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Is Katherine Heigl’s Career One for the Money?

Katherine Heigl gets lots of flack for her films and performances, and though her career certainly could be better, she’s a legitimately talented actress who just needs to focus on her strengths.

Heigl’s big break came with the ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy. Beginning in 2005, the show saw her acting opposite more established acting presences like Patrick Dempsey and Sandra Oh. In a huge upset, Heigl won the 2007 Emmy for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series over co-stars Oh and Chandra Wilson, becoming the only regular cast member to win an Emmy for performing on the series.

Heigl’s breakthrough to prominence, however, didn’t pave the way for a career of George Clooney-like prestige. Rather, she decided to tackle comedy. Unfortunately, that path brought few laughs with it, as the majority of her films have lacked uniqueness or charm. After starring in Garry Marshall’s New Year’s Eve this past December with every celebrity under the sun including Jon Bon Jovi, she now leads One for the Money, the crime comedy based on the 1994 Janet Evanovich novel of the same name. The film’s already exceeding its box-office expectations, and seeing as Evanovich has written numerous books based on her Stephanie Plum character, there’s a chance Heigl could lead her own franchise. One for the Money is certainly no classic, but Heigl gives it her all despite the script giving her so little with which to work.

Starting out as a young model, Heigl made her film debut in the 1992 romance That Night with Juliette Lewis and C. Thomas Howell. Although she discovered that she’d rather act than model, the film didn’t bring her any attention. She continued acting in various feature films and made-for-television movies, including My Father the Hero, which seems sadly reminiscent of the Pia Zadora-led flop Butterfly, Steven Soderbergh’s Depression-era drama King of the Hill, and the campy horror flick Bride of Chucky. After that, she made something of a stride with a regular gig on the television series Roswell. After that show ended in 2002, she appeared in the 2005 comedy The Ringer, Johnny Knoxville’s attempt at movie stardom, but that movie put neither Heigl nor Knoxville any closer to a big breakthrough in Tinseltown.

It was that same year that she snagged the Grey’s Anatomy gig, a job she kept for five years. After two years of acting on the series, Hollywood decided that it was time for Heigl to make it big. She led the Judd Apatow film Knocked Up alongside Seth Rogen. As most know, the film was a huge success at the box office and (shockingly) with many critics. It even earned a Writers Guild Award nomination. In any case, it’s the film that put Heigl on the map, and after watching the film, it’s easy to see why.

Here the actress plays a character without much of a sense of humor, and that’s exactly how it’s meant to be. She’s awkward in the presence of Rogen and his slacker buddies and isn’t one to make lots of jokes. In essence, she’s embodying a dramatic character in a riotous comedy setting. Oddly enough, she takes to the task with the utmost professionalism and ease, making it look like a piece of cake.

The next two years saw Heigl leading the romantic comedies 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth opposite James Marsden and Gerard Butler, respectively. Both films did well at the box office, but they didn’t convince anyone to take her seriously. In 2010 she led the action comedy Killers alongside Ashton Kutcher and the romantic comedy Life as We Know It with Josh Duhamel. It was suddenly becoming clear that the actress who was once full of promise had settled for fare that was far below her abilities.

“Money” might signal a change for the actress, but it’s not likely. She has the potential to be funny, but her strength is in dramatic acting. Even in the comedy Knocked Up, she gave dramatic life to an unfunny character so brilliantly, and she even won her Emmy for a dramatic performance. Here’s hoping that this great but misused talent finds her way soon.

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