Carter Smith/ElleDon't worry. Katherine Heigl knows she isn't America's sweetheart. "For a minute I think that's what they wanted me to be," the actress says in the January issue of Elle. "And I had 'em for a second thinking maybe I was. And then I opened my mouth, and it was very clear I wasn't."
By "opened her mouth," the 33-year-old actress is referring in part to her 2008 Vanity Fair interview where she called the successful Judd Apatow hit comedy "Knocked Up," in which she had the lead role, "a little sexist," painting the female characters "as shrews, as humorless and uptight," and the men as "lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys."
When she later refused to submit her work on "Grey's Anatomy" (the ABC drama which launched her to fame) for an Emmy during its fourth season because she didn't feel the role was worthy, the nasty headlines kicked up again. Though Heigl's image has never fully recovered from her outspokenness, that hasn't stopped her from trying.
"I think it's a female thing. I'm just that ***hole who really wants everyone to like me, and it's a ridiculous goal and it's an impossible goal," she says in the recent interview. "But I think if I just keep pushing forward and showing myself through and through, they will see me again for what I really am and not what has been sort of spun about me."
Since she and singer/songwriter husband Josh Kelley adopted daughter Naleigh, now 3, the family has become a frequent target of paparazzi, but even with adorable Naleigh by her side, Heigl still can't seem to get out from under the criticism. And even online anonymous comments can sting. Case in point: After someone posted the line "Cute kid. I hate Katherine Heigl," beneath a shot of her and her daughter on a website, it made Heigl "want to find that person and be like, 'Seriously, I think if you got to know me, you would like me. I really do.' "
These days, she's hoping the world will not only like her, but her new film "One For the Money," especially since her most recent big-budget movies -- "Killers" and "Life as We Know It" -- didn't do all that great. "I overdramatize. And I think everything is at stake -- my life, my career, my family, everything is at stake if this movie doesn't do well," she explains.
If her husband's right, then no matter how the film performs, Heigl will be just fine. "Josh said, 'Katie, you've watched my dreams get shattered over and over. You just keep going, you just keep doing it,'" she says. "That's what he means. They kick you and they kick you and they kick you down. But you just don't give up."