%photo11% %photo1% Mention the name "Katherine Heigl" and watch eyes roll and hate spew. Do a Web search of the terms "I hate Katherine Heigl" and you'll find articles and blog posts espousing that view, some with those very words in their titles.
She's trying to do something about that. In fact, Heigl -- whose brash honesty about the people, movies, and shows she's worked on has alienated fans and transformed her from the next America's sweetheart into one of Hollywood's most hated -- admits it's an image problem of her own making.
"It's something I've spent a lot of time the past year or so really thinking about and really trying to figure out," she said in an interview with the Los Angeles-based TV news station KTLA. "Because obviously my career's important to me and I'm really, really passionate about trying to keep it!"
The controversial actress -- prone to unfiltered pop-commentary on everything from the sexist nature of "Knocked Up" to the bad writing on "Grey's Anatomy" -- has watched her popularity decline as a result of her candor. Rather than hail Heigl as a refreshing antidote to bland media-trained celebrities, the public has dismissed her as a pouty, ungrateful diva.
The 32-year-old rom-com favorite proved a worthy heir to the Julia Roberts/Meg Ryan throne as a constant bridesmaid in 2008's "27 Dresses." And now, following a series of box-office duds ("The Ugly Truth," "Killers"), she's trying to bring her career mojo back: Heigl shows promise in "Life As We Know It," her new dramedy with Josh Duhamel. On top of that, she's aiming to be more careful about what she says -- in public, at least.
"I don't want to be the person digging my own grave," she told KTLA's Sam Rubin while promoting the film Thursday morning. "I don't want to put myself out there in a way that would in any way sort of hinder this great thing I've got going. Because I'm really excited and grateful to kind of be in the position I'm in now and have the opportunity to be in movies like this movie -- and I don't want to jeopardize that."
Heigl's honest remarks about her image issues -- try getting another actress to admit she has issues -- came after Rubin asked about the New York Times profile that ran last weekend. In the article, aptly titled "The Unwilling Diva," writer Brooks Barnes assessed Heigl's unlikability factor, saying she "unwittingly created her image problem by being honest in interviews. Her comments were not particularly scandalous but spawned tabloid feeding frenzies, because she didn't just mouth promotional platitudes about her projects."
Heigl is in full agreement: It's not what she said -- it's how she said it.
"As he says in that article, you know, nothing I said was particularly scandalous," she says. "It just had a tone. And I think that's the most important thing that I've sort of learned as I get older and grow up a little bit and get a little less defensive and a little more settled in my own skin -- and I don't feel like I have to defend myself so much or defend my choices or this or that."
She added: "I can just let go of the tone and still say what I gotta say and be honest ... but maybe not so edgy."
Watch Katherine Heigl in an exclusive clip from "Life as We Know It":
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