum:
I was approached about the project when I was doing 'The Ugly Truth' with Lakeshore Entertainment and they wanted to turn the book into a movie. And I had, at that point, not read the book, so I started reading them. And I became obsessed with them and then got really exited about the idea of bringing it to film. And I really loved the producer role on this, because it was so important to me to keep the film really close to the book – because that's what I fell in love with and that's what millions of people have fallen in love with, in terms of the 'One for the Money'/Stephanie Plum series. So it was great to get to kind of be in the room and have an opinion.
On the Stephanie Plum literary franchise:
What's interesting about the books is that they all a murder mystery tie-in with the bounty hunting aspect of it, and so it's not all just about romance. It's not all just about comedy. Especially in this movie, the murder mystery storyline's kind of dark and a little edgy. And gives it a vibe that is not purely chick-flick-ish. I'm really excited about it because I think it does appeal to everyone. It isn't just a girls' movie. It's a good time for everyone, men included.
On Stephanie Plum, the character:
I just think that there's something about her that's really endearing. You just like her. You just really like her. She's a decent person with a big heart and she's sort of fearless and courageous but perpetually puts herself in situations where she's just in over her head but doesn't take herself very seriously. And doesn't take other people too seriously. She has this sort of great perspective on life that happens to be really funny and witty and charming as well. So I don't know. I just sort of like everything about Stephanie. And she's sort of that hapless heroine that don't get a lot of. You sort of get the overly perfect heroines that you can never aspire to be like. But Stephanie's a sort of everyday girl.
On words of wisdom from Janet Evanovich:
I didn't speak to her until after the movie was made and after she saw it. And I really wish that I had gotten to talk to her on the phone beforehand, because I think she would have relieved a lot of pressure. She was so supportive and so cool about it. And kind of just took the angle of like, 'Look, you're always going to have a few people that don't think you're the right fit for the role. But I think you are, and I think it's great. So just be you and do your Stephanie and people will embrace it.' Such a relief to hear from the creator of the novels, because I it's hard to know what anyone else is thinking of the character. You only have your imagination to go off of, but I was trying to read people's minds and fit myself into it somehow. And ultimately I kind of just have to do my thing.
On adopting a Jersey Girl look:
Her look is very specific in the book, and once you get attached to that idea in your head I couldn't imagine Stephanie any other way. It would have been really weird to play Stephanie blonde. It just wouldn't have worked. But the other side of that is that most people know me as a blonde so it was disconcerting, I think, for certain fans to see me as a brunette. And then it was disconcerting for the fans of the book to imagine me as Stephanie and blonde and blah, blah, blah. So I died it before we started filming, brown, trying to like get people onboard. And then I ended up just wearing a wig, because I don't have curly hair and Stephanie does.
On mastering real-life firearms for the first time:
I've been like yielding guns in films since I was 15 but they're fake, and there's no actual bullet in them. And so they took us to a shooting range to practice, because there are certain things that you're not supposed to do, like blink when you shoot. But it's impossible not to blink! It's really hard! And it was really intimidating and nerve-wracking the first time they put a loaded gun in your hand – plus they'd just given you a 20-minute spiel about the dangers of this gun, so you're sort of freaking out. And then I really enjoyed it because it was super satisfying and cathartic on some level. And then Jason O'Mara’s gun shot, like, fire out of it or something. Yeah, it was a little intense. But I had a good time. I mean, I started wanting to go to the gun range regularly. And then I started shooting clay pigeons with my husband. I really like to shoot things.
"One For the Money" opens everywhere Friday, January 27th