Dramatic thriller Unforgettable, starring Katherine Heigl, Rosario Dawson and Geoff Stults will hit UK cinemas tomorrow (April 21), telling the story of a jealous ex-wife, with veteran producer Denise Di Novi taking her seat in the Director's Chair for the first time. We got the chance to chat to Heigl all about her role in the film, playing the villain in such a dramatic movie and more…
You’re making your big screen return with Unforgettable; for those of our readers who may not yet have seen the teasers, how would you best describe the movie?
I’m so bad at synopsis, I will do my best! It’s basically a thriller about two women who could not be more different and, one of them becomes totally unhinged. I play Tessa who is the ex-wife of, you know, the greatest catch ever and, she has a daughter and they were trying to co-parent peacefully together, when he brings back to the small town they live in his new girlfriend who he wants to marry. Tessa does not take well to this news, so it’s sort of a story of watching her and Rosario Dawson’s character Julia become entangled in this dysfunctional web that Tessa creates.
Having seen the final trailer for the movie, it’s very intense and action-packed, so what were those days like on set for you when filming those sorts of scenes?
Those are very intense scenes and they did take full days to unfold and get done because it’s so intricate and you’ve gotta be careful that nobody gets hurt. But I have an incredible stuntwoman who is actually my best friend and my daughter’s Godmother; she’s been my stunt double since both of us were 14. So, she does the bulk of anything that’s… I’m not very athletic, I’m gonna be honest! I’m just gonna hurt myself or someone else accidentally! So she does the bulk of anything that’s truly intense, but Rosario and I did quite a bit of it, we were able to pull it off!
From what we’ve seen in the teasers, Tessa seems to be the ‘villain’ of the story. Is the role of villain a fun one to play?
I keep joking that it’s so freeing to play such an unhinged woman making choices and decisions based purely on what she wants. She has no regard for what anybody else’s needs are; it’s all her agenda. As a woman who tends to overly put other people’s needs for, especially those I love and care about; it was really freeing, but she’s obviously psychotic so… (laughs)
What challenges did you personally face then as an actor taking on this role?
I think the hardest thing for me was actually a scene where I have to make Isabella [Kai Rice], the little girl who plays my daughter cry. That was the hardest I’d had to do this whole movie. I had to step outside and cry it out, because it broke my heart and I felt awful. It was just very intense to be purposefully making a child cry, and I think trying to really make sure that every decision as an actor I made for Tessa, was coming from a place of sincerity. It wasn’t just crazy for the sake of crazy. I want the audience and I hope they do, to have some compassion for her. I know that sounds crazy, but I want people to understand where she’s coming from and why. Not that that excuses her behaviour but that it conforms it.
As you mentioned you had some challenging times so did you ever find it hard to disengage when you left shooting, or was that all just part of the package?
Not usually, but in that moment [with Isabella] I did. I think it was just the vulnerability of this little girl, and I didn’t know if she would have totally understood that it was just acting, you know? I just didn’t want her to be left with any residual feelings of inadequacy or anything from this. But, in terms of any of that ugliness that I had to exhibit as Tessa with Rosario was different; Rosario is an adult and understands that this is performance and is not real and is not personal, so it’s much easier to shake off. I think Isabella did understand that it was performance; she’s eight-years-old, she’s old enough to understand, but it was still just hard.
How was the experience of working closely alongside Rosario?
It was phenomenal. It was so awesome to work with such a talented, boisterous, amazing woman. She’s a lot of fun, she’s incredibly gregarious, she’s down for anything, she wants to explore it all and go for it and that makes my job so much easier.
Tessa is obviously the extreme version of the ‘jealous ex-partner’, but there are people out there like that, that do exist! In the teaser we see Tessa checking up on Julia’s Facebook in the film, so what role do you think social media plays in real life and in allowing that jealousy to fester?
I think it plays a huge role in it. Huge. Even the sanest of us have to stop ourselves from allowing this incredible access into one another’s lives to make us feel inadequate or less than because everybody’s posting photos or telling whatever on Facebook, and it’s always the perfect version of everybody’s life, it’s none of the s**t! I’m guilty of it too, and I try really hard with my blog and stuff to have moments of honestly; ‘I didn’t actually hand-make these f**king cupcakes because I didn’t have time!’ So I think it plays a huge role; the competition that goes on between moms and women and whatever. I’d have to talk to my husband about the male perspective, but I think it plays a huge, huge role and I think we all have to be careful.
This is Denise Di Novi’s first time serving as director on a film so what was it like working with her?
Incredible, I love Denise. We’ve had a friendship since we worked together on Life As We Know It, she was my producer. I love her as a person, I love her as a professional and I love her as a director. There wasn’t a moment of insecurity coming from her; she knew exactly what she wanted, she knew exactly how she wanted it to unfold, she was incredibly prepared, she had vision and I’m very much a director’s actor. I rely very heavily on my directors to direct me. That helps me feel safe and knowing that I could completely lean on her to guide my performance was such a blessing.
How different are the worlds of film and television? Because in television you’ve got this never-ending role whereas in film it can be quite closed-ended…
Exactly, that’s pretty much the difference. In television there’s opportunity to really take your time developing and laying out the character whereas in film it’s a much faster process, you have to know who your character is beginning, middle and end in film. In television, it can still be a little up in the air. I’m very grateful to be able to do both, I love the difference, I love the newness of each I guess, I love being able to bounce around.
So why should everybody go and see Unforgettable?
I think because it’s compelling and it’s a fascinating, voyeuristic look at what can happen when one woman becomes completely unhinged and has to deal with the reality of her ex-husband moving on. And how the other woman in that scenario who is the victim turns it around and becomes the strength.
Moving forward, are there any big names in the world of TV or film you’ve not yet worked with that you might like to in the future?
Oh gosh! Yeah! There’s so many. I’d love to work with Amy Adams, or Rachel McAdams. I love Emma Stone, everything she does… I could play her big sister! (laughs) There’s so many talented people I would love the opportunity to work with some day.
Finally, what’s next for you then in the coming months and moving into the summer?
Right now I am just focusing on new baby and the girls, home life, family life and Utah! That’s the extent of it right now. Working on my blog which has been a really fun, different way of sharing who I am and sharing my life with my fans; that’s been really fun for me, I’ve really enjoyed it. Just chilling with the girls; lots of cooking, crafting, lots of movie nights. Right now we’re watching Roswell that I did when I was 19, 20. It’s so fun watching it with the kids, they’re like ‘That was YOU?!’ (laughs)
Unforgettable is out in UK cinemas from Friday, April 21.
Tagged in Katherine Heigl